85 acres in Lebanon, CT
Parking: Small dirt lot near 232 Oliver Rd, Lebanon, CT
Trail Map Trails: 1.5 miles Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Whitney Forest is home to the 1.5 mile Hibbard Trail that loops through a forest managed by the CFPA. The trail was built in 2015 and starts off on an old forest road before heading north.
The trail weaves its way through a number of well-maintained stone walls of former pasture that are now filled with a young forest of oak, maple, and ash.
Dan Donahue of the CFPA says,
“you’ll see the unmistakable evidence of European-style agriculture. Fieldstone fences, some a good four feet tall, are organized and built with remarkable precision and care. Barways, gaps in the stonework designed to serve as gates, are strategically located to facilitate the early husbandry of grazing livestock.” The trail also passes through wetlands and over small streams so there are frequent rustic boardwalks which are deteriorating quickly in the wet conditions.
The trail passes a series of tiny cascades of an unnamed stream. Both the stream and trail round their way to a view of a wide marsh of about 16 acres.
The map highlights two old wolf trees that have survived even the recent 2015 timber harvest forest management. The aim of the harvest was to help regenerate oak and pitch pine species and to improve the site for wildlife. This means that several areas have been thinned and/or cleared with trees left to form new animal habitat.
These areas were still mostly clear on my 2018 visit but by 2020 were a thicket of new growth. I didn’t take the time to identify any of the early succession species, but I look forward to visiting for years to come to watch a new forest take place.
A number of informational signs have been added along the trail explaining various parts of the forest.
Preserved in 1998 when Dorothy Whitney donated the land to the CFPA to be managed as a working forest in perpetuity. The trail is named for John Hibbard who was executive director of the CFPA for nearly four decades.
The property owes a great debt to Eagle Scout Elias Ricard who, with the help of Emery Gluck and fellow scouts, installed the boardwalk trail infrastructure as well as the bright entrance sign.
- Connecticut Woodlands: Winter 2012 Volume 76 No. 4 pg. 6. Interview with John Hibbard
- Eagle Scout Project Success on Whitney Forest
- Connecticut Forest and Park Association. “Connecticut Walk Book: The Complete Guide to Connecticut’s Blue-Blazed Trails.” Wesleyan University Press, 2017, p. 67.
- Scott Livingston – Hibbard Trail – The Legacy of John Hibbard (2020)
- Air Land and Seas – Whitney Forest – Hibbard Trail Review (2019)
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Last updated January 29th, 2018
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