Late Autumn Walks at the Mallory Trail and Colonial Park Nature Trail

This article originally appeared in the November 5th Edition of the Citizen News, a locally printed newspaper for Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut. It’s part of the Blue Skies and Sunny Days series.

IMG_1693Article and Photo by Alicia Sakal

Fresh crisp air with zero humidity, spectacular fall foliage of burnt reds, oranges and yellows, and no pesky gnats to be seen anywhere! I simply love autumn in all its mesmerizing glory and so does my family. Any chance we get, we are outside taking full advantage of these quickly fleeting days of mild warmth and sunshine before the winter season arrives.

To revel in the unusually tepid days we’ve been experiencing lately, my 5-year-old son and I like to spend time together exploring the wealth of Naromi Land Trust Trails and the Town of Sherman Trail after the Sherman School gets out for the day. With daylight hours clearly not on our side, we recently made a bold move and hiked on two of our favorite trails, back-to-back. Our first walk…

The Mallory Trail, Naromi Land Trust

What Kevin and I love about this short trail is that it’s a super-easy path, with only a few gradual hill inclines, making it ideal for most children and adults of all ages with different physical abilities to walk. For the “explorers” in us, the Mallory Trail is also a hands-on learning experience offering nine different areas to study notable tree varieties such as White Ash, Eastern Hemlock, and Sugar Maple.

We equally enjoyed the extra-long, wooden “zigzag” boardwalk that goes over a stream of glistening water, feeling a bit like we were “off to see the wizard”. The “old-fashioned” stone border walls are also a subject of great interest to my son because he wonders who built them and when. There’s nothing like hiking through the rustling fallen leaves that smell like “Musky Autumn” this time of year as well.

This particular excursion began at the access point behind Happy Rainbows and Sherman Wine and Spirits. Immediately, my son gravitated to all of the colorful handmade “Grateful for…” signs that top each brightly painted stick, and are scattered throughout the preserve’s entrance like wildflowers. The very first sign reads, “I am grateful for Naromi.” To our delight, we found that the Girl Scout Troup #40072 was quite busy creating The Girl Scout Gratitude Trail on the Mallory Trail.

My family and I knew about their efforts because we designed our own “Grateful for Family” sign at the Sherman Farm Day, but had no idea how extensive it would be. By far, “family” was the #1 thing participants are thankful for. Friends, health, food, and collectively pets of all kinds also made the Top 5 List. Of course, my son related well to his interests like being grateful for airplanes, farmers, firemen, and school. We stopped to read each sign so our “short” walk became a much longer walk, and well worth the effort. After we read the very last sign at the end of the path, we made a U-turn at the Sherman Historical Society property line.

These thankfulness signs, which align the Mallory Trail path from beginning to end, will remain up through the month of November, and will make for a perfect family excursion after eating a Thanksgiving dinner together. See them for yourself, and if you feel inspired, you can make your own thankfulness sign with the paper that’s available onsite. Our next walk of the day…

Colonial Park Nature Trail, Town of Sherman

The main reason why we come back to this trail over-and-over again is because it offers two long paths with several connecting “white” path options for variety.  We are the “Great Explorers” when hiking on the Colonial Park Nature Trail. The Red Trail is the easier one to walk on because the only fairly steep ascent is at the lakeside playground entrance near the Sherman Town Park. As a bonus, my son looks forward to relaxing and sitting on each of the three wood benches along the path, which are oh so inviting to tired little hikers. The Blue Trail, on the other hand, has a very long and steep incline which can be hard for smaller children to climb over the mountainside. My son can hike the Blue Trail but not without me holding his hand and guiding him uphill pretty much the entire way.

We typically start our walk by the lakeside town park entry using the “tree root” stairs near some “forever-and-ever-green” trees. On this back-to-back hiking day, we decided to change things up a bit, and began at Veteran’s Field – Colonial Park instead, which borders the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church property. Doing so, gave us a new perspective because we re-discovered manmade points of childhood interest such as the life-size “fallen man statue” that seems to be resting on the ground camouflaged forever, kind of “like Snow White” and looking more like Bacchus who drank too much wine to me, along with the forgotten stone fireplace of “ancient log cabin times”, and the outdoor brick barbeque pit relic with a mysterious name of “Hutton” clearly engraved on one of the bricks.

As for the more predictable curiosities, we love walking by the pond which “isn’t looking very green” as it once did over the summertime. Then, there are always the “chatty” black crows that hover over us in their nesting area, and sometimes we even spot an eagle. As for all the downed trees throughout the trail, well, Kevin certainly uses his imagination and has made-up quite the elaborate Indian-Beaver-Logger-Digger-Construction-Tornado story.

Whenever time is on our side, like on the weekends, we also enjoy extending the Colonial Park Nature Trail by walking through the town’s lakeside playground. After all, getting sidetracked is always an “adventure”…

Colonial Park Nature Trail Add-on Walks

The Candlewood Lake Authority’s Demonstration Buffer Garden on the lake is a nice diversion. This tranquil sanctuary is perfect for learning more about how buffer zones help to preserve water quality, provide a wildlife habitat, and minimize shoreline erosion.

After spending time at the buffer garden, we also typically walk through the Sherman Town Beach and take a leisurely stroll up and down the public docks, stopping often to appreciate the spectacular views on this Candlewood Lake inlet. Oh, how lucky and thankful we are to have an abundance of Sherman trails to explore in our town’s very own backyard.

Resources:

To learn more about Naromi Land Trust Trail, and to print maps that are available online, visit: http://www.naromi.org/

To learn more about the Candlewood Lake Authority, visit: http://www.candlewoodlakeauthority.org

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