Photo: John Sutton

Dickinson Conservation Area

The Cora Kampfe Dickinson Conservation Area protects 1,350 feet of shoreline and high bluffs that are known locally as the “Staghorn Cliffs.”  Access to the preserve is currently by boat only, with no safe access to the upland forest portion of the preserve.

Natural History

Once open agricultural land, the preserve is now covered by a middle-aged hardwood forest, featuring red and sugar maples, oaks, and a variety of other hardwood trees commonly found in the region.  This forest blankets the steep hillside that rises up above the line of high lakeshore cliffs, helping to protect the water quality of Skaneateles Lake and contributing to the scenic forested backdrop of the lake.

The lakeshore bedrock here contains the staghorn coral fossils, which are the most notable and unique conservation feature of the preserve.  The Staghorn Cliffs of Skaneateles Lake are recognized as one of NY’s premiere paleontological sites, and are well known examples of an ancient coral reef from the Devonian Period, ca. 400-350 million years ago.  Visitors will be amazed to find tens of thousands of individual fossil horn corals embedded in the exposed bedrock of the lakeshore here.

Access to the Cora Kampfe Dickinson Conservation Area is currently by boat only, with no safe access to the upland forest portion of the preserve.  Collecting is forbidden.

History

The 21 acres of land and shoreline on Skaneateles Lake that make up the Cora Kampfe Dickinson Conservation Area was generously donated to the Finger Lakes Land Trust in February 2011 by David Dickinson, Gary Dickinson, Laura Dickinson Maguire, Holly Dickinson Wilson, and Thomas Dickinson in honor of David’s parents Cora Kampfe and William Gilford Dickinson who purchased the property in the 1940s.

Public Use

Please see our public use policies for recreational activities on nature preserves.

Directions

Visitors can launch a boat from the Town of Scott park at the south end of Skaneateles Lake. From there, its about a 2.5 mile trip up to the Staghorn Cliffs, on the east side of the lake. Land Trust signs mark the boundary of the preserve.