Simsbury Land Trust Trails

Simsbury Land Trust Trails
Simsbury (duh)

I can point directly to the SLT as the sole reason I decided one day to expand my hiking horizons past the CFPA trails. Heck, I can point to the exact date, time and place it happened. October 12, 2008, late morning on the Cathles Trail in northwest Simsbury. I can’t remember why, exactly, I decided to check that trail out that day, but it was during two days of intense McLean Game Refuge hiking (which are CFPA trails and which you can check out here.) and I was probably looking for a back way onto some of their most southern trails. I incorrectly assumed that the Cathles Trail would connect me to the Game Refuge and provide me with a little connector trail to get to the “real” McLean trails. (See more on this below.)

But on my truncated little Cathles hike, I was blown away by some of the views east across the Farmington River Valley. I’d been on the ridges on the other side of the valley a billion times, but this was unique to me. The trail was well-marked, well-maintained and even a bit challenging. Later, I included a little bit about my tiny SLT experience in the McLean write-up. As a result, I received a nice note from the SLT and an offer to send me their Walk Book.

Wow! I had no idea that these “little” land trusts could be so organized and professional. Their Walk Book is excellent – full of history, geology, biology and of course, trail maps. Their website is even better – and you know what’s awesome? You can download the Walk Book there yourselves . Yup, back then I knew I was going to hike all the SLT trails (pretty much) someday. It wasn’t until late 2011 though that I really started seeking out similar organizations across the state to find they run the gamut from great with excellent trail guides (Simsbury and Branford to name a couple) to mediocre to “they just want me to get lost so they can eat my entrails.”

The excellent SLT website (which doesn’t match up exactly with the Walk Book, but that’s to be expected. I’ve combined the trails I can ascertain are really trails from the two.)

The Western Highlands

(Link to) the McLean Game Refuge Trails
Hedgehog/Westledge/Master’s School Trails
The Cathles Trail
Onion Mountain Park


Bog Walk
Nod Brook
Riverwalk Nature Trail

Sand Plain Forests

Great Pond State Forest
Wagner Woods
Stratton Brook State Park
Still Brook Open Space
Town Forest
Ethel Walker School Trails
Belden Forest
Simsbury Farms Family Fitness Trails
Hall/Pharos Farms

The Terry’s Plain Area

Colonial Traineband Field (Wegner Property) & Case Property/Wet Meadow
The Ketchin Quarry

Eastern Ridge

(Link to) Metacomet Trail’s Simsbury Section 1 & Section 2
(Link to) Penwood State Park
(Link to) Talcott Mountain State Park
Tanager Hill/Ellsworth Property

Short Walks

Owens Brook Trail
Rosedale Farm
Farmington River/Tarriffville Walk
Tulmeadow Farm

[Some notes: Over the last few years I’ve become friends – real and virtual – with many people from the CFPA, the SLT and the hiking community at large. I wondered on this site why in the world the McLean Trails don’t connect to the SLT trails at all, despite it being so simple and sensible to do so. Anyone can easily make the connection with a short bushwhack but we just aren’t supposed to. I’ve received a few comments from the SLT regarding this which have pretty much just reiterated that it will never happen because McLean doesn’t want it to happen. McLean has been silent – not that I’ve ever explicitly asked them – but I came up with my own explanation: McLean is an old and historic property in Granby with many unique game refuge rules set forth by Governor McLean many years ago. One of those rules was “Don’t alter this land beyond what I’ve done EVER.” I get that. McLean is also a National Natural Landmark - a rather cool little list that yes, I’m completing too - which may also preclude further trail development. Again, I can respect that.

The thing about this is that over the years since I first questioned this on CTMQ, I’ve received dozens of fellow hikers asking me about this divide. It’s nice to know I’m not alone on this one – The West Simsbury, West Granby, north Canton and Barkhamsted natural areas are beautiful, remote and arguably some of the best hiking in the state. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a network/patchwork of trails that connected it all somehow?

Yes. Yes it would. I’ve heard rumors over the years that this may actually happen via a possibly proposed CFPA east/west trail connecting the Metacomet in Granby west across the state to who knows? The Appalachian Trail in Salisbury? The Mohawk Trail out there? I don’t know – but I do know that this McLean issue is one of the biggest monkey wrenches to that idea and will force this mythical trail south to the SLT trails and road walks – and that kind of stinks. But the idea of a trail linking the Metacomet to the Tunxis in Barkhamsted and then continuing west through the wilds of Harland and Colebrook and Norfolk and beyond is super exciting to me. Especially since I believe it will take in Enders Forest too.

This is no longer a rumor but a confirmed fact! And as of September 2013, it’s “90% done” according to my sources. I’ve even seen a map of the whole thing! I know where it’s to come off the Metacomet, down to the floodplain, cross the Drake Hill Bridge, and wend its way through Simsbury and up to Enders before shooting west to the Barkhamsted Reservoir. Very exciting. And yes, still annoying it can’t touch McLean.

I’ve said too much. Let’s get hiking.]

4 responses to “Simsbury Land Trust Trails”

  1. roofing guy says:

    I should really check it out, my fiance wants to go hiking more.

  2. Max Burger says:

    Hi, I’m Max Burger. I’m in Troop 76 of Simsbury, and I am really interested in proposing my Eagle Scout Project to you folks at the Simsbury Land Trust. I need funding and approval for building 3 picnic tables at the end of the Owen Mortimer Property where Connor Barnett and David Melvin did their eagle projects. We will need to set up a time for me to present my project to your organization and I will also need assistance carrying the tables up the trail. I will need supervision with the building process of the tables themselves as well. Thank you very much.

  3. Max Burger says:

    I WILL NOT do my eagle project for the Simsbury Land Trust. I realized that organization really doesn’t need anything else to be done. I found somewhere else to do my eagle project.

  4. Steve says:

    Thanks, Max Burger.

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