With huge, towering cliffs surrounding you as you follow a frozen stream that cuts through the ravine to a beaver pond and swamp, you can't help but feel small in this preserve near the Connecticut River. The mile-long trail is a joy to take in the frozen winter with no worries about mosquitoes and ticks.
I'm glad I returned. The trail begins in a forest of oak and mountain laurel. Walking can be a bit difficult as you pass over a series of rocky outcroppings before traveling through more mountain laurel and past a large vernal pool. After a few more rocky outcrops, the namesake of the trail lies before you. Huge trees grow on top of the ravine making it look even more intimidating. Huge icicles winter stalactites - hang from the bedrock outcroppings adding to the sense of wonder and awe.
Visitors can feel like giants again as the trail reaches the beaver pond and swamp and climbs to the top of an overlook. The overlook provides a wonderful view of the surrounding hillsides and the swamp with all its dead trees filled with woodpecker holes. You are going to want to explore the huge boxy bedrock in detail with all its grooves, fractures and fissures.
The trail descends to the beaver pond and there are plenty of signs the beavers have been active with half-eaten tree trunks and gnawed stumps. The trail continues through the forest to Mitchell Hill Road where hikers turn around and walk back through the preserve. Be on the lookout for some strange water flows with some streams draining the ravines flowing south to Joshua Creek and others flowing north to Whalebone Creek.
If the two miles through the ravine are not enough, feel free to visit Selden Creek Preserve. Be sure to take the mile-long white-blazed trail. The trail ends at a huge granite outcropping with an expansive view of the marshes of Selden Creek and the 600-acre Selden Neck State Park — the largest island along the 410-mile-long Connecticut River.
So no matter if you walk in the land of giants or to the outcropping with its marshy view, this pair of preserves make for a nice morning or afternoon of hiking.
The trailhead for the Ravine Trail is on Joshuatown Road across from the entrance to Selden Creek Preserve. Take I-95 to Exit 70 and follow Route 156 through the Hamburg section of Lyme.
Take a left on Old Hamburg Road located shortly after Reynolds Subaru. At the bridge, bear left on Joshuatown Road. After passing Mitchell Hill Road, the preserve is about 1.5 miles on the left. For a map of the preserve visit www.lymelandtrust.org and click on "Trails & Properties" and scroll down to Selden Creek.