Exploring the Hidden Life Inside a Simsbury Preserve - WFSB 3 Connecticut

The Trail Mix

Exploring the Hidden Life Inside a Simsbury Preserve

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Tanager Hill trail parallels ravine Tanager Hill trail parallels ravine
Lucy Brook winds around tiny island within the preserve Lucy Brook winds around tiny island within the preserve

Tanager Hill


Ok – before anybody says it – I know, I know – I was in Simsbury just a short time ago hiking an itty-bitty trail at Glover Park.  But, in the course of a week, I found myself in the area yet again.

And, with so many nooks and crannies to explore in this Connecticut town – why not?

Enter stage right - Tanager Hill – a magical preserve meticulously cared for by the folks at Simsbury Land Trust. 

The trails here snake through 75-acres of forest and includes a mix of wetlands, meadows, and a ravine. On top of that, there are 500 feet of elevation changes that includes an impressive trap rock ridge that is hard to pass up.

There’s a trailhead that actually shares its space with another land trust preserve - the Owen – Mortimer property and took this path to kick off my hike.

Signs at the trailhead alert visitors its bow hunting season. Although only a small number of hunters are allowed, hikers are asked to proceed with caution during the season which ends at the end of December.

Moving on, I made my way along the straightforward path that quickly splits into two. This, marks the point where the connector to the Tanager trek begins. 

Once on the property there are two main sections the path takes you. The upper portion moves through many of the habitats I mentioned before and serves as a corridor that connects the Farmington River floodplain to Penwood State Park.

The lower portion follows the course of Lucy Brook, winding its way past the ravine before its steady uphill climb into the preserve’s depths.

I took this latter trek and found it pretty relaxing as it allowed me to take my time and drink in the view. I quickly found that even the noise of nearby traffic doesn’t penetrate this space and the crisp crunch of ice is the only sound I heard as I made my way deeper into the grove.

Just be sure to grab your hikers before tackling the trails. Though pretty, the ice doesn’t provide you with much traction and a good pair of boots goes a long way to making this hike a safe one.

Most of the trails here are also unmarked. But, the paths are so wide and easy to follow that I never worried about getting lost. On top of that, well-placed kiosks also kept me on track.

And I’m glad of that since I split my attention largely between the beautiful surroundings around me and the slick ice at my feet. But, that the thin layer of snow and ice holds a fascinating story all its own.

It’s like a mystery unfolding at your feet. Dozens of animal prints crisscrossed the path before me. Some were easy to figure out (think deer or squirrel). But, there were signs of coyote and fox roaming these woods and in one case what appeared to be the steps of a bear.

Now, I haven’t seen a bear yet on any of my hikes. So, for me, this is the next best thing. But, who knows what I will find in the future…there’s a whole lot of Simsbury left to explore. 

Directions: Take I-91 N to exit 35A-35B for CT-218 toward Windsor/Bloomfield. Use any lane to turn left onto CT-218 W. Turn right onto CT-189 N. Turn left onto Gabb Rd. Turn left onto CT-178 W. Turn right onto CT-185 W. Slight right onto E Weatogue St. Go about 1.5 miles onto Terry’s Plain Rd. Parking is on the right.

Trail Distance: 1.5 miles

Trail Difficulty: Easy