Big Brook Gorge Preserve
19.67 acres in Salem, CT
Parking: Between the guardrails near 750 Hartford Road Salem, CT
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.
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.
Peter Huoppi – Big Brook Gorge Preserve (2016)
Peter Marteka – A Trip To A Big Gorge And Pastoral Farm In Salem (2018)