New Haven, CT: Devil's Den Preserve

Escape the crowds at the Nature Conservancy’s largest Connecticut preserve.
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Escape the crowds at the Nature Conservancy’s largest Connecticut preserve.

Devil’s Den, Fairfield County’s largest tract of undeveloped land, is packed with natural delights—rocky gorges, glistening ponds, historic relics, and, come spring, blooming pink lady slipper orchids. Sample them all on this easy 8-mile loop, starting on the Katharine Hill Trail. Turn left at post 4 and right at post 5, then head north along the river on the Saugatuck Trail. Join the Ambler Trail and scramble to Ambler Gorge, where rocky walls cradle a seasonal cascade. Take the Den Trail (post 44) to the Bedford Trail, then bear left on Deer Run Trail to scan for wild turkey and deer. Post 56 marks the start of two consecutive loops through oak-pine forest and marshland to views of the Saugatuck Reservoir. Close the loop and take the Dayton Trail south to the Godfrey Trail, passing the steam boiler and flywheel of a nineteenth-century sawmill on the way to Godfrey Pond. Head back on the Laurel Trail.
Info: (203) 226-4991; nature.org
Hike provided by Christopher and Catherine Brooks, authors of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: New York City (Menasha Ridge Press).

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Location: 41.2368850708008, -73.396125793457