Autumn in The Last Green Valley Filled with Adventure

Autumn in The Last Green Valley Filled with Adventure

Last night, at exactly 9:45 p.m., the seasons turned with the autumnal equinox. Today is the first day of fall, the best time of year to experience New England and, certainly, a big reason why we love living here in The Last Green Valley.

With fall comes a crispness to the air, a multi-colored coat of red, yellow and orange donning the trees, pumpkins, apples and the bounty of the seasonal harvest.

In The Last Green Valley, autumn means one thing – Walktober. This year, we have more than 200 unique walks and experiences, with repeats bringing almost 300 opportunities to explore our beautiful region. From hikes, walks and paddles to events and tours, you can fill the season with adventures.

To experience all the season has to offer, you’ll want to get the 2018 Walktober brochure listing all the events at several locations throughout the 35-town Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. Check your local library, town hall or one of the many information kiosks in the region to obtain a copy. You can also visit TLGV’s website www.thelastgreenvalley.org to download the full brochure.

If you can’t find a brochure in your community, call (860) 774-3300 and we’ll drop one in the mail to you. Updates, additions and cancellations will be posted on the Walktober section of TLGV’s website and on our Facebook page, so check them on a regular basis.

Here are some walks and events happening in the next few weeks that piqued my interest. I’ll provide another update in a couple of weeks.

-Today is Founders Day at Ayer Farm in Franklin from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everyone is invited to help celebrate Franklin’s 300th anniversary at Ayer Farm, one of Connecticut’s oldest family farms. There will be live music, food and historical and artistic presentations along with interesting artifacts. This event will be fun for the whole family at 44 Ayer Road, North Franklin. Look for balloons marking the parking area.

-Sept. 29 at 10 a.m., might I suggest a walk at the Sprague Preserve to view several beaver dams built by nature’s amazing engineers. The hike goes along a stream where the beavers have built five dams, then up two hills before coming down on the other side of the stream. The walk is less than two miles, and, hopefully, you’ll get a chance to see the local beavers. The parking area for the Sprague Preserve is on Holton Road in Franklin.

-On Sept. 30 you might enjoy a one-mile walk in Yantic to discover the historic Grace Episcopal Church of Yantic, considered one of the handsomest copies of a rural English church in all of New England. Built in 1902, the interior contains examples of English stained glass, oak carvings, a manual 1908 hall pipe organ and four large bells.

-For those hearty souls interested in a more rigorous hike, you may consider the Breakneck Pond Loop Hike on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. TLGV Ranger and board member Janet Blanchette has led this hike for the past few years and it is fantastic. You’ll hike along the Nipmuck and Breakneck Pond View trails in Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck State Forest. You’ll need to bring a lunch to enjoy near the pond. The walk is physically challenging due to the length and rough terrain. Park in the lot at the north end of Bigelow Hollow Pond at Bigelow Hollow State Park. Call (860) 923-2920 if you have any questions.

-Norwich is full of history – both above and below ground. On Oct. 6 from 10:30 a.m. to noon you can enjoy a fascinating walk through the Colonial Burial Grounds in Norwichtown with historian Dave Oat. Here you will see a variety of hand-cut Colonial tombstones and discover what they can tell us about early life in Colonial Norwich. This walk is sponsored by the Norwich Historical Society.

-History can be found lining our towns, forests and roads, and you can learn all about our region’s stone walls Oct. 7 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Mansfield. The walk is led by stone wall expert Robert Thorson, who wrote the children’s book “Stone Wall Secrets” with his wife. This walk is particularly for families to explore the landscape of Whetten Woods in Mansfield. It is sponsored by Joshua’s Trust and is located at Sherwood Street–Clubhouse–Mansfield Town Trail. Park at the Town Garage. Call (860) 617-3308 for questions.

-Children enjoy visiting farms to see the farm animals and, on Oct. 7, Fairholm Farm, 72 Chandler Road, Woodstock, is hosting Family-Run Dairy Farming in the 21st Century from 1-3 p.m. You’ll tour a modern family dairy farm that has been milking cows for 98 years. Visit the updated calf-raising facility, see the crops, walk the fields and learn how they care for their animals. They even have a new robotic milking system. Come and learn more about the dairy industry and where our food comes from.

These are just some examples of how Walktober shares the history, trails, forests, fields and farms of The Last Green Valley. Adventures await you, and I hope you’ll join us and the hundreds of volunteers and organizations that make Walktober possible. Join us and help us care for, enjoy and pass on this special place called The Last Green Valley.

Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.

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