Woodland Park
Middlesex Road, Darien, Fairfield County, Connecticut
64.7 acres

two entrances to the park; Middlesex Road and West Avenue


Directions:

US 95 north to Exit 10; turn left onto Noroton Avenue heading north to Middlesex Road. Take left on Middlesex Road. Entrance to park will be on left after intersection with Hollow Tree Ridge Road.


Geology/Topography:

A stream flows southwest into the Noroton River.


History:

This land was once clear-cut for farming.

1700s and early 1800s  --  John Holmes Jr., and his family owned and farmed the land for several generations.

20th century  --  Walter Edward Irving owned the land.

1944  --  Mr. Irving named a 200 + year old American beech tree the "Holmes Beech" for former land owner John Holmes, Jr.  At the time the land here was known as "Irving's Woods".

Source:

Patrick Barnard. August 25, 2005.  "Woodland Park: Nature at its Best." Life Times section of the Darien Times.


Trails:

Woodland Park is the largest remaining natural public open space in Darien.  It currently consists of a number of walking trails as well as a limited gravel parking area accessible from Middlesex Road. There are two trail systems, two ponds (Turtle Pond and Old Maidís Pond), a stream, a footbridge, an archaic stonewall, and ornamental plantings.  The extensive trail system includes step ways and bridges, two field areas, two ponds, and ornamental plantings.

A service road travels from north to south and is the line between the two trails, east and west:

Features of the West Side Trail (Yellow-Blazed):
stop 1: brambles
stop 2. intermittent brook
stop 3. oak hill
stop 4. lower meadows
stop 5. Old Maids Pond
stop 6. white pines

Features of the East Side Trail (White-Blazed):
stop 1: entrance
stop 2. footbridge
stop 3. glacial erratics
stop 4. stonewall
stop 5. upland field
stop 6. Turtle Pond
stop 7. mature forest

10/28/2005.  On a cold morning, Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I walked the west side (yellow-blazed trail).  This places seems to be the central dog walking park in Darien.  There were lots of dogs, all running around without leashes.  The trail starts heading south using the broad, rocky Service Road.  There are a few labels identifying some of the trees. The trails heads to the right (west) to make a loop trail back to the Service Road.  We went through the woods to a clearing in the woods.  Continuing on we headed downhill with the trail.  We actually walked right by Old Maids Pond because it is somewhat hidden off-trail and on the right.  We came to the border of the park next to private houses and made a left turn.  (Make a right turn and walk parallel to someone's driveway for a short ways to come to the pond, covered with green watermeal.)

Turning/bearing left we walked to stop #6, which is another clearing (part of the earlier clearing).  We realized here that we had missed the pond and so walked in a circle to retrace our steps starting from station #6. 

Returning to #6, we continued on a short ways to hook up with the Service Road.  We turned left and walked back to the entrance and our car.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney. 


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant found in bloom on date of field trip, 10/28/2005


Trees:
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)     *
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Rhododendron sp. ? (azalea)  ?
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus flagellaris (northern dewberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Vaccinium sp. (a low bush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Euonymus fortunii (Fortune's euonymus)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaf greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Aster spp. (aster)     *
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Euthamia tenuifolium (slender-leaved goldenrod)     
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Rumex sp. (dock)
Solidago spp. (goldenrod)
(watermeal)

Rushes:
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Ferns:
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

 

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