Natural History
In addition to the immense Briggs Gully, some of which forms the southern boundary, several other gullies wind through the preserve. Diverse stands of mature forest, a wide array of wildflowers, and sweeping views of the hills surrounding Honeoye Lake's southern end make this site truly special.

The preserve's 360 acres provide excellent examples of the area's geologic history and ecological systems. Water tumbling down to the glacially carved Honeoye Lake cut the deep gullies through--and adjacent to-- the preserve. Areas more recently abandoned by farmers give the preserve a small field and a woodlot of young trees which provide additional habitats, and the wildlife that are drawn to them. Here, you'll hear yellow-throats, bluebirds and song sparrows, and may see a deer, fox, or woodchuck.

The quiet of this preserve is interrupted only by the sounds of rushing water and songs of black-throated green warblers, thrushes, chipmunks and other forest denizens. Be sure to take in the view from one of the rock outcroppings along the Gully's north rim. On the far side of the Honeoye Valley, beyond the broad expanse of Briggs Gully, you'll see the Harriet Hollister State Recreation Area.

Wesley Hill Nature Preserve

Today the hemlocks rise from shady depths of the gullies, the white pines and red pines soar above the younger maples, and the majestic oaks spread their wide branches over quiet groves.
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Over 100 years ago, after the Frosttown sawmills of the Bristol Hills fell silent, white pine, hemlock and oak seedlings began to sprout along the northern rim of Briggs Gully, one of the Finger Lakes Region's largest gorges. These young trees were tall and strong and in 1926 when three artists--John C. Wenrich, James Havens, and Colburn Dugan-- bought this 90-acre piece of paradise as a place for peace, quiet, and contemplation. Today the hemlocks rise from shady depths of the gullies, the white pines and red pines soar above the younger maples, and the majestic oaks spread their wide branches over quiet groves. Except for the maturing of the trees, little has changed since the 1920's.

 

 

The children who inherited these woods also inherited their fathers' keen sense of stewardship of the land, and have entrusted its perpetual care to the Finger Lakes Land Trust. In 1999, thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous Land Trust member, the Land Trust was able to purchase the property at a reduced price, and launch a campaign to protect additional acreage in this magnificent area. With the purchase in 2001 of two more parcels and the gift of a third, the Wesley Hill Preserve has now grown to nearly 360 acres. Someday perhaps lands already protected by other public and private agencies will be connected together, from the top of the east hill, across the Honeoye Inlet Valley, to the top of the west hill.

 

Photo Credits: Bill Davis, Jim Kersting

 

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