This 114 acre parcel was donated to the North Salem Open Land Foundation in 1979 by “The Baxter Road Group”. It is known as the Racetrack by locals because of the Point to Point horse races that were held there in the 1950s.
Located on the south side of Baxter Road, this is one of the most popular and well-used of all the parcels held by NSOLF. It is frequented by hikers, dog walkers and horse-back riders and an occasional fisherman.
The preserve was enlarged by the donation of an adjacent 15 acres donated by “The Baxter 1981 Associates” in 1985.
At the heart of the preserve is a large 8 acre pond surrounded by the remains of the Racetrack and many trails described below.
Stewards: Baxter Road Committee: Brian Ivanhoe, Chair, Members: Sandy Jacobson. Jocko McKean (temp)
You can find the entrance to many of the Baxter Preserve trails in an open field located on Baxter Road across from the Goldens Bridge Hounds kennels. There are two long trails, the most prominent being the ¾ mile-long trail known as the Racetrack. The second trail branches off and returns to the Racetrack, creating a larger loop for visitors to hike. It is also approximately ¾ mile long. These trails are also used as horse paths and can be traversed on horseback as well as on foot.
The trails are mostly wide and open, lined with a variety of trees, including black cherry, cottonwood, maple and apple trees. Walking is easy as the trails are level and mostly covered with grass. Just walk along and enjoy the scenery.
The Racetrack circles the pond and features the Grandstand, a place where people watched the races, and an impressive large oak tree. Near the eastern part of the Racetrack, the trail is bounded by the stone wall and a fence. An aging sugar maple stands in the field.
The second trail in the Baxter Preserve diverges off the eastern part of the Racetrack, just beyond the sugar maple. This will lead you into several more fields where you can hike or ride. Here one may find some walnut trees and jewel weed and even the leopard frog, another interesting inhabitant of Baxter. These areas can be marshy and wet after rain, so be prepared to step through puddles if walking during those times. Smaller trails branch off and traverse more fields in the Preserve, where ironweed and purple loosestrife have flourished.
The Baxter Preserve trails are easy to walk. They provide a good view of the flora and occasionally the fauna of North Salem and a glimpse of the history of the town.