Belknap Preserve

Wampum Hill Road, Wilton, Fairfield County, Connecticut

37 acres

from Wilton Land Conservation Trust http://www.wiltonlandtrust.org/Gregg_Belknap.htm


Directions:

From Wilton Center, take Route 7 north for 2.6 miles to Honey Hill Road on the right (east). Follow Honey Hill Road 0.7 miles to Wampum Hill Road. Turn right (south) and entrance is 200' south on the right.  Park along the road on the right. 


Trails:

Loop Trail 1.5 miles Blue.

Access Trails 0.6 miles Orange.

Cut-Across Trail 0.25 miles Yellow.

There is access to the adjacent Gregg Preserve to the west via an orange trail.


History:

Many features of the preserve still clearly reflect its agricultural past.

1800ís --  most of the stonewalls on the property were constructed. 

1963  --  the pond on the property was created when the Belknap Family constructed a dam at the watercourse.

1999 (November)  :  The Town of Wilton purchased the Belknap Preserve from the Belknap family. Thirty-seven acres of open woodlands were purchased. Keen to preserve this track of land as it stands, the Town of Wilton also granted a Conservation Easement to the Wilton Land Trust for this property that will keep the Preserve open for many generations. Additionally, the Town purchased an overlying Conservation Easement on 8.63 acres directly south of the Preserve, which, while not open to the public, will insure this land retains its open rural character.


Habitats:

pastures, wetlands, forests and Mayapple Brook valley


Trails:
 

The Belknap Preserve offers a variety of trails depending on the amount of time one wants to spend in the preserve.  One can follow trails as an entrance into additional trails within the Gregg Preserve. For a shorter walk use the yellow-blazed trail. It provides the option of a shorter route within the Preserve by cutting across the loop trail.

A short access trail connects to the blue-blazed loop trail. Turning north, downhill, the loop trail passes through a wetland system. The land within this wetland, bound historically by stonewalls, experienced minimal land use.

Following the loop trail counter-clockwise, rolling open woodlands predominate. The trail passes through former fields experiencing different stages of forest succession. Eastern red cedar, hickory, sassafras, and other sun-tolerant trees are filling in the former fields. Woodland grasses carpet much of the sunny forest floor. Grey and black birch, red maple and oak trees occur throughout the more established woodlands.

The southwestern corner of the preserve provides a dramatic westward view of the Mayapple Brook valley and beyond into the Gregg Preserve. Enjoy the view and then walk down the access trail to Mayapple Brook where you can cross the bridge and access the 74.5-acre Gregg Preserve.

Continuing on the loop trail, the woodlands brighten into areas that are still maintained as open fields. The tall grasses provide habitat for insects and bird species that prefer open meadows. Look for grasshoppers and bobolinks as you pass through the fields. The fields gently slope down to a wetland system at the eastern boundary of the property. A small stream runs through the wetland and connects to Mayapple Brook south of the property.

At the base of the slope, before you reach the stream, the trail turns into the wooded wetland and heads north and up a rocky ridge. From high on the ridge, especially in the spring and early summer, frogs can be heard from the pond below, on the adjacent property.


9/12/2005.  On a beautiful day, Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I took the shortest loop trail of the trails.  Like the Spencer-Rice Preserve, the trails here have not been used a lot and there is no apparent walkway on the ground to follow.  This makes it harder to walk the trails as you have to be more observant, carefully going from trail blaze to trail blaze.

The orange trail is the access trail to the main trails.  From the orange trail we took the blue trail to the left for a very short distance and then picked up the short-cut yellow trail.  The trail went west through a stonewall.  It turned right to go over another stonewall heading north.  Now we are up on a cliff with a long drop off on the left.  The area almost appears like a park but with a lawn of Pennsylvania sedge.  Here there is a trail visible due to the trampling of the sedge.  The trail made two right turns to make a horseshoe turn; turned left through a stone wall and then downhill; on the left is a dried-up swamp.  We explored the swamp and picked up a few plant species for the plant list.  Got back on the trail and headed uphill to catch the orange entrance trail; walked back to the car.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.  


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

*  =  plants blooming on field trip, 9/12/2005


Trees:
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)     *
Aster spp. (aster)     *
Chelidonium majus (celandine)    
Circaea sp. (enchanter's nightshade)
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Viola spp. (violet)

Sedges:
Carex intumescens (bladder sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)

Grasses:
Leersia virginica (white grass)

Ferns:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Other:
Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)

 

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