Falls River Preserve

View of Mill Pond from Falls River Landing.
View of Mill Pond from Falls River Landing.

View Falls River Preserve in a larger map

Falls River Preserve

The town of Essex offers many things to residents and visitors. Great shopping in its charming downtown district; historic points of interest thanks to its proximity to the Connecticut River; and hundreds of acres of preserved open space, courtesy of the Essex Land Trust. In Ivoryton, one of Essex's hamlets, travelers will encounter gingerbread house Victorians, a downright jolly town green, the famous playhouse and a lovely little waterway called the Falls River.

This river has been dammed since 1701, according to the land trust, but it maintains some semblance of winding direction. A hike in the Falls River Preserve offers first peeks, then mood-altering full views of its waters, set behind the properites of lucky residents. You almost feel like you're observing another world from the water's edge. Or, thanks to the regular echo of train whistles emanating from the Essex Steam Train at the Valley Shore Railroad, you might prefer to imagine you've stepped into another time.

In any case, the trails are short and well-established, and tougher hikes up and over ancient rock ledges offer a great workout. Paddlers are welcome to put in at Falls River Landing, situated next to a little park, which appears shortly after the turn onto Falls River Drive.

Town: Ivoryton; at the end of Falls River Drive, off Main St.

Directions: From Route 9 take Exit 3. Follow Rte. 154 N for about two miles to Falls River Dr.

Where to Park: Rustic parking area near trail entrance at Falls River Drive

Description: 40 acres of forest, trails and rock that juts into Mill Pond on the Falls River in Ivoryton, a section of Essex.

Regulations: For pedestrian use only.

Amenities: Canoe and kayak access at Falls River Landing, which comes up before the preserve's entrance on Falls River Drive.

Natural Features: Falls River; Mill Pond at Falls River Landing; 800-million-year-old metamorphic schist ledge plus the "Monster Pit" hewn from the same rock; loads of mountain laurel.

Fees: None

Owned by: Essex Land Trust, which calls the preserve "an important stopover for warblers, vireos, blackbirds and other migrating songbirds and is the year-round home of chickadees, titmice, cardinals, nuthatches and woodpeckers."

More information: www.essexlandtrust.org

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