Nature Up Close: Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area

Welcome to the Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area (RRMSEA), a sensitive and unique natural area.  It is located on the Auburn Trail extension,  in the Upper Irondequoit Creek valley,  in the town of Victor, NY.  Victor is one of the most rapidly growing towns in the state, and RRMSEA is a little known treasure.   In this short, flat 3000' stretch, there is an extraordinary diversity of birds, butterflies, frogs, and other creatures; an amazing variety of native plants, several types of wetlands, and scenic views. In this wilderness-like setting, visitors are often treated to close-up views of birds, butterflies, turtles, and other wildlife.  In RRMSEA you can experience 'nature up close.'

        Great mix of Habitats: Wetlands, Woodlands, Thickets and Meadow that are home to:
  • Over 300 Species of Plants - 71% are Native
  • 130 Species of Birds - 48 Breeding
  • 41 Species of Butterflies - offering great close-up looks
  • 9 Species of Frogs as well as Salamanders, nesting Turtles and Snakes
  • Mammals including Beaver, Fox, Deer, Raccoon
  • Good Variety of Dragonflies and Damselflies
  • Showy Mushrooms
  • and lots more to be discovered!

About the Trail - Rich in Biodiversity

RRMSEA is located in a wild, several mile long, riparian corridor, so important in our rapidly developing region.  The biodiversity of the Irondequoit Creek Valley is outstanding,  and RRMSEA is at its center.   The trail runs on a historic raised railroad bed, built over 150 years ago,  in the floodplain of Irondequoit Creek.  It offers  users a unique 'wilderness experience'  in a developed area, as it passes through a linear meadow of grasses and wildflowers,  surrounded by an astounding variety of trees and shrubs, wetlands, woodlands, and thickets.

The plant life along the trail is surprisingly diverse, and includes species that are threatened in New York, as well as many that are locally rare.  There are unique plant communities as well, including a fen – an alkaline wet meadow - a locally rare ecosystem.  
The enormous variety of plants along the trail, and its location of the trail adjacent to wetlands and woodlands, are some of the reasons that this short linear stretch has recorded one of the highest diversity of butterflies in western New York: 41 species of butterflies have been recorded on this 1/2 mile section alone!

The diverse ecosystems are home each year to a large proportion of the birds that can be found in Eastern North America. The mix of habitats and food supply attracts them.  The scenic trail, passing by wetlands on both sides, concentrates them.  RRMSEA is recognized as one of our region's top birding destinations.

 The wetlands along nearly the entire stretch of the Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area are habitat for many  amphibians and reptiles.  Visit on a warm April night, and you will be immersed in natural sounds, as frogs are incessantly, loudly, calling for mates. Visit in early June - you may see a snapping turtle right on the path, digging its nest in the cinders. Return in early fall - you may find its hatchling, the size of a quarter,
warming in the sunlight on the black cinders in the center of the trail (photo at right.)


Peruse this website.  Better – visit the area on your own, or one of the walks offered by any of our Member Organizations.  You will see why we want to preserve this short section for today’s users and tomorrow’s generations. It can be destroyed in an instant;  if preserved, it will give a priceless legacy to our children and grandchildren.

For more information, please e-mail