Points of Interest
Meeker Swamp is a unique calcareous wetland – a chalky limestone-based geology rarely found east of the Appalachian Mountains. One of the last significant calcareous ecosystems in the Northeast Hills, it encompasses over 300 acres and includes part of the Bee Brook stream, wet meadows and agricultural fields as well as an adjacent ridge of talus slopes and rocky outcroppings. An excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife, the preserve overlies one of Washington’s largest aquifers and protects the town’s drinking water supply.
Directions: Follow the Yellow Circle Trail from the parking area. The entire 15-minute trek is flat. The grassy trail crosses over Bee Brook and then passes through a large meadow teaming with birds, butterflies and other wildlife. After leaving the meadow, the trail traverses the edge of a large hay field, leading to an elevated platform providing visitors with a bird’s-eye view of the expansive Meeker Swamp. (0.77-mile one-way)
En route to Waramaug’s Rock, the lookout provides a welcome resting spot with a scenic view of the hayfield adjacent to Meeker Swamp. The hayfield and surrounding meadows are home to myriad varieties of songbirds, butterflies and other wildlife. Hidden Valley Preserve forms much of the southeastern horizon.
Directions: Follow the Yellow Circle Trail from the parking area. This 30-minute trek traverses a mélange of environments. The trail starts flat, crosses over Bee Brook and meanders through a large wildlife meadow before skirting a hayfield to the forest edge. After crossing Bee Brook again, the path then climbs steeply along a series of switchbacks before emerging at a rocky outcrop, revealing an expansive view southeast over a nearly unblemished countryside. (1.11 miles one-way)
At an elevation of 1,250 feet, Waramaug’s Rock is a spectacular overlook providing panoramic views of Lake Waramaug and the surrounding countryside. Named after a chief of the Wyantenock Indian tribe, Lake Waramaug is the second largest natural lake in Connecticut, an ecologically vital habitat for wildlife and a recreational center for the Towns of Washington, Warren and Kent. The awe-inspiring views from the top are a rewarding dividend for the steep hike.
Directions: Follow the Yellow Circle Trail from the parking lot. Perhaps the most physically challenging hike in any of the preserves, this 45-minute climb also may be the most rewarding hike in any of the preserves. The trail starts flat, crosses over Bee Brook and meanders through a large wildlife meadow before skirting a hayfield to the forest edge. After crossing Bee Brook again, the path then climbs steeply along a series of switchbacks before emerging at the Lookout. From this point, it’s another 15 minutes of steady climbing before the trail finally emerges among the clouds at Waramaug Rock, the weathered and windswept crown of Lake Waramaug. (1.69 miles one-way)