Bright spot deep in the woods of Deep River hike - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Bright spot deep in the woods of Deep River hike

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Railroad that runs through preserve Railroad that runs through preserve
Greenery overtakes preserve's brook Greenery overtakes preserve's brook

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. 


Deep River - Essex

In a week where dreary, wet weather has put a damper on nearly everything, I came across a little bright spot to make it through. That spot….Canfield-Meadow Woods Nature Preserve.

It’s a heavily-wooded landscape that spans more than 300 acres across Deep River and Essex. My focus was on Canfield Woods in Deep River where the main trail begins easily enough from a small lot off busy Route 154.

Immediately, the trail led me and my dog, Sampson, into a lush, green forest bordering a residential neighborhood just yards away. But, with every small twist, the narrow path forged deeper into the woods leaving the sound of suburbia well behind.

Early on, hikers will come across some railroad tracks and begin seeing some of the dramatic, rocky outcrops that appear throughout the preserve. A large sampling of white spruce grows here, whereas, red maples are the main attraction in wetter areas.

Those wetlands are spread throughout the forest and include a small stream early on in the hike. With all the rain we’ve seen, I’m surprised the main trail was free of any major puddling and mud traps.  Good thing because as we made our way through the preserve the rain started to pour yet again.

The canopy of leaves provided little shelter. But, the constant pitter-patter of drops offered a soothing back beat to the sounds of birds and other wildlife rustling in the wood.

Rounding a bend along the trail, we came across one of several spots of interest marked on the preserve’s maps. This one, known as Split Rock, sits by the stream and appears as jutting shards tearing through the ground. It’s just one of many rock formations that give this land an other-worldly feel.

Soon enough, we came across a section known as The Gap and it felt like a good spot to loop around and try my hand at the Overlook Trail. Blazed in light-blue, the path climbs uphill in an easy fashion before culminating onto a rocky point. The tree tops prevent any distant views but, the spot does give hikers a neat perspective of the immediate landscape.

And, with the rhythm of the rain serving as back drop, it turns out this weary week doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Directions: Take Rt. 9 S to Exit 4 for CT-154/Middlesex Turnpike toward Centerbrook. Follow CT-154 N. Parking is on the right between the Essex town line and before Rattling Valley Road.

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Trail Distance: 1.5 miles