TRAIL WOOD: TEALE MEMORIAL SANCTUARY
Small in size, but large in promise, Trail Wood in Hampton has the very elements most hikers look for. The vast trail system in this 168-acre property mixes a little bit of history with natural wonder.
The Connecticut Audubon Society runs the Edwin Way Teale Memorial Sanctuary, the site of the Pulitzer-prize author and naturalist’s former home. The land offered much inspiration to his writings. And for the ultra-curious, a small museum and Teale’s writing cabin are open to the public by appointment.
Resident naturalists serve as caretakers here and offer guided walks, but I decided a different tact and set off on my own.
I began my trek at the parking lot off Kenyon Road and already my senses were on overdrive with so much to see. Several trails are scattered every-which-way across the property. I mapped out my hike as a large figure eight – so I could hit as many highlights as possible on the journey.
I headed up the trail toward Monument Pasture where a small, stone structure sits in the field. It’s a quaint place that allows for moments of contemplation or just a spot to take in the view.
Moving through the area, I came across a small, icy brook – negotiating my steps along with my dog Sampson. The task was simple enough and I quickly made my way to the gentle pastures and meadows where the cabin and museum sit.
The sight is lovely to see and rich in species of birds – some 88 in all have been identified on the property. And although not as prominent as in winter, abundant wildlife still abounds.
We caught a glimpse of two deer foraging by the tree line, at first, unaware of our presence. But, once we moved, these graceful animals were on full alert and bounded through the woods before disappearing.
We also continued our journey through the woods heading past swampy pockets of land as we traveled. A mature eastern forest reigns supreme here – the grove steeped in the sounds of woodland life as we headed further north.
The options for hikers on this land are great too. Some can choose to continue north crossing yet another brook or head west to join up with the Airline Trail. I shifted east to view the three-acre beaver pond that dominates this part of the woods.
Beaver activity is evident here. You can easily see it with the gnawed remains of downed trees and a huge dam that sits in the middle of the pond. The pond is iced over and stark among the naked trees. It felt so still until loud, booming sounds began to emerge from the pond.
I’ve heard such sounds before in the heart of winter and can only attribute them to the ever-shifting shifting ice. Whatever it may be, they are frequent and haunting.
Turning south again, I kept my focus on the trail and once again crossed through the pasture - following a beautiful stone wall that leads back to the homestead and a small pond just a few steps away.
The walls are a subtle reminder of days long past and a true signal of our New England, pastoral history. And just another addition to this wildly varied and complex landscape.
I can easily see how the author drew much inspiration here – one that goes way beyond the reaches of his front door.
Directions: Take CT-66 East toward Willimantic/Marlborough. Continue straight onto US-6 East. Turn right to stay on UC-6 East. Turn left onto W Old Rte 6. Turn left onto CT-97 N. Turn left onto Kenyon Rd. Parking is about a half mile on the left.
Trail Distance: 1.5 miles
Trail Difficulty: Easy