Stormfield

Ownership

Town of Redding

Acreage

161

Entrances

Off Rox Run Road;

for Sandy's Trail, junction of Routes 107 and 53

Parking

Elbow of Fox Run Road; Route 53, south of junction

Trails

Captain Stormfield, 0.93 mile; Sandy's, 0.93; Halo, 0.58; Halley's Comet, 0.43; Harp, 0.6; all blazed white Raccoon Lane, 0.57, unblazed

Total all trails: 4.04

Background: When Samuel Clemens-or Mark Twain, if you prefer the pen name-moved to his new, Italian-style villa in Redding in 1908, he had previously seen neither the villa nor the town. According to the local historian Charles Burr Todd, Clemens had purchased his 228 acres as an investment and did not intend to build here himself. But after the author's daughter, Clara Clemens, came to look over the property and "was enchanted with its beauty," Clemens changed his mind. Redding at that time, of course, was far more remote and sparsely settled than it is now, but word of its rural beauty was already spreading. Clemens's close friend and biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, while looking for a farm to buy, had been advised, "Have you tried Redding, a new place?" So when the Paines heard of a Redding farm for sale on what is now Diamond Hill Road, they came for a look. "The forests and running brooks," Paine wrote, "the river, the seclusion, the entire absence of insect pests (sic) pleased us, and we bought the farm. We have never regretted it." Thus did Paine transmit his enthusiasm to Clemens. The second newcomer to Redding-the one with the mane of white hair had intended to name his place "Innocents at Home," but soon decided to call it "Stormfield" instead, after his story, Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. In his biography of Clemens, Paine describes how the change came about:

When ... the summer storms gathered on the rock-bound open hill, with its wide reaches of vine and shrub-wild, fierce storms that bent the birch and cedar, and strained at the bay and huckleberry, with lightning and turbulent wind and thunder, followed by the charging rain-the name seemed to become peculiarly appropriate. Standing with his head bared to the tumult, his white hair tossing in the blast, and looking out upon the wide splendor of the spectacle, he rechristened the place, and "Stormfield" it became and remained.

Clemens's investment has now become Redding's prize. After eight years of negotiations, the Conservation Commission and various attorneys worked out in 1974 an arrangement with the owner of Stormfield, Doreen Danks, whereby the Town would buy 161 acres in 15-acre installments over 11 years (and at $3,500 an acre). The Town took title to the entire acreage with the first installment, but, under the agreement, could not use the property until all parcels had been purchased. The town meeting vote by which this arrangement was approved on August 28, 1974, was 107 to 0. The years rolled by. In 1985, the Town became full owner of Stormfield's woods, rocks, brooks and "wide splendor": (but not of the rebuilt villa-the original was destroyed by fire in 1923-and 67 acres which remain in private ownership). The names of the five trails that have been cut at Stormfield were suggested by characters, objects or events in Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven.

Key Features:Entering off Fox Run Road, the visitor may choose Raccoon Lane to the right, a scenic wood road giving access farther south to the Stormfield trails and to Link Trail, or he may forge straight ahead, across a small stone bridge and uphill on Halley's Comet Trail. Turning right over a stonewall and into open woods, this trail passes an unusually large white pine and winds on north to its end at the property boundary. Captain Stormfield Trail takes off from Halley's Comet and proceeds south through hemlock woods and past scenic rock formations. It climbs to a rocky overlook, descends to skirt a wide swamp, and brushes Raccoon Lane on its way to a junction with the Harp and Halo trails. Essentially a loop through second-growth woods, the Halo for a few hundred yards parallels the edge of an open field (privately owned), then passes through a grove of hardwoods before returning to the three-way junction. The Harp Trail may be followed straight through open woods (passing on the other side of the swamp from Captain Stormfield Trail) to Halley's Comet Trail, then back to the Fox Run entrance. Altogether different is Sandy's Trail, which rises off Route 107 into a magnificent hemlock forest embracing a ravine with a seasonal brook. Keeping left of a low stone wall, the trail climbs past mossy rock outcrops, through high laurel bushes into deciduous woodlands. For a stretch, the trail follows an ancient roadbed between stone walls, then veers left to start a loop that leads past a wetland to an overgrown field. The trail traverses the field, then curves to reenter the woods and rejoin the old roadbed. The trail's southern end is at the intersection of Routes 107 and 53. A quarter mile south on Route 53 (Glen Road) the entrance to Reservoir Trail is found on the right. ❧