Bee Brook is the perfect name for the waterway that passes through Macricostas Preserve.
At first it runs smoothly through a field of tall grass and wildflowers, like a bee quietly collecting pollen from a flower. But once it enters a deep, heavily forested ravine, the brook plunges wildly down rocky chasms and over waterfalls like an angry bee with its stinger out.
The Macricostas Preserve immediately draws visitors in with a huge swath of open fields surrounded by a forested ridgeline. The four-mile-long yellow-blazed "Meeker Trail" is your path through most of the 368-acre preserve, winding around the perimeter of the fields and high into the ridgeline. The preserve was named after Constantine "Dino" Macricostas for his "vision of permanently protecting this land," according to the trail guide.
A footbridge takes visitors across Bee Brook, a tributary of the Shepaug River. Even in August, the brook is robust, flowing crystal clear past the blooming wildflowers. The trail takes visitors around the perimeter of the field, although going off-trail through the knee-high grass and flowers as butterflies and dragonflies scatter before you is a fun jaunt.
A side trail take visitors along a boardwalk to a wildlife viewing platform on the outer edges of the scenic Meeker Swamp. Stands of red maples along with grasses and sedges fill your view as turtles sun themselves on logs and frogs plop into the water.
The overlook and forest loop trail begins at the northern portion of the field, again crossing Bee Brook and the western portion of the swamp on a series of boardwalks and bridges. Visitors have a choice of going counter-clockwise – a nearly two-mile journey – or clockwise to the overlook. Going clockwise will get you to the overlook faster, but the ascent is a little more difficult.
Visitors reach the overlook at 1,150 feet. It has a 180-degree view across the preserve's fields and out to neighboring farm fields and surrounding hills. As you stand at the overlook, you wonder what could top this view — until you hike another half-mile.
Easily one of the finest overlooks in the state, the Pinnacle — also known as Waramaug's Rock —stands at an elevation of 1,250 feet. The nearly 360-degree view showcases undulating hills and mountains, as the shadows of clouds roll like inkblots across a canvas of green forests and the deep blue Lake Waramaug. An old red barn peeks out of the hills in the distance as a solitary boat leaves a wake in the still waters. Distant summer memories are brought to life as I scan the inlets and docks of summer cottages.
I am planning a return visit to see the autumn splendor in Macricostas and then a trip to see the landscape during a New England winter. Perfection in the natural world is hard to find, but it exists along the ridges and fields of Washington.
The preserve is located along Route 202 near the intersection with Route 47. Turn on Christian Street and look for the red house at 124 Christian St. The parking area and trailhead are behind the house. Visit http://steeprockassoc.org/pdf/map_macricostas.pdf for a map of the preserve.
Peter Marteka may be reached at 860-647-5365, at pmarteka@ courant.com or at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040.Copyright © 2015, CT Now