Coming Up Daisy
Fennerswood Preserve, Stonington
You all should know that I love the Avalonia Land Conservancy. Their advocacy, their reach, their passion, their website… all absolutely top notch. And they have a ton of properties all over southeastern Connecticut.
And when an organization has a ton of properties, they can’t all be awesome, right? Law of averages and all that.
Such is the case with Fennerswood. Which is somewhat ironic, I guess, because it’s one of the Avalonia properties people pass and see its signage as much as almost any other Avalonia property. It straddles North Main Street, just south of Pequot Trail (Route 234), right off of I-95. Trust me, if you’ve spend any time in one of Connecticut’s most charming areas, you’ve driven through and past Fennerswood.
And in fact, so has Julia Roberts… say what? Remember this iconic scene from Mystic Pizza? See that second picture above? Yeah…
That is right here. On North Main Street in the middle of Avalonia’s Fennerswood Preserve. There should be a plaque.
And that’s the most interesting thing going on here. There’s a large parking pull-out and a giant sign welcoming walkers to the 3/4 mile loops on the western side of the road. (The land on the eastern side is also protected, but not trailed.)
I hopped out and got going straight into the woods along the path. These woods, like many Stonington woods, are crisscrossed with stone walls. Lots and lots of old stone walls, so if you’re an old stone wall fan, perhaps you’ll enjoy this property more than I did.
This first bit, hiking clockwise, will take you through some muck and mud, even in dry weather. Then you’ll reach a spot overlooking a stream. Follow another wall north towards Pequot Trail before heading west again along another stone wall to go look at that same stream again. I was here at the end of a hiking season, so to speak, and the trail blazes weren’t in the best shape. And sometimes, they were tiny dots on the ground. Not ideal:
At the end of the second little loop spur, I simply turned around, back to the last stone wall, back south, and then east at another stone wall out towards North Main Street. Near the end, I crossed an open field which is probably riddled with ticks for most of the year, so be careful.
Out to the road, to my car, and I was on my way. Fennerswood, y’all.
I don’t want to give you the impression this place isn’t nice. It’s perfectly nice. I think that after passing the trailhead for a decade and always thinking of stopping off to check it out, I’d built it up to be something more than it actually is.
Also, Stonington hikes are generally Stonington hikes, y’know? There’s a pile of oyster shells somewhere or views across the Sound, or the smell of salt air, or peaks into the backs of wealthy properties, or cool rocky escarpments or bluffs… or something. Here? Aside from the proliferation of stone walls, it’s no different from the woods behind my house.
Except Julia Roberts never stood out on my road in a dress and high heels.
You win again, Stonington… you win again.