South Hill Natural Area East
South Hill Natural Area East is the largest of the ICNL reserves with 365 acres, the closest to Ithaca College's main campus, and the most widely and intensively used. The natural diversity and established trail system provide many opportunities for teaching, research, recreation, and economic production.
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 historical land uses is still readily apparent to the trained eye in the form of stone walls, remnant hedge rows, and wire fence lines. Today the reserve provides an excellent outdoor classroom due to its close proximity to campus and diversity of forest types and habitats. Student organizations, athletic teams, and other visitors take advantage of the diverse set of established trails.
South Hill Natural Area East protects important ecosystems, including rare plant communities, wetlands, and groves of trees 200+ years old. It has three federally designated mitigation wetlands overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Two of these are constructed, offering special opportunities for teaching and research. 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.