Not a Rest Stop
Lombardi Ridge Preserve & Bobcat Woods, Bolton
Anyone who drives the NJ Turnpike is familiar with the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop. It’s the one with views of Manhattan across the Hudson River. It’s huge. And it’s necessarily ugly. The Lombardi Ridge Preserve in Bolton is a very, very different place.
Less than 5,000 people live in Bolton. There are apartment complexes in New York City with that many people. There is plenty of land in Bolton for the local land trust to preserve and manage. And it’s good to see them expanding their footprint in town.
Their newest acquisition (in 2020 anyway) is Bobcat Woods. At the time of my visit, there was a loop trail that was flagged through the property. I quickly jogged the thing and… it wasn’t very exciting. What is exciting is that it is right next to Lombardi Ridge, which is an exciting and fun place to hike.
So let’s move away from Bobcat Woods and into Lombardi. To access both properties, you must park out on the new High Ridge Farm Road from which you can stare at a new subdivision of giant houses. From there, walk east down Wood Road for a few minutes to the trailhead.
The main orange-blazed trail here is a pleasant loop that is a little over a mile long. There’s a shorter lollipop trail that juts off of the main trail at the back of the loop. We took on the Orange loop clockwise and I was treated to a series of professional European soccer player celebrations for the first several minutes by my son.
You don’t care, but I have this dream that 30 years from now Calvin will read through all the pages on CTMQ that he’s tagged on. So yes, son, this is exactly what you did in the Bolton woods, jumping off of boulders with your Ronaldo and your Pulisic or whomever celebrations. Clown.
But that didn’t take away from the cool rock features here. There are cliffs and rockpiles and all sorts of fun stuff. In the middle of it all is a memorial stone dedicated to Frank Lombardi’s memory and a bench donated by the four Bolton churches. It is located in a natural amphitheater; obviously a place for Calvin to recreate a famous Antoine Griezmann goal celebration of course.
After the trail’s winding path through the rock features, it settles down and takes a more straightforward course through typical New England woods. Even in April, we still experienced a bit of the “laurel tunnel” effect here and there, but of course it would have been more noticeable in the summer.
Calvin made his way to the top of every rock feature, always trying to get every ounce of danger from every hike. (Note: there is nothing dangerous in these particular woods.) We reached Wood Road again, now nothing more than an unused dirt path in the woods. Since our last name is Wood, Calvin decided that this was “our” road but was a bit disappointed that it’s nothing more than… an unused dirt path in the woods in Bolton.
We tackled the outer blue loop which appears to exist for no other reason than there’s a small hill with a few more rock features on it to experience. So we experienced them.
Back to Wood Road and the Orange Trail, I once again came to appreciate trail designers. Clearly the Bolton Land Trust crew were sure to take hikers through every single feature of any note here. We wound our way off of the road and through a hemlock grove. Since hemlocks are usually dead or dying, I have no idea how this patch has been spared, so go enjoy it while you can.
After that, the trail takes on an entirely different feel as it courses along a stream through swampy lowlands. Skunk cabbage was emerging and the bugs were just starting to hatch, so it was a rather pleasant experience for us. I don’t imagine that is always the case here throughout the summer.
The BLT has installed several little bridges throughout this section. We hiked fairly close to the new houses; close enough to overhear backyard conversations. I never like that, but its just a fact of hiking life in a densely populated state like Connecticut. Yes, even in Bolton.
I never know what to expect when I decide to walk smaller trails around the state. Calvin and I both enjoyed this short hike and appreciated the diversity of terrain along it. The Lombardi Ridge Preserve gets a decent goal celebration from us both.