St. Johns Ledges
Kent, Litchfield County, Connecticut
Sources: Cooley #20, Keyarts, #17
From the center of Kent start at Route 7; drive west on Route 341 across the Housatonic Rive; turn right (north) onto Skiff Mountain Road, pass by the Kent School field house and after 1.1 miles bear right on River Road (which turns to dirt); continue north for 1.7 miles to the parking area at the foot of the ledges.
The ledges of gneiss mark the eastern boundary of the Housatonic Highlands Massif (over one billion years ago), one of the oldest bedrock formations in New England. The ledges rise 500-600 feet above the Housatonic River.
The Schaghticoke Indians were in the area at the beginning of the 18th century. Kent became a white settlement in 1783. John Fuller purchased the northern section . Timothy St. Johns bought the Fuller land some 50 years later.
end of 19th century -- most of the forest in the Housatonic River Valley cut down for charcoal. Nearby here, there was a smelting furnace north of Kent on Route 7.
1910 -- the Stanley Works of New Britain, CT begin purchasing large tracts of land on either side of the Housatonic River in order to build a dam across the river. The dam never came to fruition.
1976 -- the company gave 132 acres, including St. Johns Ledges, to The Nature Conservancy and granted an easement over the part of the Appalachian Trail that runs north into Sharon, following the western bank of the river.
1985 -- TNC sold this tract to the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). This is said to be one of the most beautiful stretches of the AT.
Here is a one mile round-trip to the top of the ledges via a steep stone staircase. At the top is a beautiful view of the Housatonic River.
Here is the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT). Take it into the woods going in a northwestern direction. Then the trail swings south and starts a steep climb. You pass over boulders and pass under 80 feet high sheer cliffs. Take a long stone staircase to the top of the ledge. The trail heads south.
Turn back and retrace your steps.
Or you can continue southwest along the AT, enter Pond Mountain Natural Area and climb Calebís Peak.
You can also walk down to the Housatonic River on a wide trail.
Cooley, #20 and Dr. Patrick L. Cooney (February 9, 2002)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple) many planted along River Road
Acer sp. (maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fraxinus sp. (ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)?
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lonicera sp. (Morrow's honeysuckle)?
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus odoratus (purple-flowering raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's Lace)
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Carex laxiflora type (sedge)
Elymus sp. (wild rye grass)
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (lady fern)
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