Hunting Map Trails: 6 miles Rating: ★★☆☆☆
My expectations for Bishop Swamp was an easy gravel path that provided access to the swamp, the resulting hike was very different. I found no evidence of trail maps as most people use Bishop Swamp as a fishing and boating area. So the GPS track above may be the closest thing to an official trail map available. Unfortunately, I prematurely hit the pause button and had to draw in the last bit of the center loop.
From the parking area on 603, I started out on a rutted gravel road washed out by years of rains. A third of a mile in the trail has been overgrown by thorny blackberries and a path has been cut to the left to circumvent. The understory here is very thick and I couldn’t see much beyond the edge of the trail. Throughout the first mile, horse flies swarmed overhead and hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of small frogs hopped out of the way in any grass section. Passing over a gas pipeline utility corridor I paused to let the dragonflies zipping in the sunlight pick off some of my horsefly followers. I called this section, Frog Gap.
Just past a mile, I crouched under a long section of overgrown trail after which the woods opened up and the trail forked. I headed right first and started passing thick stone walls and with a little bit of searching found an old foundation. The area had to have been farmed or used for raising animals, but I haven’t found evidence to back it up. I called this section of the trail Farmwall.
From here the trail forks again one section that appears to never be used dead ends at private property near New Boston Hill and Hurst Farm. The other crosses a small (likely man-made) pond before reaching East St. This side is ungated and you can see attempts have been made to get down it by the ruts in the mud where vehicles get stuck.
Back by the old foundation, the other fork heads along the edge of the swamp but never gets close enough for a real view. It seems this part of the trails is recent logging roads though probably not for at least a year or more. Following the trail southwest headed back towards East St and eventually came upon an abandoned house. The sun was setting just right going through an open window that it looked like there were lights on inside, but pushing through the weeds to the open door proved otherwise. Gaping holes in the floor show piles of beer cans and graffiti proclaims, “Andover people smoke here, weed is good!”. I call this “spur” trail the Lily House Trail for the native orange daylilies growing around it. At over five miles in I was ready to be done and thankfully the last trail to explore looped back to near the old foundation.
So in lieu of blazes or any official map here is my named ExploreCT trail map:
The swamp itself is 52.49 acres is also known as Jurovaty Pond and is very popular for fishing. It can be boated, though Kayaking with Lou noted that only about a third is open enough to do so. Quiet Water describes, “Paddling is slow-going on this weed-choked pond. We saw an otter family here; you could see muskrat and beaver. Canada goose and wood duck both nest here. We watched crows mob a great horned owl.” It is stocked with fish (like shock) by the DEEP.
In 2020, the DEEP acquired another 284 acres in Hebron to add to Bishop Swamp, formerly known the Fracchia property. The new acquisition means this WMA now shares boundaries with Meshomasic State Forest and Gay City State Park. The property was acquired in two phases with funding from the State Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program and Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. Phase two of the acquisition was completed in 2020, unclear when the first phase went through.
- Kayaking with Lou – Bishop Swamp (archive link 2016)
- Alex Wilson & John Hayes, Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island: AMC’s Canoe and Kayak Guide, 3rd Edition
- DEEP News Release – Bishop Swamp Wildlife Management Area Adds Acreage (2022)
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Last updated July 21st, 2018
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