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Newest Additions

Salem Riverside Preserve

Salem Riverside Preserve

Salem Land Trust Property

4.6 acres in Salem. CT

Parking: Small lot near 345 Darling Rd, Salem, CT

Trail Map


The Salem Riverside Preserve is the newest property of the Salem Land Trust.  I visited in the early fall of 2019 and found a short well maintained .25 mile loop.

From the parking area you pass close to private property and through dense understory as you head downhill towards the waterway.  The Salem Land Trust site notes,

In the spring a healthy vernal pool containing clusters of Wood Frog and Spotted Salamander eggs can be found. The forest is partly oak/beech/maple upland, and partly pine/hardwood upland. The river banks are lined with laurel and much of the understory of the forested areas is blueberry and huckleberry.

You soon reach a small clearing among some beech trees with a view of the east branch of the Eightmile River.  The area is rock lined and peaceful.  The loop then continues back to the parking area.

History:

Preserved by the Salem Land Trust by donation in 2018.


Links:

The information shown here is for general reference purposes only. exploreCT.org gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability of this data. Parking in all areas, whether designated here or not, is at your own risk. exploreCT.org is not responsible for any damage or loss to vehicles or contents.
Last updated Sept. 30, 2019
Bingham Preserve

Alf & Sylvia Bingham Preserve

Salem Land Trust Property

4 acres in Salem, CT

Parking: Tiny lot for 2 cars at 194 Darling Road Salem, CT

Trail Map


The tiny Bingham Preserve still boasts a half-mile trail that the Salem Land Trust describes as easy footpath with a gradual hill.  From the trailhead you pass between active farmland fields towards the woods.  Red blazes point the way and cute markers adorned with bluejays warn of crossing the stone wall onto private property.

Entering the woods the trail follows a wide flat path behind the field.  Here too the markers with bluejays warn of private property.  The trail soon splits and I took the right path that heads slightly uphill before descending quickly to a view of the beaver pond.  There are at least two lodges within sight, I saw no recent signs of activity along the bank though Peter Marteka notes activity in January of 2018.

The trail then climbs back up another hill as it loops back towards the fields with No Trespassing blue jay markers on either side of the trail.  It’s difficult to enjoy a walk in the woods when you’re constantly and passive aggressively reminded to never step off the trail.

History:

The property was donated in 2008 to the Salem Land Trust in memory of Alfred and Sylvia Bingham. From the Salem Land Trust site, “Alf Bingham was a State Senator and Probate Judge from Salem and Sylvia Bingham taught at the Salem School. Both life-long naturalists, they donated land to the State of CT that is now the part of Nehantic State Forest.”


Links:

Peter Marteka – A Trip To A Big Gorge And Pastoral Farm In Salem (2018)

The information shown here is for general reference purposes only. exploreCT.org gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability of this data. Parking in all areas, whether designated here or not, is at your own risk. exploreCT.org is not responsible for any damage or loss to vehicles or contents.
Last updated Sept. 30, 2019
Big Brook Gorge Preserve

Big Brook Gorge Preserve

Salem Land Trust Property

19.67 acres in Salem, CT

Parking: Between the guardrails near 750 Hartford Road Salem, CT

Trail Map


I had a false start hiking this property, I parked at the end of the first guard rail instead of just a bit further down between two sections of guardrail.  I wandered in the woods for a bit hoping to come across a blazed trail before admitting I had to be in the wrong area.

Sure enough just a bit down the road is a trailhead sign just in the woods and a well blazed trail.  The section of trail parallel to the road passes large rock formations before descending to cross a feeder stream of Big Brook. Shortly after is an opportunity to hop on the blue loop, but instead I pushed through the ferns working my way to the gorge.

The gorge has long sloping walls like a condensed valley and the trail seems to enter at its end.  Big Brook was a trickle during my late September visit.  The trail follows the brook bed and stops soon after at the property’s boundary.  Having accidentally explored further north, I can tell you the gorge gets more impressive with high rock walls along the western side, but that unfortunately lies outside the preserved land.

I caught the blue trail on the way back ascending the hill next to the gorge with mountain laurel all around.  The peak of the hill provides a half-hearted vantage of the gorge below.  The trail then descends through thickets as it returns to the red trail.  The trail was clear enough to pass, but was the only section that wasn’t open forest.

History:

This property was preserved in 2010 when it was purchased from the Wheaton family. The CT DOT owns the land along Rt 85, but allowed the Salem Land Trust to place a new trailhead sign in 2018 so that the property would be easier to find.


Links:

Peter Huoppi – Big Brook Gorge Preserve (2016)

Peter Marteka – A Trip To A Big Gorge And Pastoral Farm In Salem (2018)

The information shown here is for general reference purposes only. exploreCT.org gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability of this data. Parking in all areas, whether designated here or not, is at your own risk. exploreCT.org is not responsible for any damage or loss to vehicles or contents.
Last updated Sept. 30, 2019
Darling Road Preserve

Darling Road Preserve

Salem Land Trust Property

142.5 acres in Salem, CT

Parking: Small lot at 428 Darling Rd. and shoulder parking near 470 Darling Rd.

Trail Map


From the main trailhead at 428 the trail heads uphill through ferns and along stonewalls without much to note.  However, as I approached the Orange/Goodwin/Red trail junction I saw a small animal slink over a low stonewall.  Staying quiet I slipped to the other side of the stonewall and caught sight of a bobcat.  I whistled to their attention and we watched each other for awhile.

I skipped the 1.2 mile yellow trail and headed for the oak marked on the map.  The narrow path to the old oak is clearly marked but overgrown.  At the end of the trail is a massive oak at 79′ feet tall.  A small ladder at the back allows you to climb to a small flat area among the tree limbs.

The trail heads downhill easily until it reaches the tri-town marker a small upright stone.  Unlike the rest of the trial the marker is not marked so you can easily pass it.  It is a few steps from where the Goodwin Trail leaves the property.

I returned on the blue loop which was overgrown and essentially unused.  Then I took the red trail back down to Darling Road and walked back to the main parking lot.

History:

From the Salem Land Trust site:

Darling Road Preserve’s original 109 acres were purchased from the Litsky Family in two separate purchases… In August 2018 the SLT Board gratefully accepted The Nature Conservancy’s offer to transfer ownership of their 33.5-acre Winslow Preserve to the Salem Land Trust; this parcel is now part of the Darling Road Preserve.”


Links:

Connecticut’s Notable Trees – Salem Oak

Peter Marteka – Salem’s Darling Road Preserve Harks Back To Earlier Times (2015)

The information shown here is for general reference purposes only. exploreCT.org gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability of this data. Parking in all areas, whether designated here or not, is at your own risk. exploreCT.org is not responsible for any damage or loss to vehicles or contents.
Last updated Sept. 30, 2019
Burnham Brook Preserve

Burnham Brook Preserve

The Nature Conservancy Property

1,122 acres in East Haddam, CT

Parking: Shoulder parking before 2 Dolbia Hill Road, East Haddam, CT

No Official Trail Map


At 2.2 miles the Burnham Brook Preserve loop sounds short.  Thankfully interesting terrain and a couple surprises combine to feel a bit more memorable.  Reviews on AllTrails seem to unanimously agree that the hike is great except that it can be too overgrown to navigate easily.  Hiking this loop you will almost definitely push through knee high blueberry, waist ferns, and even young saplings.  In addition, at the back of the loop (the funny tail at the southwest/bottom-left) the trail obviously heads downhill until you realize there aren’t any blazes.  Instead, from the last visible blaze look up the slope to the left and you’ll see another through some trees.  Now that you are forearmed here’s the rest of the description:

From the trailhead the descends along the stonewall border of the nearby fields.  The trail is easy to follow even if a bit narrow and the blue blazes have been recently updated with plastic arrow markers.  At about a half mile you reach Burnham Brook, a true babbling brook with mossy rocks and shadowed pines. Past this point the trail is overgrown as soon as you start heading uphill away from the brook.  You pass a plaque for founder John Ide who gifted the original 46 acres that started this preserve.

One of my favorite parts of this hike was a forested glen so filled with picturesque ferns that I half expected to come across a cozy cottage with smoke coming from its chimney.  Alas, no such scene awaited me and I continued on to the overlook at the back of the loop.  A short rocky scramble takes you to a ridge with a decent view of the forest below you.  Navigating the rocks on the ridge takes you down to the tricky area I described in the first paragraph.  As long as you take the blazed path up the slope you will reach another ridgeline before coming down the other side.  The last surprise of the trail is an enormous glacial erratic with a plaque for the poem Soil by Richard Goodwin.

History:

Established in 1960 with a gift of 46 acres in 1960 the property has grown to 1,122 since then thanks to Richard and Esther Goodwin.


Links:

The information shown here is for general reference purposes only. exploreCT.org gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability of this data. Parking in all areas, whether designated here or not, is at your own risk. exploreCT.org is not responsible for any damage or loss to vehicles or contents.
Last updated Sept. 23, 2019