Sunny Valley Preserve
New Milford/Bridgewater, Litchfield County, Connecticut
Directions to the office
From the east:
* Go about a half mile on Sunny Valley Road to stop sign and turn left and continue on Sunny Valley Road for about a half mile. Turn right onto Sunny Valley Lane.
1973-1979 -- the preserve was originally donated by the late George D. Pratt Jr. of Bridgewater in a series of transfers.
farmland, forests (including large stands of hemlock and mixed second growth hardwood forest), wetlands, and meadows on 19 parcels of land. About 450 acres of the preserve are in active agriculture and 1,200 acres of natural lands.
Difficulty: Easy or Moderate
Main Attractions: Scenic trails, open fields, long or short hikes, bird watching, historic abandoned mine.
There are 13 miles of recreational hiking trails and farm observation sites. Visitors can hike on trails and learn about nature, land management, and environmentally compatible farming at several observation sites.
Call ahead to the preserve office at (860) 355-3716 for a trail map and directions to Bridgewater trails.
Sunny Valley is located in Bridgewater and New
Milford and is part of the Nature Conservancy. BerkshireHiking.com
recognizes the importance of the Conservancy as a crucial means to protect some
of America's "last great places". The open field hike in New Milford is worth
the trip alone and really fascinating because it's right in the middle of built
up Route 7 congestion but somehow closes that whole world off. The following
text was taken directly from the Nature Conservancy web site in describing Sunny
Valley Preserve. It's the perfect place to bring young children as they have
barns and farm animals as well as a nice open field for them to see all sorts of
birds and insects.
An example of the kind of unique events going on at Sunny Valley can be found in a story Jackie Gunnarshaug wrote and sent to me. One day, baby Kestrels arrived...(click here to read the story and see photos)
"Sunny Valley Preserve consists of 1,850 acres of farmland, forests, wetlands, and meadows on 19 parcels of land in New Milford and Bridgewater, Connecticut. Originally donated to The Nature Conservancy by the late George D. Pratt Jr. of Bridgewater in a series of transfers from 1973 to 1979, the preserve today is operated by Conservancy staff and several tenant farmers.
About 600 acres of the preserve are in active agriculture. Recreational hiking trails and observation sites are open to visitors, helping promote public awareness and understanding of nature, land management, and environmentally compatible farming. Sunny Valley's variety of topography, geology, and natural habitats support diverse wildlife and biological communities."
The preserve's grasslands and a wide range of vegetation also provide habitat for such species as the eastern meadowlark, bobolink, American kestrel, and Cooper's hawk, which are known to be declining in the Northeast. To help manage these areas for such species, the Conservancy has initiated surveys to develop an inventory of the preserve's wildlife and plants.
Sunny Valley's farmland and farm operations remain a focal point of community interest. The Nature Conservancy has returned the preserve's three primary farms to productive agriculture by leasing them to farmers after making significant capital improvements. This investment has paid off with increased local interest in the preserve and support for The Nature Conservancy.
Sunny Valley has an annual event in October called Open Farm Day. It's open
to the public so visit their website and call for details.
Sunny Valley website
Rocky Hill Trail System entrance in Bridgewater can be accessed by following these directions: From the junction of CT routes 67 and 133 in Bridgewater, go south CT 133 about .7 mile then turn right on Hat Shop Road. After .6 mile, bare left then right on Hemlock Rd. for 1.6 miles to the end of the pavement. Go on for .2 mile to the small parking lot at left just before the Rocky Hill Trail System entrance.
The main trail loop is tree miles in total distance and can be completed in two hours. It's fairly level terrain and shouldn't present any difficulties to anyone in "walking" shape. The trail, which is marked by white paint, starts at the sign "Silica Mine Hill" in the rear right corner of the parking area. Follow the trail to enjoy a glacial pond, white hemlock forest, and a nice view overlooking the valley. At Sunny Valley Preserve there is a whole world to be discovered at your own pace.
Migratory species such as the worm-eating warbler, cerulean warbler, northern goshawk and scarlet tanager have found a secure nesting place in Sunny Valley's forests. The preserve's grasslands and a wide range of vegetation also provide habitat for such species as the eastern meadowlark, bobolink, American kestrel, and Cooper's hawk, which are known to be declining in the Northeast.
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