Big Brook Gorge Preserve
The Salem Land Trust’s directions to the Big Brook Gorge Preserve tell you to look for the solitary telephone pole just before the Colchester town line. Sure enough, there was the lonely pole out my passenger side window as I rolled past without seeing any obvious trailhead or parking area. After u-turn a few feet into Colchester, I found the grassy pull-off on the east side of the road, and a small wooden sign pointing to the hiking trail.
The preserve’s main trail is a red-blazed out-and-back that descends into the titular gorge. The brook isn’t especially big, but the walls of the gorge are, providing a nice natural barrier to shield you from the traffic noise. On a recent morning outing, the only audible sounds were the gurgling of the brook, the drum of a distant woodpecker, and the brief wing-flaps of a hawk disturbed by a two-legged intruder.
A quick round-trip on the red trail is a little more than half a mile of mostly flat terrain with a few gentle hills. The 0.3-mile blue loop takes you up a moderate slope through twisting mountain laurel to the top of the gorge. Both trails are well marked and clear, save for a few downed trees leftover from the winter’s storms.
Directions: Take exit 82 off I-95 or exit 2 off I-395 and go north on Route 85. Trailhead is on the right side of Route 85, about four miles past the traffic circle at Salem Four Corners, just before the Colchester town line. (Use 750 Hartford Rd. for GPS address)
Where to Park: Parking available in a dirt/grass pull-off by a single telephone pole.
Description: 20 acre property around Big Brook, a tributary of the Eight Mile River. Two trails of 0.3 miles each.
Regulations: Dogs on leashes are welcome on Salem Land Trust owned preserves.
Natural Features: 100-foot deep gorge surrounded by wildflowers, mountain laurel and hardwood forest.
Owned by: Salem Land Trust
More information: http://www.salemlandtrust.org
Trail map can be found at: http://www.salemlandtrust.org/TRAIL%20MAPS/Big%20Brook%20Gorge%20Preserve.jpg