“They don’t make that stuff any more,” goes the old Yankee saying. That is still true. We can’t make land, but in Redding we have been saving it for half a century with the result that the town retains its rural look, little changed from 50 years ago when the Land Trust was born. Thanks to some 2000 people who have donated land and money to the Land Trust over the years, and others who have volunteered their time working on the land, Redding’s devotion to open space is there for all to see.
Drive down Cross Highway from west to east. On the right you will see Nancy Lutz’s gift of a conservation easement on 16 acres of gently sloping green that rise behind the historic house (once the Town Hall) where she lived for many years. Continue through the crossroads–the center of town–past the Old Town Hall and the Congregational Church and head downhill. At the bottom on the right is a small sign identifying Crossfield, a 7-acre former pasture that today is a prime butterfly habitat, bought by the Land Trust with donations from neighbors. Follow Cross Highway up the steep hill to Route 58 where across from the Episcopal Church is a vast meadow once used to pasture horses, still known as “Karraker’s Field” in recognition of its donors to the Trust.
On Route 107, just north of Redding Elementary School on the right if you’re heading toward Bethel, is Sam Hill’s gift of a 288-acre easement. Here, at Warrup’s Farm, his son Bill continues to farm the land, providing fresh produce, maple syrup and Halloween pumpkins to the community–and to visitors from neighboring communities as well. Farther west, at New Pond Farm, on 80 acres of forest and field, is a Land Trust easement offering pasture for cows and sheep plus a large chicken run. School children come to learn where food comes from (not the supermarket) while their parents buy fresh milk, yogurt and eggs. A hilltop observatory provides year round viewing of the stars and moon. Those who drive by are treated to a glimpse of the dusky blue foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in the distance.
And of course there is Great Ledge, the jewel in our crown, reached by the half-mile-long Pinchbeck trail that leads from Dayton Road at Fox Lane to a sheer-200-foot granite cliff with views across the Saugatuck Reservoir and hundreds of acres of wooded hills and valleys. Joan Ensor, one of the Trust’s earliest members, described the extraordinary vista: “Across the full sweep of the horizon not a house can be seen. A lone, distant church steeple points up the absence of any other sign of human handiwork. The reservoir, dotted with green islands, stretches below.”
The 60 miles of well-maintained and well-marked trails that wind through some of our most spectacular properties are taken care of by a team of volunteers known as the Trail Tenders.
Armed with chainsaws and clippers and cans of paint for blazing trees, the Trail Tenders make it possible for walkers of all ages and abilities to enjoy the hundreds of acres of open space the Land Trust has saved over the past 50 years. They clear away storm-downed trees, build simple bridges if a stream is too wide to hop across, construct wooden walkways where the going is rough or marshy.
If you are interested in working on our trails alongside other volunteers, please get in touch with our lead Trail Tender Stuart Green. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is always happy to add new workers to his list and welcomes reports of hiking conditions.
For more information on Redding’s hiking trails go to:
First published by the Land Trust in 1982, this popular guide is now in its fourth printing. An A to Z of hiking in Redding, it includes trail maps, the history of open space in Redding, information on local flora and fauna and “things to know before you go.” The book costs $10 and is available at Redding Town Hall and the Mark Twain Library.