Small in size but packed with potential, Forever Forest in Harwinton offers hikers of all ages a chance to explore the outdoors with ease.
This 12-acre swath of land owned by the Harwinton Land Trust since 1992 sits off of Whetstone Rd. Visitors can pull off onto the small gravel parking area on the shoulder of the road – where a large sign greets hikers.
The trail system consists of a few different routes. The white trail serves as the main path into the forest. This begins easily enough with crushed stone paving the way of this well-kept trail. The stone path turns to dirt fairly quickly, but it's no problem following this trail with ease.
On my hike, I was struck with how well-defined this trail system is. Signage is plentiful and easy to track. And the trail – although hilly in parts – is easy to maneuver and accommodating for both dog walkers and families with young children.
There is also a vast network of markers identifying the 26 species of trees present in the forest.
That diversity includes species such as American chestnut, Norway spruce and white ash. The markers are detailed and well worth the effort to check out.
As I continued on the trail, I also took the time to explore its off-shoots. Short, red-marked trails lead to the tops of rock promontories. These offered me great vantage points of the surrounding woods. The ledges also gave me an excellent view of its marshes.
Returning to the white trail, I eventually crossed a small footbridge over a bubbling stream. According to the trust's website, the flat sand stone rocks here are most likely the type once used to make whetstones. The manufacture of whetstones – used to sharpen knives -- has a history in this area.
Making my way deeper into the woods, the trail loops around and allowed me a closer look at the large marsh. It's wonderfully quiet here, with only the chirps of dozens of perched birds breaking the silence.
After a moment's pause, I circled back on the trail making my way back over the bridge. Tucked into the underbrush, I noticed the rusted, metal skeleton of what looked to be farm equipment – a neat little footnote to this particular hike.
I left it undisturbed and continued my journey taking the yellow trail on my way back to the car. This particular trek is a bit flatter than what I experienced on the main trail. The path also runs alongside a stone wall that marks the property's boundary here.
After a short distance, the trail reconnects with the white path and returns back to the trailhead – wrapping up a pleasant hike that taught me more about my surroundings than when I first began.
Directions: Take Route 4 to Route 118. Take 3rd left onto Whetstone Rd. Parking is on the right.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: 1 mile