Hiking The Wilds Of Sherman And The Appalachian Trail

Peter Marteka
Contact ReporterNature's Path & Way To Go

I have to be honest, I never knew there was a Sherman, Conn. I also never heard of the Naromi Land Trust. But after a visit to the trust’s Herrick Preserve, I will be a more frequent guest to the small northwest Connecticut town shaped like a triangle.

Herrick Preserve is a well-kept secret. Just off a country road so narrow at times you think it is one-way, the preserve has two spectacular overlooks and access to the 2,175-mile-long Appalachian Trail as it begins its brief 52-mile twist and turn through the state.

But this is no shortcut to the AT. Herrick Preserve can stand on its own as visitors follow the well-blazed and immaculate trails to Amy’s Overlook or Housatonic Overlook past stone walls, large rock formations and under huge trees.

The preserve was created in 1979 when the land was purchased by the trust and the National Park Service in an effort to relocate the AT into Connecticut instead of traveling along a highway in New York. The NPS also wanted to reroute the trail away from Kent School, which objected to having hikers camping on their land. The Sherman land was owned by the Nalanda Corporation, which had a religious site for Buddhists.

Richard Donohue, president of the trust at the time, called the land “rare and unusual and totally unspoiled.” The name of the trust is short for Naromiyocknowhusunkatankshunk, a Native American Indian name meaning “fishing place in the gravelly stream near the big hill” or “water flowing from the hills,” according to the Connecticut Historical Society. The trust, created in 1968, is one of the state’s oldest and protects 2,000 acres in the small town.

The views are the highlights of the preserve, with Amy’s Overlook about a mile from the parking area showcasing the hills of New Milford and north into Kent. The lone man-made interruption is a silo in the distance. The view is framed by huge evergreens along the overlook.

The Housatonic Overlook — 1.25 miles from the parking area — showcases the Housatonic River as it flows below. The same silo, along with transmission lines, interrupts the view, but other than that it is endless forests and hills along with the river’s rocky banks.

At the northern end of the preserve — 1.6 miles from the parking area — is the AT. As one reaches the junction, looking left — the journey to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Looking to the right — Mount Katahdin in Maine. But if you just want to brag you hiked the AT, follow the trail toward Maine down to the banks of the Housatonic.

The trail travels down a series of stone steps to the banks of the scenic Tenmile River near its confluence with the Housatonic. The ​​​​​​Ned Anderson Memorial Bridge takes AT hikers across the Tenmile River just west of the Housatonic. A bronze plaque marks Anderson’s legacy.

“Dedicated to the memory of the Sherman farmer,” it reads, “and self-taught naturalist who with the Sherman Boy Scouts and the enthusiastic help of many others blazed and maintained the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut between 1929 and 1948.”

There are nice spots along the banks of the river for a picnic or respite before the arduous and demanding climb back up to Herrick Preserve. But it is well worth the effort for the river views and telling the grandkids you hiked the AT. You just don’t have to tell them how far you went (it’s less than a mile).

Sherman’s “claim-to-fame” was that is was named after Roger Sherman, the only person to sign all of this fledgling country’s most important documents — the Continental Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and U.S. Constitution. But a place called Herrick Preserve may help boost this little town’s fame a bit.

Visit www.naromi.org for a map of the preserve and Appalachian Trail to the memorial bridge. Take Route 7 to Route 55 into Sherman and follow for several miles. Turn right on Evans Hill Road and look for the parking area about a half-mile on the left.

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