Blue Goose Trail

Submitted by Bill Pritchett

This essay examines the quite diverse Blue Goose Trail at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. For starters, from which end of the Trail should we embark? Blue Goose is more linear compared to most other trails in the Refuge, where one can park and more or less walk a loop, thus returning to one’s point of departure. The reader has two options to start his or her journey on Blue Goose, i.e., from the Boardwalk loop or the Black Farm Trail juncture.

To describe the features of the Trail, we will begin where Blue Goose departs from the Black Farm Trail at the latter’s lower end. From the waymark post beginning on the Blue Goose Trail, it is a short stroll to the Turkle Pond Road crossing. The Trail is bracketed mostly by conifer trees, and in the early to mid-spring, one can spot early Daffodils and Vinca ground cover with its lovely blue flowers. Carefully crossing Turkle Pond Road, we immediately enter a wooded area where both conifer and deciduous hardwoods abound. The Trail is at its narrowest here but quiet and well-sheltered from winter winds. Be watchful in the woods since one can often spot White-tailed Deer peering back at you.

Further along, we pass a deer hunting stand on the left where the Trail begins to widen a bit. A short distance further, we intersect an access trail that leads to the Black Farm Trail parking area on Turkle Pond Road. At this point, notice another waymark post guiding the hiker to the left and around a bend to the right. Trees along both sides here are mostly deciduous and immature. Rounding the bend, we encounter another waymark post showing the way forward on Blue Goose Trail or, a highly recommended option, to turn left on a branch of the Trail which soon traverses the woods to a clearing at the edge of Turkle Pond. The Refuge’s newest photography blind is located here on the left, the fine construction work of longtime Friend’s members George Naegele, Hilary Stanhope, and Dan Barry plus Refuge Maintenance Manager Dale Hudson. The photo blind is a great place to set up one’s equipment and wait for the abundant waterfowl which call Turkle Pond home.

We then retrace our steps, returning to the waymark post and turn left to continue on the main Trail. This section of the Trail to where it crosses Foord’s Landing Road is fairly wide and easy walking. Diverse hardwood and conifer trees to the right are more immature and dense while the forest to the left includes mature hardwoods and conifers. In the winter months when the greenery is gone, if one looks to the left, he or she may notice old foundation stones of a structure long lost to the ages. In the evening, listen for Great Horned and Barred Owls as they call out.

As we reach the crossing of Foord’s Landing Road, the Trail offsets to the left a short distance down the gravel road where we see the waymark post again for Blue Goose. At this point, look to the right to find a vernal pond behind the trees. One can frequently see Mud Turtles and Painted Turtles on logs or bogs in the pond. One often hears water and Tree Frogs chirping as an early harbinger of spring. Sometimes when the water is deeper, Green Herons and Glossy Ibis may be seen.

Traveling forward, we stay in a wooded area until reaching a bend to the right, after which, the Trail begins to open up to a large field on the right. The Trail bends left and a mature hardwood forested area is to the left and a grassy field where wild flowers and shrubs may be spotted on the right during the warmer months. Focusing on the woods at left, one can frequently spot White-tailed Deer, perching birds, woodpeckers, Cottontail Rabbits, and other wildlife. Just ahead, we encounter another deer stand on the left. Around the stand and across the Trail to the right are abundant Daffodils in the early spring with both white and yellow blossoms. Homesteaders many years ago probably planted them. 

Keeping to the left, we reach the terminus of Blue Goose Trail as it intersects with the Boardwalk Loop. While one has to consider where to park when embarking on the 1.4 mile Blue Goose Trail, looking at a trail map (available at the Visitor’s Center and main parking lot kiosk), the Trail can be broken up into shorter segments and hiked in combination with parts of Black Farm Trail or the Boardwalk Trail to lessen the distance needed to return to one’s car.

Blue Goose is a wonderful trail – rich in wildlife and forest habitat – and provides excellent shelter on cold, windy days. It is truly one of the many jewels of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.