Did you know that one of the oldest conservation societies in America established one of their historic firsts here in Greenwich?
The National Audubon Society has worked to protect birds and their habitats across the country.
And yet it was in Greenwich that the first teaching facility opened.
Thanks to a long history of parks and civic engagement, Greenwich appeared to be the perfect spot for it.
And today, the Greenwich Audubon Center attracts visitors for the Audubon prints on display, as well as some great hiking.
Thanks to its distance from downtown Greenwich (about 20 minutes away), you’ll likely have the trails to yourself while you’re here. Audubon Greenwich is home to acres of beautiful land with natural wonders just waiting to be discovered.
If you’re a nature lover, then you definitely need to check out the Greenwich Audubon Center.
About the Greenwich Audubon Center
Eleanor Clovis Reese and H. Hall Clovis provided the land for the Main Sanctuary at Greenwich Audubon Center. It was the National Audubon Society’s first environmental teaching facility, opening in 1943. The center is made up of 285 acres of land that is home to a large number of native plant and animal species. There are miles of trails to explore as well as conservation events and nature education programs. When you visit Greenwich Audubon sanctuary, you’ll always find something exciting to do!
Top Things to Do at the Greenwich Audubon Center
Activities at the Greenwich Audubon Center include all manner of outdoor enterprises. There are seven miles of hiking trails to explore that lead through:
- Hardwood forests
And other ecosystems in the natural area of the Audubon Center of Greenwich
You’ll also find remnants of times gone by throughout the Greenwich Audubon Center, like:
- An old apple orchard
- New England homestead buildings
- And old stone walkways
You can meander through the wildflower meadows and a butterfly garden or see the honeybee hives and the bird feeding station.
Kimberlin Nature Education Center
Many trips to the Greenwich Audubon Center include a stop at the Kimberlin Nature Education Center. This is where the Nature Store and Welcome Center are located. There are also classrooms in the Kimberlin Nature Education Center as well as:
- The Perch Coffee Lounge
- The Art Gallery at Kiernan Hall
The Oppenheimer Gallery in Kiernan Hall exhibits iconic work from John James Audubon and other natural history artists.
Nature Trails and Hiking Opportunities at the Greenwich Audubon Center
There are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy here.
The sanctuary’s ecosystems include:
- Large open fields
- Successional thickets
- Young and old mixed oak, beech, and maple woods
- Mead Lake
- Shrub swamps
- Vernal pools
- Indian Spring Pond (man-made and open all year)
- Red maple swamps
- And a tiny grove of hemlock trees
The sanctuary also has honeybee hives, wildflower meadows, a butterfly garden, and a bird feeding station.
The east branch of the Byram River cuts through the property. Dammed in the nineteenth century to create the shallow Mead Lake, it is a haven for turtles, water snakes, and frogs, cuts through the property. You can also find two bird blinds and a boardwalk on the Lake Loop Trail.
With better weather, April through November are the best months to hike here.
- Respect the natural environment
- Follow trail markers and keep a trail map handy
- Staying on designated paths
- Bring appropriate footwear
- Bring insect repellent in the warmer months
- And plenty of water
Greenwich Audubon Center Trail
This 1.8-mile loop trail offers views of the area’s natural beauty and diversity. Its diverse ecosystems along the way allow you to see a variety of animals and birds in their natural habitats. This trail is sure to provide a memorable experience, whether you enjoy:
- Cross-country skiing
- Or simply taking a leisurely stroll
Due to its moderate difficulty, the loop takes about 42 minutes to complete.
Old Pasture and Lake Loop
The Old Pasture and Lake Loop trail is a lovely hike that passes through a variety of settings. You’ll see a variety of wildlife along the way, including deer, birds, frogs, and turtles.
Along the way, you’ll also pass by peaceful Mead Lake, surrounded by verdant forests and wetlands. A haven for turtles, water snakes, and frogs, the lake is a wonderful place to stop and relax or see wildlife.
Lake Mead Loop Trail
The Lake Mead Loop trail is an excellent place to unwind in the midst of nature’s splendor. Lush meadows and forests envelope the trail, making it ideal for spotting wildlife and admiring the scenery. The trail is easy to follow and navigate thanks to well-maintained and clear markers.
Experience the Ultimate Wildlife Adventure at the Greenwich Audubon Center!
The center boasts a diverse range of wildlife, including 201 bird species, 27 mammal species, and 24 species of reptiles and amphibians. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and observe in their natural habitats:
- River otters
- Wood ducks
- White-tailed deer
- Flying squirrels
- Wild turkeys
- And bluebirds
Nature lovers will find no shortage of excitement at the Greenwich Audubon Center with its rich and diverse wildlife. Discover the magic of seasonal highlights such as:
- The Spotted Salamanders’ late-winter migration to their breeding pond
- The spring warbler migration
- The late-summer meadow insects
- And the Saw-whet Owl’s nocturnal fall migration
Events at the Greenwich Audubon Center: Hawk Watch
Every fall, the skies over Greenwich, Connecticut, come alive with the migration of thousands of hawks, eagles, and falcons. These magnificent birds of prey are drawn to the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch site at the Greenwich Audubon Center Main Sanctuary. Quaker Ridge, one of Greenwich’s highest points, offers a front-row seat to this annual avian spectacle.
Quaker Ridge is one of many authorized hawk counting sites across the country. Here, they collect crucial data on 17 different species of raptors to aid in determining the status of these birds in this hemisphere. The migration typically reaches its peak in mid-September, on days with northerly winds. Those days provide the perfect conditions for hawk watchers to catch a glimpse of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks in a single day.
Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the incredible beauty and power of these birds as they make their way to their wintering grounds. Visit the Greenwich Audubon Center’s Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch and be a part of the awe-inspiring migration of raptors.
Other Greenwich Audubon Sanctuaries
The center manages seven Audubon nature sanctuaries open to the public. The organization protects a total of 686 acres throughout Greenwich.
Visitors can experience the tranquil beauty of these nature sanctuaries every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset.
Fairchild Wildflower Audubon Sanctuary
The Fairchild Wildflower Audubon Sanctuary is located in a pristine corner of town on 135 acres of diverse wetland habitats. The winding trails, mature deciduous forests, peaceful streams, and sparkling ponds give a relaxed hike. The sanctuary has 8 miles of trails and is a popular birding destination, particularly during spring and fall migration. Because of its breathtaking landscapes, diverse habitats, and abundant wildlife, the Fairchild Sanctuary is a must-see for nature lovers.
Oneida Audubon Sanctuary
The Oneida Audubon Sanctuary is a serene oasis in the bustling central Greenwich area. Spanning only 4 acres, it preserves a rare saltwater marsh ecosystem and provides vital habitat for migratory birds, fish, and shellfish. Murray Mortimer donated the property to the local Audubon Society in the 1970s. He cherished the memories of exploring the Greenwich Audubon Center in his youth. A short path leads from the entrance to a bench overlooking the marsh, offering a peaceful view of Egrets and Great Blue Herons in the marsh grasses. Be sure to respect the delicate nature of the tidal wetlands and refrain from walking in the marsh.
Hemlock Gorge Audubon Sanctuary
Nestled away is how to describe the 37-acre Hemlock Gorge Audubon Sanctuary. This hidden gem offers miles of trails for visitors to explore and admire the diverse landscape. With over half of the property covered by a lush hemlock forest and the rest featuring oak, beech, and maple forest, the sanctuary provides a cool and shaded escape during the summer months. The sparkling western branch of the Byram River borders the property, making it a picturesque destination for nature lovers. During the spring, visitors can witness the flourishing of wildflowers and potentially spot Great-horned Owls and River Otters in the winter. Currently, there is no trail map available, making this sanctuary a true treasure waiting to be discovered.
And be sure to download a free copy of the Greenwich Visitor’s Guide for all the top attractions, activities, and things to do in Greenwich, Connecticut!