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.
CAMPBELL CONSERVATION AREA
Tolland is one of those places I’ve always enjoyed visiting – partly because of its old village feel and partly for its connection to the outdoors.
There are so many little nooks and crannies to explore, it’s hard to decide where to begin. But, one did spot did catch my eye– a 70-acre parcel known as the Campbell Conservation Area.
The former farm turned preserve showcases a mix of lowlands, marsh and an exposed ridgeline that offers lofty views of the Connecticut Valley and Mt. Tom.
The path to get there isn’t especially long – but it is a bit challenging. The yellow-blazed trail is the one to follow – and it starts out easily enough. But, within a few minutes it begins its steady, uphill trek to the ledge which is a remnant of a historic fault line.
Take care where you step, parts of the trail are steep and precarious, but it is worth the extra effort to get to the top.
Once off the rock face, I dove deeper into the property’s more wooded element. A blue-blazed path through acres of woodland landscape are home to deer, bobcats, and bears. I didn’t have any run-ins on this clear and mild morning – but the bustle of smaller wildlife among the leaf litter and tree tops was still apparent.
Continuing on the blue, visitors will find themselves crossing a small brook and traipsing along the top of the high ridge. While, a hop on the red trail offers hikers a different view altogether.
The path opens up to a large meadow that captures a setting that is quintessential New England. Known as “Peaceful Valley”, it gives rise to a pastoral setting that goes hand in hand with Connecticut’s farming history.
Birdhouses supplied by area Eagle Scouts offer the finishing touch here. But, be aware, the houses were made for bluebird populations as part of an ongoing research project, so be sure to watch from afar.
That’s okay because a visit to this part of Connecticut is truly as peaceful as it says it is.
Directions: Take I-84 E to Exit 67. Take left onto Reservoir Rd. Turn right onto CT-30 N. Merge onto CT-74 E. Turn left onto CT-30 N. Turn right onto Hunter Rd. Parking is at the lot on Hunter Rd.
Trail Distance: 2 miles
Trail Difficulty: Easy to Moderate