Here in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed, we invite you to discover a dramatic forest and gorge landscape, take in the vista, and watch the secrets of the Bahar Nature Preserve unfold before you as you explore.
Within the folds of farmland next to Skaneateles Lake, lies a hidden forest that calls to visitors yearning for an enchanted retreat. Although most evidence of an old mill disappeared many years ago, an old sluiceway guides hikers up to a knoll shaded by hemlock trees. On the hill, hikers are treated to a startling view of the 100-foot-deep Bear Swamp Creek ravine. The preserve extends across the creek and up the other slope.
Despite the loss of treasured ancient trees to logging about 20 years ago, the younger forest is making a fine comeback, and has much to offer anyone wishing to explore nature. The trees support many large, old grapevines. Winding themselves around a sapling, the woody grapevines grow with the tree, and can be found gnarled and twisted, coiling up a maple or ash in search of sunlight. A carpet of mosses and ferns such as shining clubmoss and maidenhair fern add to the lush vegetation. White trillium and Jack-in-the-pulpit are among the wildflowers that add color to the green forest floor.
The Bahar Preserve includes 65 feet of Skaneateles lakeshore, which is a fine place to beach a canoe or kayak before hiking up the ridge trail.
Please do not park at the beach area. Swimming is not allowed.
An exceptional land steward and wilderness lover, Hu Bahar intended to keep his forested gorge untouched. Honoring her late husband’s desire to preserve their family land, Dawn Bahar sold the original 25-acre preserve to the Finger Lakes Land Trust at a significantly reduced price in 1998. In 2005, the Land Trust more than doubled the size of the preserve by acquiring an adjacent 33-acre parcel, and then purchased another 29-acre parcel in 2007. These more recent additions were very significant in that it permanently protected public access to dramatic Carpenter Falls and a series of other falls in the gorge.
In 2008, the Land Trust conveyed 36 acres to New York State, creating the Carpenter Falls State Unique Area. The remaining 51 acres of land downstream toward the lake continue to be managed as the Land Trust’s Bahar Nature Preserve. The Land Trust has entered into a cooperative management agreement with the state, engaging volunteers to help take care of this special place. In 2022, the state completed access improvements at Carpenter Falls including an elevated boardwalk leading 630 feet from the parking lot to an observation platform, accessible to people with mobility impairments.
Please see our public use policies for recreational activities on nature preserves.
Go Finger Lakes
Go Finger Lakes is the free web site created by the Finger Lakes Land Trust to promote recreation and conservation. Use the interactive map of over 50 hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, and outdoor adventure destinations across the region!