Upper Nyack: New nature preserve opens near Hook Mountain


Hook Mountain visible through the trees from the hiking trail at the Marydell Nature Preserve, steps from connecting to the Long Path. Photo by David Neil

UPPER NYACK — Hikers, preservationists and nature enthusiasts have gained 8 acres of undeveloped land, following the donation of property near Hook Mountain and Nyack Beach State Park that’s been renamed the Marydell Nature Preserve.

New signs will soon be installed at hiking trailheads at Midland Avenue and Radcliff Drive. The trail has connections to the Long Path, Hook Mountain and the River Hook Hester Haring Cason Preserve.

The land, donated in October by the Institute of Christian Doctrine to the Friends of Rockland Lake & Hook Mountain, protects wetlands and wildlife habitat while ensuring continued public access. The institute also owns the land where Marydell Faith and Life Center is situated. 

The habitat is home to a wide variety of woodland plants and wildlife an open, peaceful environment where the hush of the woods offers a tranquil background for frogs, birdsongs and the sound of spring water making its way down the mountainside.

The Friends of Rockland Lake & Hook Mountain are responsible for maintaining the site in accordance with a conservation easement negotiated with the institute. The nonprofit Friends provided volunteer hours and funding to complete the transaction.

"The Preserve is yet another reminder that the land may be of the Heavens but its protection is thanks to the generosity and hard work of individuals committed to long-term environmental stewardship,” stated David Neil, board chair of the Friends.

Upper Nyack resident and Friends board member Bob Stien noted that during the nearly 100 years the Sisters have owned the acreage at the base of Hook Mountain, thousands of visitors had enjoyed the tranquil setting.

“We are very fortunate that the Sisters have chosen to donate an additional 8 acres to the Friends of Rockland Lake and Hook Mountain so that this land can be preserved forever,” Stien stated.

Sister Veronica of the Institute of Christian Doctrine said the organization had tried unsuccessfully to sell the property for 20 years.

“Our prayer led us to the realization that, perhaps, God’s desire was the preservation of these acres,” she stated.

The Friends of Rockland Lake & Hook Mountain and the Institute of Christian Doctrine have worked together for more than 10 years to protect nearly 50 acres at the southern base of Hook Mountain and its vicinity.

In addition to the recent 8-acre acquisition, here are their other preservation efforts:

  • 2017 – 30 acres

The Friends worked with the Trust for Public Land and other parties to acquire 30 acres for $3.1 million. This acreage was incorporated into Hook Mountain and Nyack Beach State Parks, and enabled the creation of the 1.5-mile Hook Mountain Summit Trail, which opened in June 2021.

  • 2017 – 10 acres

In 2017, the Friends secured a conservation easement and right of first refusal covering 10 acres of private property at the southern base of Hook Mountain, still owned by the Institute of Christian Doctrine.

Robert Brum is a freelance journalist who writes about the Hudson Valley. Visit robertbrum.com to read his work.

An eastern-looking view of woods and hiking trail within the Marydell Nature Preserve. Photo by David Neil
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