What? Heroin Hookery?
Helen’s Way and the Great Blue Heron Rookery
November 3, 2013
I went to see longtime online friend and Courant writer Peter Marteka give a presentation at the Simsbury Library all about “Hidden Hikes in Connecticut.” Easily one of my favorite topics in the world and the talk did not disappoint.
Afterward, charged with excitement, I went off to “hike” a short Simsbury Land Trust walk. It was a total bust, so I stopped off at the immense Simsbury “entertainment” area along Iron Horse Boulevard to poke around for the heron rookery one of the audience members mentioned during Marteka’s talk.
Visiting heron rookeries in November is rather silly since the seasonal occupants are usually a thousand miles south. Our Simsbury herons were nowhere to be found during this particular visit. (And they don’t necessarily roost at the same place for years on end either.)
There is a (probably) larger and (maybe) more accessible (via kayak/canoe) rookery in Portland along the Connecticut River and I hope to check that out when the birds return in late March/early April.
According to my old Simsbury Land Trust Walkbook, there was (is?) a town open space trail that goes around behind the rookery. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case anymore.
However, if YOU are interested in finding this place, it’s quite easy. In fact, I saw 5 different people on the short walk out towards it, including two high school girls doing a modeling shoot of some sort. They seemed creeped out by the old guy walking around back there alone. (That would be me.)
From Iron Horse Boulevard, go to the Band Shell and then keep driving back past the little dog park thing. Park over there somewhere, walk along and across the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and find the trail/boardwalk that crosses the unpaved road just past the dog park. This is Helen’s Way. Take Helen’s Way out away from civilization until it ends in a field. Keep going straight through the marshy field along the faint trail. Go through the treeline and down into the marshier area as far as you feel comfortable and/or until you lose your first shoe.
Look left about 200-250 yards away. Look up at the tree tops. Boom: Great Blue Heron Rookery.
Now you know.