Peters Memorial Woods In Clinton Is A Magical Preserve

Peter Marteka

Nature's Path & Way To Go

October 3, 2010


There is a place in Peters Memorial Woods known as Rocky Glen. A rugged path leads over the glen's huge moss-covered rock ledges and outcroppings and across some strategically placed boardwalks. And you are going to want to catch your breath after the strenous climb because this is just the start of this magical preserve in the wilds of Clinton.

There are a half-dozen trails that snake through the property, owned by the Clinton Land Conservation Trust Inc., a group that has quietly preserved more than 800 acres of marshland, swamps, woodlands, unique scenic and historic sites in town during its 43-year existence.

And this preserve is right up there with other places I like to call "Connecticut Fairylands." It's an area where a bright, sunny day turns into dusk under the shade from a huge canopy of trees and evergreens. It's a place where moss and ferns seem to cover everything and streams cascade along rocky outcroppings. And the moss here – thick carpets of it and some of the brightest shades of green I've ever seen - cover everything from trees to rocks to stone walls.

The main red-blazed trail – the .4-mile Bougie Trail - is for those who enjoy a leisurely stroll through the heart of the preserve. There are interpretive signs on various trees with interesting facts like "more than 200 species of animals, insects and birds may live together in a mature white oak tree" or "rock oak produces tannin in its bark that is used in the leather industry."

My favorite trails were the most difficult ones. The longest path - the blue-blazed .65-mile Princess Pine Trail - takes visitors along dramatic rock outcroppings and stone walls. The yellow-blazed Brook Trail takes visitors from the parking lot into the huge rocky glen. The ravine, made up of glacial rock deposits and the remains of volcanic upheaval, is a bit strenuous as you climb over boulders and across a footbridge over Marais Creek. Although it's short, take your time and explore the rock formations and discover a few hidden waterfalls.

The orange-blazed Burnham Trail takes visitors along the northern boundary of the preserve through an abandoned rock quarry and along a rustic boardwalk over seasonal vernal pools and wetlands. The sounds of frogs jumping in the water can be heard as you gingerly navigate the wooden planks. The Laurel Ridge Trail takes visitors through mountain laurel groves and along a neat series of stone steps to the top of a hill.

Take Route 81 to Hurd Bridge Road; a left on Glenwood Road; a right on Brickyard Road; and a left on Valley Road. Maps (highly advised) are available at http://www.clintonlandtrust.org and scrolling down to "trail maps" on the left side of the page.

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