Here in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed, we invite you to discover a dramatic forest and gorge landscape, take in the vista, skip stones along the shoreline, 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, a 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 featuring beautiful Carpenter Falls. 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 young forest is making a fine comeback, and has much to offer anyone wishing to explore. 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.
Note: Please do not swim!
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 permanently protect public access to Carpenter Falls and a series of other falls within the gorge.
In 2008, the Land Trust conveyed 36 acres to New York State, creating the Carpenter Falls Unique Area. The remaining 51 acres of land downstream toward the lake continue to be owned and 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.