For all who love nature and walking in the woods, the 1,043-acre Pawling Nature Reserve and the area’s dominant environmental feature, the 6,000-acre Great Swamp, offer a lifetime of opportunities for hiking, canoeing and nature viewing. The visitor or resident can walk for miles on trails through the Nature Reserve, canoe in the Great Swamp, or join a group outing led by an expert provided by one of the area’s several environmental organizations. Fishing and birding are other popular activities. Oblong Trail Association and the Town trails at Murrow and Lakeside Parks offer outdoor enthusiasts opportunities aplenty.
The Pawling Nature Reserve is in the hills overlooking the Great Swamp and is completely natural except for the well-marked and maintained network of walking trails running through it. The renowned Appalachian Trail running from Georgia to Maine crosses the Great Swamp on a fine boardwalk and then goes through the Nature Reserve. The visiting hiker will often meet Appalachian Trail hikers carrying enormous backpacks needed for their 2,000 mile adventure.
The Great Swamp is one of southern New York State’s two largest remaining wetlands, extending for over twenty miles. It is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including a number of endangered plants and animals. The Village of Pawling is at its center. The Great Swamp is recognized for its ecological importance by Federal, State, and local governments and receives legal protection from all of them. Friends of the Great Swamp (nicknamed FrOGS), is a local environmental organization, dedicated to preserving the Great Swamp through science and education.