WALLINGFORD — Winter weather has finally arrived in Connecticut, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. A walk in the woods, even with a little snow on the ground, can help to clear the mind and drive some of the winter blues away.
A great place for a short walk is Shookies Pond in Wallingford. This 9-acre property owned by the Wallingford Land Trust offers a short, easy trail for walking. My round trip was about six-tenths-of-a-mile. A map of the walk can be found at http://www.wallingfordlandtrust.org.
With school out for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I parked at Pond Hill School. Alternatively there is on-street parking on Roxbury Lane off Pond Hill Road.
The trail started next to the train tracks at the metal gate. Signs on the trailhead kiosk had faded and were unreadable.
The main trail follows an old access road with train tracks to my left and a small grove of mountain laurel to the right. The path looked as if it was mowed at the end of fall to keep the brush down. Wallingford Land Trust white diamond markers show the way along the trail.
Only two days after the first snow of the season, there were fresh footprints on the trail. It looked like someone took their dog for a walk. I also saw fresh deer tracks in the snow throughout the area.
A few hundred feet into the trail, it dips down to cross the stream coming from Shookies Pond. There is an old stone culvert probably built a long time ago under the train tracks.
Just up the trail from the culvert, Shookies Pond came into view.
It’s a small pond that probably supports some fine amphibian life. I took a few steps closer to the pond and unexpectedly two large sets of ripples appeared in the center of the pond. I never saw what creature created them. They were too big to be just from drops of water from trees and I saw no birds around, so it must have been something in the pond.
The trail continues and makes a neat little loop through the woods next to The Tradition golf course. It rejoins the access road for the easy trek back to the main gate.
I always find that a walk in the woods clears the mind and promotes what I’d like to call trail philosophy. As the New Year is here, I thought about New Year’s resolutions and how I’d like to see more people enjoy the outdoors.
Working out is good, but treadmills are boring. They don’t offer the beautiful surroundings Mother Nature provides. Add hiking as an activity to your New Year fitness resolution.
If your New Year’s resolutions involve becoming more involved in your community, consider joining a local land conservation trust, open space coordinators, or trails association.
If you are new to hiking or other outdoor recreational activities, many of these organizations offer hikes led by their members that are open to non-members. Find a group hike; enjoy the company and the woods.
Shookies Pond is a small but fine example of the good work of local land conservation trusts. Put on some good warm clothes and don’t be afraid to walk in the woods this winter. Mother Nature is hard at work in all the seasons.
Christopher Zajac can be contacted at theCTexplorer@gmail.com.