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.
Great Pond Reserve
Seventy acres of solitude greet hikers in a little corner of Glastonbury – an oasis of sorts generated by a 12-acre glacial pond. It’s the sort of thing that’s a bit unexpected within the boundaries of a suburban neighborhood. But, nonetheless, a bonus for anyone looking to connect with the outdoors.
Parking on the side of the road, I spotted the sign and followed the narrow dirt path into the woods. Right away the trees engulfed me, standing tall and barely budding on this early spring morning.
The preserve offers a handful of trails to explore. But, the main one, blazed in blue, brings visitors to the ageless pond.
At first, I could hear the trickle of the small brook on my right making its way deeper into the woods. Its slow movements are a subtle sign of the recent dry spell we’ve been having, another marker - the crunching leaves I found underfoot.
But, no matter. The vegetation around the pond is especially adapted to conditions of drought and heavy rains – qualities that are attractive to the fauna and flora here.
The best spot to check out the Great Pond is on a well-built viewing platform at the end of the trail. But before reaching it, you’ll cross a wooden bridge and pass what is said to be the largest red cedar tree in New England. The tree measures about 10 feet at its circumference and is 150 years old – a true guardian of these woods.
Making it to the platform, I took a moment to rest on the bench and drink in the stillness of the pond.
Hardly a whisper could be heard from the ducks and other waterfowl lazily floating by. And, I can imagine the view, as peaceful as it was, makes an additional impression at the height of summer and fall – when the foliage is truly at its best.
Finding myself at the end of the line, I began my journey back. Those with a little extra time to spare should consider a detour on yet another trail. Dana’s Rim Walk takes hikers to the top of the bluff and a view of the Connecticut River. And, yet another path, brings folks deeper into the woods and across a natural dam some 15,000 years old.
I sidetracked my own journey as well. The sight of a meadow peeking through the trees had me curious enough to check it out. The preserve’s Meadow Loop Trail is marked with flags and draws hikers into a wide open landscape. Impactful in its own way, the meadow was the added touch I needed to round out this great hike in the woods.
Directions: Take CT-17 S toward Portland. Continue onto CT-17 S/Glastonbury Expy. Turn right onto Great Pond Rd. Preserve is on the left. Park on the road.
Trail Distance: 1 mile
Trail Difficulty: Easy
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