Since childhood, my love of the outdoors has always been a part of me. And as an adult, I hope to share that passion with my own children.
So, I offered this challenge to my family, to join me in exploring the hidden treasures and more popular gems Connecticut and the surrounding region have to offer. From hiking to biking to kayaking, I hope my window into the outside world inspires you to explore as well.
A reflective hike in the woods with a scenic waterway to top off the journey – doesn’t get better than that, right? It seems many of the pristine places protected in Connecticut have a little of both and Banningwood Preserve in the Hadlyme section of Lyme is no exception.
This small 100-acre lot right off Rt. 82 offers the right mix of habitat for wildlife and visitors alike – and its potential ‘stillness’ is what drew me in.
Leaving from the parking lot, I took my dog Sampson onto the loop trail leading into the woods. Almost immediately, the narrow, dirt path carved a steep, uphill trek among the trees. The Lyme Land Conservation Trust took great care blazing this trail as seen by the well-placed red markers that are easy to spot. Just be sure to watch for thorny underbrush here that can grab onto your legs and clothes as you move by.
Looking into the woods, we came across some of the most dramatic rock outcroppings one can see. These monoliths seem to erupt from the ground - haphazardly covering the landscape. They are a prime example of the volatile history of New England some 300 million years ago with the collision of massive bodies of land – now known as North America and Africa.
Further along, we crossed a few, small streambeds dried up in the most recent string of hot weather before we came to a crossroads, where the yellow, brook trail meets up with the red. We took the turn, past a field, curious to glimpse the waters of Roaring Brook – for which this land preserves.
The brook is a main tributary that feeds Whalebone Cove – an important ecological system in its journey to the Connecticut River. Combined with a neighboring preserve in East Haddam, close to 2.5 miles of the waterway is now protected.
At first sight, Roaring Brook is more like ‘Quiet Brook’. Low from the lack of rain, stream rocks poke through the surface of the water as it lolls by. It is quite a picturesque and tranquil setting – the path keeping pace with the stream’s own twists and turns. It definitely has a hypnotic effect and I was happy to slow it down a bit just to enjoy the moment.
Pulling away from the brook, we crossed the outer edge of the field, and returned to the woods via the red trail again. After a short trip back to the lot, I chatted with another dog owner beginning his own morning jaunt. He also spoke of the stillness of this preserve – now protected and enjoyed by those who care enough to know how important places like this are.
Directions: Take CT-9 S to exit 7 for CT-82 toward E Haddam/Moodus. Follow CT-82 E past Gillette Castle and into Lyme. The preserve parking lot is on the left on CT-82/Town St.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: < 2 miles