This conservation area includes Trout Brook Valley (730 acres), Jump Hill (117 acres), and Crow Hill (162 acres), with 20.7 miles of hiking trails, all administered by Aspetuck Land Trust. It was only a few miles from Devil’s Den, where I hiked the previous Sunday. They are separated by the Saugatuck Reservoir.
I almost didn’t go because newspaper articles indicated some controversy, with many local residents walking their dogs there (off-leash) and others complaining that they were terrified to encounter off-leash dogs that were running around without owners in sight. I went anyway, and I’ve learned that Aspetuck Land Trust is conducting a wildlife habitat study to determine sensitive conservation areas, and is asking visitors to keep their dogs leashed until the study is completed in November 2012. I encountered very few people on my hike, though I did meet one couple who had two dogs (off leash). But the dogs didn’t bother me.
Some of the trails are also open to bikers, and I did see one man on a bike at the northern end of the park, and two at the southern end.
As with my hike the week before, at nearby Devil’s Den, there are no mountains, but there are plenty of hills, and some trails are marked strenuous. Those are the trails that I tried. There are a few brooks in the area, but either the trails didn’t run along them, or they were at low water levels, and therefore I didn’t enjoy the sound of running water (as I had at Devil’s Den), and I didn’t get any water shots. Likewise, because of the absence of mountains, there were not any scenic views. As a consequence, I only came back with a few photos that I consider blog-worthy. Still, I consider this a very pretty place, and combined with the fact that it isn’t highly-trafficked, I enjoyed my visit.
I parked at the southern entrance off Bradley Road and began hiking north on the red-blazed Ordway Trail.
11:50 a.m.: One doesn’t have to walk far from the parking lot before reaching an inviting wooded-hill:
The trails are generally well-marked. In a few places, an unmarked side trail led away, but it was almost always clear that it was not the main trail. Still, I became confused in a couple of places. One was on the red trail, where I came to an intersection. One way was not blazed, while the other was blazed green. As I had been on the red trail, and did not expect to turn onto the green trail, I thought perhaps I should follow the unblazed trail. However, a closer look at the map showed a break in the red trail, with the green trail filling the gap. I do not know why they have that layout. They should have that gap blazed with the red in addition to the green. The second area in which I became confused was later in the hike, when in descending a rocky hill, I followed what appeared to be a path to the left for about 0.1 miles. I realized there were no blazes, and back-tracked until I picked up the trail, which had continued straight.
12:34 p.m.: Here the trail runs through lovely green ferns:
12:58 p.m.: A tree stump encircled by eroded rocks:
I then reached the end of the red trail at the northern perimeter of Trout Brook Valley, and started northeast on the white-blazed trail into the Jump Hill Preserve.
1:14 p.m.: The trail climbs the top of a small hill:
At 1:24 p.m., the white trail intersected with a red-and-black blazed trail, which I followed to the south.
1:38 p.m.: The trail ran beside a small uninviting pond, and a snapping turtle was just sitting in the middle of the trail. I stopped to photograph her and enjoy my lunch. She didn’t move while i was there, providing a good model for my photographic efforts.
The acreage had formerly been owned by the local water authority. The water authority had originally sold this land to a developer that planned to create a golf course and luxury homes, but local residents raised millions of dollars and arranged for the Land Trust to buy the property.
1:59 p.m.: Here, on the east side, a break in the trees shows greens of The Connecticut Golf Club. (There are at least two more golf courses nearby, so I think the locals were correct to decide that they needed 20.7 miles of hiking trails instead of yet another golf course).
At 2:15 p.m., the red-and-black trail intersected the white-blazed trail that I had previously followed going north. I followed this out of the Jump Hill Preserve and into the Crow Hill Preserve, where after only 0.1 miles I switched to the yellow-blazed Ruth’s Trail.
2:26 p.m.: There was water in the area, even if I didn’t find the brooks to be impressive. Here is a photo from a swampy area:
At 2:39 p.m., the yellow trail ended and I continued south on the orange trail.
2:50 p.m: And another swampy area:
At 2:55 p.m. the orange trail intersected the blue trail, and I followed that south. Then at 3:03 p.m., I switched again to the white trail, which led me back to the parking area. The total hike was about 6.5 miles.