I'm actually 20% there after Holly, her puppy and I spent a few hours in Eldridge Swamp on New Years Day. This is the most recently acquired of the five. The McLenithan family sold 515 acres to New York State in 2005. It's located about three miles east of Cambridge on both sides of Rt. 313. There are three small parking spots: two on the right and one on the left (heading east). The swamp is on the northwest side of the road and uplands are on the southeast. To visit the swamp park in the pull-off on the left of a downhill S bend.
After several cold nights I had hoped the swamp would be frozen. Wrong again! It seems that springs feeding the area supply a constant flow that impedes freezing. While there was no snow and some solid ground there was also open water in places. When walking look for places where White Pines are growing. This tends to be higher and drier ground.
by David Cook and Ralph Smith (Ecology Volume No. 40 [July, 1959] No. 3: 333-337) accessed at JSTOR.
White Spruce is not a rare tree. It covers huge swaths of boreal forest in Canada. The population in Eldridge is significant because it's far to the south of its normal range. Coincidentally the Sycamore trees that line the Battenkill just a short distance away are near the northern limit of their range. What's that about strange bedfellows?
Geologists say Eldridge Swamp had its origins as the last glacier was retreating. A large block of stagnant ice occupied the site damning the Battenkill Valley drainage. Sediments were deposited around the sides of the block until it eventually melted leaving a depression that became the swamp. Cold, alkaline springs flow out of the banks on the south and southwest sides creating the microclimate that allows White Spruce to persist.
We saw one such spring while walking an old skid trail. From underneath a fallen log it bubbled up and flowed downslope before disappearing into the wetland. Other springs were once tapped for the Cambridge Village water supply and the Conservation Department fish hatchery.