STELLA NIAGARA PRESERVE
Stella Niagara Preserve
Location: Lewiston, Niagara County
Size: 29 acres
Hiking difficulty: Easy (note: the trail descends to the river; the return walk ascends up a slight incline)
With its 29 acres and over a quarter-mile of shoreline, the Stella Niagara Preserve is the largest privately-owned, undeveloped tract of land along the entire length of the Niagara River and is one of our region’s most ecologically and historically important places. In June 2015, the Land Conservancy purchased this remarkable property from the Sisters of St. Francis.
The property has incredible ecological importance. The entire Niagara River is an internationally designated globally significant Important Bird Area, as well as a Ramsar site, a wetland site of international importance, a distinction it shares with places like the Everglades and Yellowstone.
You will find a variety of habitats here including a riparian zone, a large meadow, a forested area, and vernal pools. These habitats support rare plants and animals like the threatened Bald Eagle and Lake Sturgeon, as well as an endangered shrub called Ninebark.
The shallow off-shore shoal supports larval Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, and Rock Bass. The property was placed on the Niagara River Area of Concern priority habitat list in 2012, making it an international priority for protection.
Stella Niagara also has significant cultural importance. It is a nationally designated Peace Site and is part of the Niagara County Historic Trail. The preserve is also part of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.
It has been an important canoe landing site for the Haudenosaunee who use the Niagara River for transport, trade, and fishing. Known locally as the five-mile meadow, it is the very spot where the British landed in 1813 to capture Fort Niagara.
Stella has been home to the Sisters of St. Francis since 1907. The chapel, thought to be the tiniest religious structure in Western New York, was in the national spotlight in 1955 when it ‘miraculously’ survived an ice jam and flood that destroyed many other properties along the river.
The property is also home to numerous sgraffito-style murals by Józef Sławiński, a renowned Polish artist.
The preserve is located on the Niagara River along Lower River Road in Lewiston just north of Niagara Falls, across from the Stella Niagara Education Park and Center of Renewal. It is open to the public, and features walking trails and fishing access. Parking is available at the Town of Lewiston Senior Center at 4361 River Rd, Youngstown, NY 14174, but visitors should use the parking lot along Pletcher Road at the Senior Center.
Address- 4214-4448 Lower River Rd, Lewiston, NY 14092