Valley Falls Park / Andrew Kenneth Webster Preserve
196 acres in Vernon, CT
Parking: Large lot near 300 Valley Falls Rd, Vernon, CT
Trail Map Trails: 9 miles Rating: ★★★☆☆
Often known as “Vernon’s Jewel”, Valley Falls has a lot to offer from simple loops around the pond, a short stretch of the Shenipsit Trail, easy access to the Hop River Trail, wooded old farm roads, and steep climbs to Echo Ridge overlook.
Shenipsit Trail – Blue Blaze – 0.2 miles
- At only 0.2 miles this blue blaze trail descends steeply off the Hop River Trail to a bench with a rough view of the pond before taking steps down to the rebuilt dam. You’ll quickly pass the falls and head along the entrance road. So good views packed into this tiny stretch, but serves more as access trail to other parts of the park.
Valley Falls Loop Trail – Blue/Yellow Blaze – 3.8 miles
Railroad Brook Trail – Yellow Blaze – 2.0 miles
Pond Loop – Orange Blaze – 0.6 miles
- From the parking area you can head either direction around the pond. Hiking counter clockwise you’ll head over the rebuilt dam with a views of the falls and the spillway. The trail starts to head uphill then descends some stairs. Though it hugs the water line for much of the trail there aren’t many views once you enter the trees. At the backside of the loop you’ll pass over a bridge crossing Railroad Brook, enter an open field, and return along a wide gravel path with fitness stations.
Lookout Trail – White Blaze – 0.6 miles
- See below
Andrew Kenneth Webster Preserve
Crossing over the Hop River Trail from Valley Falls leads into this Northern Connecticut Land Trust Property which is a functional extension of Valley Falls. The main trail is a short loop uphill known as the Lookout Trail (though the trail map above shows it as an out and back) through mountain laurel to Echo Ridge an eastern overlook perfect for sunrise views.
There are also the Boulder Crest inner and outer loops that are just over a mile long combined. These trails are much less often used so are a bit harder to follow. Largely a wooded walk with at least one steep climb the trail does briefly pass the backside of private property in a couple places. Google Maps shows it as the Bouldercrest Lane Property which is a large maintained field which the trail skirts the edge of. There are also suggestions of a rocky overlook at the backside of the loop, but it turned out to be a rocky knob with a view through the trees of some nearby rooftops. The trail then works its way back down to the Hop River Trail.
This is a popular swimming spot in the area though there were summer entrance fees through at least 2019. There is a good sized beach along the pond complete with lifeguard tower.
Valley Falls was established as a park in 1964. Read a complete history here.
The Webster Preserve was sold to the Northern Connecticut Land Trust for $94,000 by Andrew Knapp in 2004. It is named the Andrew Kenneth Webster Preserve, after Andrew Knapp’s great-grandfather. The land was originally a farmer’s wood lot until it was sold to the Knapp family around 1900.
Peter Marteka – Tiptoeing Under The Tulip Trees In Vernon (2014)
CTMQ – Valley Falls Park Trails & Belding Path (2010)
Peter Marteka – Land Trust Adds ‘Wood Lot’ In Vernon (2004)
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Last updated June 12th, 2023
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