In a little slice of Connecticut, a golfer’s playground has turned nature’s paradise. Where golfers once ‘played’ through Pistol Creek in Berlin, now, visitors wander the grounds using the old, paved paths as a guide.
The preserve is broken into two parts – North and South.
The southern portion crosses over into Middletown revealing some steep grades that leads to some pretty views. The northern trails have attractive views as well. But, these are completely enclosed within Berlin’s borders and offer an easier hike.
By the sight of all the cars in the parking lot, I could tell either option is a good one.
Even on this very brisk winter day, the preserve is a popular morning spot. And it’s easy to see why.
From the red, outer trail, the rolling hills and sand traps that once provided obstacles, now offer serene views dotted with the unfettered growth of trees and brush that are creeping slowly into the landscape.
The paved paths are also in good condition and a breeze to follow – great for kids to explore as well as for little dogs looking for adventure.
I did leave the main path for a bit to explore a side trail marked in blue that pops up along the way. It took me into the lightly wooded forest that resembles the hikes I normally encounter. This portion is slightly hilly and made slippery with the fallen leaves wet from the morning frost.
The short hike leads down to Spruce Brook where the subtle sound of the bubbling water is a welcome distraction. But the stream is small and the area a bit muddy. So, I turned back to continue my walk on paved ground.
There are choices to be made along these old golf cart roads as well. Instead of staying on the periphery, I took some of the winding paths into the heart of the one-time course and watched as fluttering blue jays and chickadees flew by.
I followed their journey as they buzzed over to yet another remnant of the course – a once-meticulously maintained water hazard. Now, it acts as a mini oasis for birds weaving in and out of the brush ….just as this old golf course acts as a haven for all those that visit.
Directions: Take I-91 S to exit 21 for CT-372 toward Cromwell/Berlin. Turn right onto CT-372 W/Berlin Rd. Turn left onto Main St. Turn right onto Spruce Brook Rd. In about ¾ of a mile, parking will be on the right.
Trail Distance: 1.5 miles
Trail Difficulty: Easy