Bull's Bridge River Walk
Four Mile Walk, Round Trip. Easy to Moderate one mile river walk has an easy rating; the one mile climb up Ten Mile Hill is moderate.
At the jct. of Rte. 341 and Rte. 7 in Kent, follow Rte. 7 south for three miles, take a right onto Bull's Bridge Road, cross the first bridge, go through the covered bridge, passing a parking area on the right. After crossing the third bridge, pull into the hiker parking area on the left. White blazes mark the entrance to the Appalachian Trail.
TRAIL DIRECTIONS The trail leading to Ten Mile Gorge and Hill is part of the Appalachian Trail and is marked by white blazes. Please, keep to the trails defined footway; travel in groups of ten or fewer, and carry out what you carry in. The entrance to Bull's Bridge Scenic Loop is between the covered bridge and the first parking area and is not blazed.
HIGHLIGHTS: A short forest path leads you to picture perfect views of Bull's Bridge, one of two covered bridges, still open to auto traffic in Connecticut. Hike high above the Housatonic River on the Appalachian Trail to Ten Mile Gorge, then onward to the summit of Ten Mile Hill and its' sweeping pastoral panorama of the rolling Litchfield Hills.
A short warm up stroll around Bull's Bridge Scenic Loop reveals dramatic views of gorges and waterfalls that swirl and tumble beneath the covered bridge.
Issac Bull built the first bridge here in 1760 to carry iron ore and charcoal across the river. The first five bridges built here were not covered. Over the years, one bridge replaced another as each was washed away by high water and ice. The original covered bridge was finished prior to 1811 and named after its builder, Jacob Bull. The bridge became an important link on the road between Newburg on the Hudson and Hartford. The bridge you see today was rebuilt in 1842.
During the Revolutionary War, Kent was well known for its strategic location on the marching road between Lebanon, the Continental supply depot and Washington's New York headquarters. Kent was far enough away from the Hudson area and the coast to provide safe provisioning posts, such as those at Bull's Bridge, yet close enough to bring up reserves in case of emergency. Bull's Bridge provided a critical link to the road known as the galloping highway because of the great speed that could be made on horseback between Newburg and Hartford.
Local history has documented that George Washington had an accident at Bull's Bridge in 1781. What has happened has never been told in detail, but one thing is clear; one of his horses, perhaps his own mount, fell in the raging Housatonic River. One exciting bit of confirmation regarding this incident appears in George Washington's own expense account for March 3, 1781. The first travel expense of the day noted: getting a horse out of Bull's Bridge Falls, $215.00. The size of the item indicates that it involved quite a rescue operation. It must have taken time and the General was on his way to make plans with the French for naval support of New York against the British. Any ordinary horse might have been allowed to stay in the river. So, it might be assumed that this was no ordinary horse, and perhaps it was Washington's own mount. Today, we can only wonder.
To begin your walk follow the white blazed footpath into the woods keeping the river on your left. Stroll on an elevated trail that winds its way through a forest of mixed hardwoods and hemlocks punctuated by a soft palette of colorful wildflowers that change with the seasons.
In 15 minutes, you will reach a fork in the trail, bear left, and continue following the white blazes. Walk along a narrow tree shaded path that wends its way above the Housatonic River, revealing a bird's eye view of boulder strewn rapids, tranquil still water and the abundant wildlife of this area.
Soon you will come to a bridge that provides a spectacular view of Ten Mile River Gorge where the waters of the Housatonic and Ten Mile River merge.
Cross the bridge and turn right, passing a camping area on the left. Continue following the white blazes along the river and back into the forest.
The trail turns to the left and begins a gradual ascent. Cross an old woods road and continue following the white blazes. The next .7 miles is a steep and steady ascent to the crest of Ten Mile Hill. The white blazes thread their way along a narrow path through a boulder strewn hemlock forest. The trail, twists and turns, left then right as you ascend.
At the intersection of the white and blue blazes, continue following the white blazes for ten minutes to the first crest of the hill. Continue your ascent following the white blazes to reach the dramatic westward view of the Litchfield Hills from Ten Mile Hill.
Retrace your steps, following the white blazes to the hiker parking area where this walk began. Parts of this trail can be tricky in inclement weather because of steep descending traverses.
Special Note: The Appalachian Trail follows the Housatonic River from Kent to Cornwall Bridge for 7.8 miles making it the longest river walk on the AT. Miles of fields, forests and meadows that look much the same as they did a century ago are highlights of this walk. Directions: At the jct. of Rte. 341 and Rte. 7 in Kent take Rte. 341 west; a right on Skiff Mountain Rd., follow for 1 mi., bear right at the fork to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, follow for 2.5 mi. to the parking area. The trail is marked with white blazes. The area closes at sunset.