Perfect for the hiker and devoted naturalist, White Memorial Foundation and Conservation Center is Connecticut's largest nature sanctuary that encompasses 4,000 acres and maintains 35 miles of trails that wind their way through a wide variety of habitats. Stroll along Bantam River and through a pine shaded forest to a 1.2 mile elevated wooden boardwalk which allows you to walk around Little Pond and through an enormous wetland area without getting your feet wet !
Visit the Nature Museum dedicated to displaying the flora, fauna and geographical features found throughout the Foundation.
Directions: Take Rte. 8 to exit 42 to Rte 118 west to Rte. 202 west in the center of Litchfield. From the Litchfield Green, follow Rte. 202 west for 2.4 miles to the entrance of White Memorial Foundation on the left. Take a left onto Bissell Rd., then an immediate right onto White Hall Rd., follow for .5 miles to the parking area near the Nature Museum.
Walking Time: 3 hours
Distance: 3.1 miles
TRAIL DIRECTIONS: Walk away from the parking area toward the Nature Museum on a gravel road. At the first intersection by the fieldstone pillars, take a left onto the blue blazed trail, cross the first road following the blue blazes. At the junction of the blue trail and the white and black square trail, take a right onto the white and black trail. Following the white and black trail, cross the dirt road and continue walking through the woods. Cross the paved road following the black & white trail to the Y in the trail, take a left and follow this path through a meadow to three boulders. Walk around the boulders, take your immediate right onto the elevated boardwalk and follow the white and black blazes around Little Pond. After looping around the boardwalk retrace your steps along the white and black trail to the blue trail and back to the Nature Museum where this walk began.
This trail and boardwalk is limited to foot travel only. No bicycles, horses or motor vehicles are allowed. All dogs must be kept on leashes. Please leave trees, shrubs and flowers as you find them, and carry out what you carry in. Trails are open at all times.
Begin your day with a tour of the newly expanded Nature Museum. A rewarding hour or two can be spent learning about the various habitats, flora, fauna and wildlife that you will see as you explore the trails maintained by the Foundation.
The diorama room is of special interest because of the displays of actual scenes found on the Foundation's grounds. The Museum's gift shop sells a comprehensive map of the Foundation's trails.
Take a right out of the Museum and walk down the gravel road. Most of the tree's along this road are large sugar maples interspersed with white pines, whose needles grow in bundles of five.
At the first intersection in the trail, by the stone pillars, take a left onto the blue blazed trail that follows the gentle flow of the Bantam River.
Cross the paved road, Bissell Rd., go through the gate and continue following the blue blazes on a beautiful pine shaded path. This area is called "Pine Island" and is depicted in the Center's diorama room.
Within five minutes, you will reach the junction of the blue trail and the white square with the black square center trail, take a right onto the white and black trail and follow it through the pine forest.
Cross a dirt road and continue following the white and black trail on a narrow woodland path that wends its way through a pine scented forest. When the white and black trail comes to a second paved road, Whites Wood Rd., cross the road, walk through the gate and continue following the white and black blazes back into the woods.
At the Y in the trail, bear left and continue following the white and black blazes past a meadow where conifers have been planted in the sandy soil to provide cover for wildlife. Walk around the three boulders blocking the trail, take your immediate right following the white and black blazes to the elevated boardwalk that will take you on an unforgettable wetland adventure.
Continuing on the Boardwalk, walk through a forest of cat-o-nine tails and phragmites at least ten feet high to Sutton Bridge, which arches artistically over Bantam River. Take a minute to enjoy the beautiful panorama of the river and the wetlands you will be exploring.
The Boardwalk wends its way through wetlands and woodlands that provide shelter for the areas wildlife.
Soon you cross a second bridge that traverses Bantam River. The Boardwalk continues to wend its way through verdant foliage interspersed with a colorful palette of wild flowers.
At the V in the trail the Boardwalk ends momentarily, bear left, taking a small dirt path that brings you back to the boardwalk on the way to Little Pond.
Wild Roses and Queen Anne's Lace, nature's bridal bower, punctuated by purple and yellow loosestrife and delicate forget-me-nots edge the summer Boardwalk. In the fall, swamp maples add brush strokes of red, scarlet and crimson to the landscape while waterfowl and summer birds begin their migration south. Winter's wonderland comes in endless shades of white and countless ice formations mixed with beaver and otter footprints. Spring's palette is magical with a medley of new green, new life and a profusion of colorful wildflowers that emblazon the Boardwalk.
Crossing a small bridge, continue your walk on the Boardwalk around Little Pond passing an intersection in the trail. As you reach the center of Little Pond, water is on either side of the Boardwalk giving you a close up view of the area and its wildlife. Look for beavers, swans, ducks, turtles, frogs, fish, songbirds, and water fowl. Bird activity is at its height in the early morning and then again in the late afternoon. In general, the best times for bird watching is from dawn to 8 a.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to dusk.
Continue following the white and black blazes around the Boardwalk and through the woods back to the intersection of the boulders where the Boardwalk began.
Retrace your steps along the white and black trail to the blue trail to the stone pillars, take a right onto the gravel road and head toward the Nature Museum where this walk began.
More Nature Centers to Explore: All Trails are open dawn to dusk.Flanders Nature Center, Flanders Rd (off Rte. 6) Woodbury, CT. Explore the Geology Trail or the Botany Trail that has been carefully maintained by the Pomperaug Valley Garden Club since 1964. Sharon Audubon Center, Rte. 4, Sharon, CT. The Center has several good trails to explore including the Lucy Harvey Trail, the Bog Meadow Trail with a wooden boardwalk and the Fern Trail. Barnes Nature Center, Shrub Rd. (off Rte. 69) Bristol, CT. This 70 acre preserve has a series of trails that take hikers through a variety of habitats. Sunny Valley Preserve, 8 Sunny Valley Lane, New Milford, CT. Farm and Nature Trail passes by pastures, hay and corn fields, woods and swamps.