Woods in Woods
Holcomb Farm (West), Granby
It’s always fun when three generations of Woods can get out into the woods together. (My last name is Wood.) Such was the case in early April 2018 when my parents were visiting for Calvin’s 7th birthday. I’m sure Granddad wanted nothing more than to hike a few miles in Granby after driving up from Delaware.
We first visited Connecticut’s coolest tree which my father appreciated. We Woods like wood.
Holcomb Farm is a fairly large tract of land, separated by Simsbury Road/Day Street into east and west sections. The farm itself has a bunch of meeting spaces in its barns and serves as a sort of community hub. I’ve looked a few times if there is anything CTMQ-worthy inside at Holcomb Farm, but have thus far come up blank.
And that’s fine, as there are miles of hiking trails here to keep me busy. Even better? This property is bounded by the McLean Game Refuge to the east and south and Granby Land Trust/Enders Falls State Forest to the west. If you wished, you could spend two days hiking McLean, Holcomb, and over into/near Enders.
The first bit of our walk took us through some farm fields. Holcomb protects their crops with a very tall, very secure fence. Hikers must figure out how to open and lock the fence door before continuing on to the West Branch of the Salmon River and off into the hills.
Looking for a bit more challenge? To the west, walk along the brook and up the ridge. These hills mark the beginning of the Berkshire Mountains, which extend up into Massachusetts. Cross the West Branch of the Salmon Brook, a tributary of the Farmington River. Look for white-tailed deer, box turtles, and many more birds. More than 60 bird species live at Holcomb Farm.
The bridge across the river looked quite new and quite impressive. It’s clear that the river floods quite a bit here and the span accounts for that.
Once across the bridge, we began the walk to attain the ridge. Holcomb has built a nice set of stairs which was likely a necessity after the original trail caused damaging erosion. It is a steep climb.
There are several different trails here; basically just a series of longer loops that radiate farther and farther away from the parking lot. Not only were we tackling them all, we were going beyond the furthest loop and off into Granby Land Trust land.
We Woods don’t mess around.
Red Trail, Yellow Trail, Blue Trail, Green Trail… took us out to the closed-to-cars Broad Hill Road. There is a hiker’s lot near where the Green Trail intersected with the forest road if you’re interested. This is near the land trust’s Diamond Ledges which a popular backwoods rock-climbing area.
We walked down Broad Hill Road all the way down to the falls and then back tracked to re-enter Holcomb land via the orange-blazed “Northwest Passage” trail. Obviously this trail gets its name by the fact that it takes Holcomb hikers, um, northwest over towards Enders State Forest and its beautiful waterfalls.
The future East-West CFPA trail may follow this route actually. If you’re reading this in the future, note the date of this post.
We hit the purple trail and one of the highlights of the property: a view! Calvin scurried to the top of the outcropping and took a little rest. A picnic table sits below the bare rock and offers hikers a nice spot to enjoy a snack.
What’s neat about this overlook is that it is essentially at the same elevation as a bench over on a hill in the eastern section of Holcomb Farm – it’s in that patchwork of light tan field in the distance here.
Well, I think that’s neat anyway.
After Calvin’s little snack break, we made our way back through the trails… Purple, Green, Blue, Yellow… and the stairs again. Breaking all trail etiquette rules, I allowed Calvin to take a shortcut down the steep grade.
It’s clear he wasn’t the first to do it and, well, it’s hard to deny a just-turned seven-year-old when he really wants to slide down a hill.
So he did.
Back across the bridge, back through the fields, and back to the car.
We probably walked nearly 3 miles and had a great time. The trails here do get a little confusing as there are more than are marked/on the map and some could use a fresh round of blazing. But you can’t really get lost and hey, if you do? It’s a really nice area to get lost in.