Hidden Valley Nature Center

Gillotti Road, New Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut

Approx. 14 Acres


Directions:

US 84 east; exit 5 for Route 39 north; head from Danbury into New Fairfield; turn right onto Gillotti Road; before reaching Meeting House Hill Elementary School, turn left just after the brown sign for the Hidden Valley Nature Center.  Park near the information Center.

Or

Take Interstate 84 west; get off at exit 6. At the end of the ramp turn right onto Rt. 37 north.  Take Rt. 37 all the way to New Fairfield center.  When you reach the center you'll have small shopping centers on either side.  Rt. 37 and Rt. 39 intersect here.  Take a left onto Rt. 39.

Make a right onto Gilotti Road.  Three-tenths of a mile (0.3) up Gilotti Rd. is Meeting House Hill Elementary School.  Go past the school and a few hundred feet on your right is the entrance to Hidden Valley. Pull into the dirt parking area and you'll immediately see the information center.


History:

1960 Hidden Valley Nature Center created by a handful of local residents. Situated in the middle of our school campus, it was in an ideal location to serve as both a sanctuary and an environmental education center.

1960-1972 Frances Gillotti, one of the original founders, became the Center's volunteer Director.

1972-1980s the town's Conservation Commission decided operate the area and hiring Program Directors.

1990s the center became a victim of budget cuts, vandalism, arson and damage from construction projects.

Boy Scout troop 137 and the Lion's Club helped revive the Center.

The New Fairland Land Trust (NFLT) got a conservation easement on the land.

NFLT succeeded in adding 2 acres to the 12 acres.

Hidden Valley Nature Center is the site of the annual Earth Day Celebration.


Habitats:

uplands and wetlands


Facilities:

Hiking trails, outdoor pavilion, picnic area, and museum.
Open sunrise to sunset, nature programs and day camps are offered


Trails:

A Western Corridor, the Ball Point Corridor, is a hoped-for greenway that would go behind Margerie Reservoir to Hidden Valley Nature Center, and terminate at Ball Pond.     http://www.newfairfieldlibrary.org/06OpnSpc.pdf

Ball Pond is a natural body of water lying in the southwestern section of New Fairfield Township and is surrounded by small lot residential development.

The northern half of Margerie Lake, a City of Danbury water supply reservoir, extends into south central New Fairfield.

At Hidden Valley, there are 19 self-guided tour points around the small pond. 

If one were to walk all the trails, it might take a only half an hour (unless you are a botanist). 

There are two ponds. One small and another a little larger.  For the second pond, there is a wooden platform for viewing the pond.  


Difficulty: Easy

Main Attractions: Large pond, trails, information/educational center, fishing, woodlands.


7/18/2005.  On a miserably hot and humid day, Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I hiked around the two ponds at the nature center as well as the skunk cabbage marsh.  We walked by the nature center and took a look at the map on the wall of the building.  Then we walked by the picnic pavilion via the yellow trail.  Next stop was a small pond on the left a little downhill.  There is quite a bit of pondweed on the pond.  Continued on the yellow trail and then turned left at a T-intersection and followed the red trail over the board walk through the swamp cabbage marsh.  The trail then bears right uphill.  We could have kept following the trail to Gillotti Road, but we were more interested in seeing the large pond than walking through the woods. 

The larger pond is very shallow with a lot of pondweed.  We walked over to the viewing platform to get a better look at the pond.  There was also a lot of rice cut grass on the shores of the shallow pond.

I continued to walk to the south end of the pond, while Cefe rested in the shade.  I had to be careful walking between the huge clumps of invasive species on the hill there and the pond shore.  Then I walked uphill a small distance, turned left and followed parallel with the highway back to the first of two entrances for the nature center.  Picked up a lot of roadside plant species for the plant list.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


Source:

http://www.berkshirehiking.com/hikes/hiddenvalley.html


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

* = plants blooming on date of field trip, 7/18/2005.  


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)  
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)    
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Salix sp. (willow)
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (smooth arrowwood viburnum)

Vines:
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)     *
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Agrimonia gryposepala (agrimony)    
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)     *
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Anaphalis margaritacea (pearly everlasting)    
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Aster spp. (asters)
Bidens connata (swamp beggar ticks)    
Bidens sp. (beggar ticks) 
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)     *
Cichorium intybus (chicory)     *    
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)     *
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)     *
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)     *
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink)     *
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane)     *
Eupatorium maculatum (spotted Joe-Pye weed)     *    
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Galium mollugo (wild madder)    
Geum canadense (white avens)     *
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort)     *
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johnswort)     *
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)     *    
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)    
Lapsana communis (nipplewort)   
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)     *    
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil)     *
Lycopus sp. (bugleweed)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower) 
Medicago lupulina (black medick)     *
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover)     *
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower)     *    
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Nuphar variegata (spadderdock)     * 
Oxalis sp. (yellow sweet clover)     *
Penthorum sedoides (ditch stonecrop)     *
Plantago major (common plantain)
Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)    
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed)     *
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)   
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potamogeton sp. (pondweed)     *    
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)    
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)     
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup)     *
Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish)     ?
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)    
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sagina sp. (pearlwort)     *    
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)     *    
Silene latifolia (white campion)      *
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade)     *    
Solidago rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod)
Solidago canadensis var. scabra (tall goldenrod)
Sparganium sp. (burreed) 
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)   
Trifolium aureum (yellow clover)     *
Trifolium pratense (red clover)      *
Trifolium repens (white clover)     *
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) 
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)     *
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)     *    
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex lurida (lurid sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge) 
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)
Scirpus validus (soft-stem bulrush)

Grasses:
Leersia oryzoides (rice cut grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dryopteris carthusiana (toothed woodfern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern) 
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

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