South Hill Natural Area East
South Hill Natural Area East is the largest of the ICNL reserves with 365 acres, the most proximate to Ithaca College's main campus, and the most heavily used. The biophysical diversity and established trail systems provide a multitude of opportunities for teaching, research, production and recreation.
Before the college’s acquisition of this land in the first half of the 20th century it was used for agriculture and livestock. Evidence of these land uses is still readily apparent to the trained eye in the form of stone walls, remnant hedgerow trees, and wire fence lines. Today the reserve provides an excellent outdoor classroom for courses due to its close proximity to campus and diversity of forest types and habitats. Student organizations, athletic teams, and other visitors, meanwhile, take advantage of the diverse set of well established trails.
South Hill Natural Area East protects remarkably important ecosystems, including rare plant communities, wetland assemblages, and trees approaching 200 years of age. It It has three mitigation wetlands overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Two of these are constructed, offering unique opportunities for research on human modification of natural systems. One has a conservation easement on it that is jointly held by the Town of Ithaca and the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Nearly all of South Hill Natural Area East is a Unique Natural Area as designated by the Environmental Management Council of Tompkins County.