Where are some less-known walking trails?
The original town park plan, developed in 1963, wisely protected open spaces, including the Town Forest—Wilton’s largest and most rugged park. Today, residents can hike, bike, stroll, and ride horseback along a web of trails traversing brooks and streams, hemlock and hardwood groves, and wildflower fields. Among the 23 properties comprising Wilton’s 1,250 acres of open space, the Belknap Preserve and the Harrison Smith Preserve offer particularly delightful retreats into nature.
Open pastures, lush wetlands, rolling forests, and the Mayapple Brook Valley comprise Belknap Preserve: 35 acres of open woodlands on the corner of Wampum Hill and Honey Hill Roads. Trek through old fields in different stages of forest succession and among hickory, sassafras, and an impressive stand of “wolf” trees. Tall grasses sway lazily in sunny meadows, providing a habitat for birds. A network of remarkable stone walls dating back to the 1800s offer an insightful glimpse into Wilton’s early agricultural beginnings and rich natural history.
A walk in the Marble/Van Haelewyn-Richards Preserve is equal parts active recreation and spiritual refreshment. The major trailhead begins at Abbott Lane and wanders across diverse terrain. Flat flood plains and swamps merge with steep slopes, cliffs, and rocky crests. The trail crosses a small footbridge over Huckleberry Hills Brook, leading to a promontory overlooking a red maple swamp. The 45-acre park boasts an impressive array of vegetation, including red, white, and black oaks; tulip trees; and shagbark hickories. Ferns abound, lending a magical feel to the place.