Bernard Church Woods
37 acres in Chaplin, CT
Parking: Shoulder parking near 385 Bujak Rd, Chaplin, CT
Trail Map Trails: 0.5 miles Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
I first visited this property in the summer of 2016 as I was completing a hike of each and every Joshua’s Trust property in celebration of their 50th Anniversary. It was a rough first visit. From the shoulder parking a rough trail headed off into the woods through a stone wall. It quickly became apparent that no one ever hikes this property.
The trail was faint or completely overgrown but there were enough of the familiar yellow blazes to wind my way through the woods. Crossing over a seasonal stream brought me the edge of an active hay field. The grasses were waist high as I wandered about looking for the next blaze and in the process scaring off a pair of deer. I found a blaze amidst some poison ivy and decided continuing wasn’t worth it.
My next visit was nearly four years later in the spring of 2020. The property has since acquired a new trailhead sign and received some active forest management. As I headed off on the same rough trail through a stonewall, this time the trees had been heavily thinned and there were deep ruts just off the trail from heavy equipment. This has apparently become a popular spot for deer as their droppings were everywhere (I also picked up 3 ticks on this hike when I rarely get any).
The trail was much easier to follow this time, but the seasonal stream crossing was as awkward as I remembered. The field was out of season and easily passable which allowed me to discover that the trail follows the field edge all the way Bujak Rd. You could road walk back to the car, but I chose to backtrack through the woods. Here’s to hoping the forest bounces back to become an attractive parcel again.
The property was preserved in 1993. From the Joshua’s Trust site,
“This attractive parcel was the gift of Mildred W. Church, the widow of Bernard Church, and of her two daughters and her son. Bernard Church was Town Clerk of Chaplin for 52 years.”
The oldest record for the land is from the Revolutionary War when it was owned by Judah Storrs. His brother owned the adjacent property to the west where he and his family lived in the “Storrs Mansion” of which a cellar hole can be found at the end of Tower Hill Extension. At some point the property was purchased Reverend Francis Williams who sold 90 acres to Clifton Church in 1892. The land was farmed and stayed in the Church family until the early 1980s when a natural gas pipeline went through the property. Part of the land was sold to the gas company for a pumping station and the current 37 acres was donated to Joshua’s Trust.
Joshua’s Trust – Bernard Church Woods – Folklore and History (2020)
YouTube – Bernard Church Woods Folklore
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Last updated March 30th, 2020
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