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.
Simsbury is a town with so much hiking potential some may find it hard to choose. Of course, most think of the iconic Heublein Tower that sits atop Talcott Mountain. And although it is a great hike that many of us have taken before, I wanted to pursue a path less traveled.
In comes Wagner Woods – a property managed by the Simsbury Land Trust. It sits off Great Pond Road and exemplifies a rich diversity of wetlands, forest and vernal pools.
In its former life, the property was home to a farm. Hints of that tradition are found throughout the area with numerous stone walls and the remnants of a building foundation near the large hay field.
There are about a mile and a half of trails here – each bisecting a unique section of land. I, along with my friend Jill, tackled a couple of them starting with the red trail. The path cuts right through the preserve’s center – sending hikers into an open hay field.
Dozens of bird species call this wide expanse home. Bird boxes are scattered about and at peak season are said to attract large numbers of bluebirds. Like so many of Connecticut’s protected places, stone walls also pepper the property in a throwback to its days as a working farm.
On the edge of the field, the trail splits into different directions – with the yellow trail heading west and the orange continuing south – the route we decided to follow.
It, too, is a footprint to the land’s rich history once acting as a makeshift road for wagons to get by. Within moments, the path brought us to a small overlook – a pretty spot to catch a view of the flowing waters of Hop Brook.
After our quick stop, we backtracked to the crossroads to loop around the yellow trail. It took us through a forest of oaks, maples and pines that cover a good portion of the property. Continuing on the blue trail will bring you deeper into the grove while a return on the red brought us closer to ‘home’.
It offered us yet another glimpse from the field’s perimeter pinned against a wispy, morning sky. The view may not be that of a grand mountain top or a sweeping view of the ocean – but, spots like this, do have their place – as a subtle reminder – a tiny snapshot, so to speak, of our protected past and future promise.
Directions: Take I-91 N. Take exit 35-35B for CT 218 toward Windsor/Bloomfield. Turn left onto CT-218 W for close to four miles. Turn right onto CT-189 N. Turn left onto Gabb Rd. Take slight left onto CT-178 W. Turn right onto CT-185 W for a little more than two miles. Take a slight right onto E Weatogue St. Turn left onto Riverside Rd. Turn left onto Drake Hill Rd. Turn left onto Hopmeadow St. turn right onto West St. Turn right at the first cross street onto Firetown Rd. Slight left onto Great Pond Rd. Parking is on the left.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: 1.5 miles