Places to Explore in 2022
Welcome to 2022. A brand new 12 months and four seasons stretching out before us, providing new outdoor experiences and places to explore.
Today we’ll explore my list of interesting locations in The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor I have yet to explore, as well as places I am excited to return to. You might find them on a list of hikes offered up during TLGV’s Spring Outdoors (From Vernal Equinox to Summer Solstice) or perhaps they’ll be on our list of Walktober walks for the fall season. Whether part of an organized hike, or my solo adventures, here is my outdoor bucket list for the coming year.
Quinebaug Trail – Pachaug State Forest
Over the years I’ve tried to hike all the blue-blazed trails within The Last Green Valley towns. Organized by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, the blue-blazed trail system is a hiking resource of significant value to our region. The trails are maintained by a team of trail stewards, and CFPA’s Walk Book along with their interactive online trail maps are a helpful guide to all the blue-blazed trails throughout Connecticut.
The blue-blazed trail on my bucket list for 2022 is the Quinebaug Trail located within the Pachaug State Forest, our largest state forest in Connecticut and an unspoiled landscape with more than 26,000 acres of forest lands. Along with the Quinebaug Trail, there are other blue-blazed trails traversing Pachaug State Forest, including the Nehantic (12.8 miles), Narragansett (15.2 miles), and Pachaug (25.10. miles). The Quinebaug is only 8.2 miles long and looks perfect for a nice day hike.
Opacum Woods in Sturbridge
The Opacum Land Trust operates in several of the Massachusetts towns of the National Heritage Corridor, including Southbridge, Sturbridge, and Brimfield. I have hiked several of their land trust properties, but there is one I want to explore more extensively – Opacum Woods in Sturbridge.
I visited this property last year, but only hiked a very small section of it while looking for possible locations for a TLGV letterbox. With 266 acres and 4 miles of hiking trails, I know there is much to see. Opacum Woods has interesting features including a huge glacial erratic, rock shelter, vernal pool, large beaver pond and a grove of beautiful white pines. Information on the property can be found at: https://www.opacumlt.org/properties/opacum-woods
Brimfield State Forest and Bluff Point in Groton
Along with new outdoor hiking locations to discover in 2022, I plan on returning to places I explored in 2021, one in the northwestern corner of the heritage corridor — Brimfield State Forest — and the other just outside the southern end of the heritage corridor, but with an ocean view — Bluff Point in Groton.
I visited Brimfield State Forest a few decades ago but had not hiked the forest until last year when I joined TLGV’s Kyle Gregoire for a 2-mile loop hike there to helps scout the trails for the Walktober 2021 hike he was planning. At more than 3,500 acres, the forest has plenty of room to roam its extensive trail network. We hiked through mixed deciduous and conifer forestlands and around beautiful Woodman Pond. Information on the state forest can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/locations/brimfield-state-forest
A few weeks back my wife and I visited Bluff Point State Park in Groton for the first time. We downloaded the site map from the state website and decided on the 3.5-mile gravel road loop trail that cuts the length of the preserve to Bluff Point. We also checked out the smaller shoreline trails with beautiful views of Long Island Sound.
The amenities at the park are very good with toilet facilities and picnic areas throughout the park. The land is covered in mostly oak forest with some large exceptional and very photogenic specimens.
One of the more interesting features at Bluff Point is the stone foundation to a house built by John Winthrop, Jr. in 1748. Winthrop Jr. was elected Governor of Connecticut Colony in 1657 and Deputy Governor in 1658. He was again elected Governor in 1659, after the repeal of the one-term rule, and served until his death in 1676. We had a great visit there and plan on returning again during the warm months, bringing a picnic lunch and spending the day exploring Bluff Point in Groton. Information on Bluff Point can be found at: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Parks/Bluff-Point-State-Park
I am always looking for new places to experience the outdoors and suggest these four outdoor locations for your consideration when you are planning your own adventuress this year. Next week I’ll share with you a few cultural sites with interesting local histories that help to bring meaning and breadth to our region’s history.
We live in an amazing place called The Last Green Valley. Our region has many beautiful locations for exploring the outdoors as well as places to encounter our interesting historical past. I hope you’ll join me and others as we care for them, enjoy them, and pass them on.
Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and can be reached at 860-774-3300 and email@example.com.
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