The 100-acre Dobbins Woods Preserve contains two different kinds of forest habitats which can be reached by a loop trail suitable for both hiking and cross country skiing.
Natural History Interest
The site occupies a ridgetop overlooking Chautauqua Lake. There is a small wetland at the top of the ridge, out of which flows the headwaters of two Chautauqua Lake tributaries. Two distinct forest communities occupy the property. The western 52 acres exhibits the “pit and mound topography” that characterizes forests that have not been plowed for cropland. The forest floor here rises and falls, revealing places where trees long ago uprooted and toppled over due to wind storms, leaving only mounds and depressions in the soil to show where trees have rotted away.
The moist forest is dominated by Red Maple, Eastern Hemlock, and Yellow Birch, some of which are very large. Other tree species include Cucumber Magnolia, Tuliptree, Sugar Maple, American Beech, Shagbark Hickory, Black Cherry, Northern Red Oak and White Oak. Hawthorn, Eastern Hornbeam, Northern Arrowwood, and Common Spicebush occur in the understory.
Who To Contact
The Dobbins Woods Preserve is owned and maintained by the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. There are no restrooms or other facilities at the site, and parking is currently along the road. The CWC offers walks and other public tour opportunities from time to time. For information about the CWC or public offerings visit their website.
How To Get There
Dobbins Woods Preserve is located just south of I-86 and less than a mile from Chautauqua Lake. From exit 8 (Mayville, Lakewood) off I-86, take NY 394 east approximately 2.5 miles to Bly Hill Road on your right. Turn right onto Bly Hill Road and proceed to Dobbin’s Woods. The woods are located on the left side of the road. They begin approximately 0.5 miles from NY 394 and end approximately 1.2 miles from NY 394. Park beside the road.
What To See
The eastern 48 acres is composed of abandoned farmland. It was planted with Red Pine and Scotch Pine, which now are gradually being replaced with a naturally invading mixture of hardwood trees. Ferns and wildflowers are abundant on the property. It is an especially good place to appreciate spring-blossoming wildflowers. Among those that may be seen are both Red and White Trillium, Yellow Trout Lily, Canada Mayflower, Wild Oats, Perfoliate Bellwort, Solomon’s Seal, False Solomon’s Seal, Marsh Marigold, Kidneyleaf Buttercup, Goldthread, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Mayapple, Blue Cohosh, Common Toothwort, Spring Beauty, Foamflower, Miterwort, Starflower, and Round-leaved Yellow Violet. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy started a biological inventory of the site in 1995 and has additional data on the life discovered thus far.
Why It’s Important To Conservation
The diversity of the Dobbins Woods Preserve forest along with the understory filled with ferns and wildflowers in great numbers exemplify a healthy and productive woodland habitat. The wildlife within this community is as varied and significant as the plants surrounding it. The hardwood forest and conifer plantation make for a wonderful home to dozens of nesting bird species and the woodlands are filled with migrant birds traveling north in the spring and fall in the winter. Advanced and specific studies on other aspects of the biological community would likely yield multiple species of interest and importance.