There’s a Hemlock and a Cedar Grove Too
Oak Grove Nature Center, Manchester
January 21, 2017
As I work my way through the trails of Manchester, I continue to be surprised by how enjoyable almost all of them are. This isn’t a knock on Manchester at all, but rather a comment on the fact that there are dozens of trails somehow inserted in a rather populated suburban town.
And when I find a little trail network two minutes from downtown that feels far more remote, I get a little excited. Oak Grove Nature Center is just such a place.
The Oak Grove Nature Center is a fifty-two acre nature preserve operated by the Town of Manchester and the Lutz Children’s Museum… It is an ideal place to take a break from your busy day and enjoy a quiet walk in the woods.
There is a little building at the parking lot that is used for children’s programs that the Lutz Children’s Museum puts on, but it isn’t open for galoots like me to visit. It has been removed from the official CTMQ museum list now and forevermore.
Cute butterflies on the front though.
Calvin and I visited on a warm winter day not really knowing what to expect. There is basically one loop trail here (the Pond Trail) with another loop at the far end (the Old Cedar Trail). We set off and immediately came upon a bunch of signs telling us what trees and plants we were looking at.
That’s always nice. I appreciate it much more now that I have a little reader with me. Such a sweet boy. Not a creeper at all…
Oh. Never mind.
A few minutes in, we came upon a little covered bridge. Who doesn’t love covered bridges? Everyone loves covered bridges. In fact, Calvin and I had to wait a minute or two for two families to exit the bridge. They were really enjoying the heck out of this covered bridge.
From the bridge, we began circumnavigating the pond counterclockwise. The trails here are marked well enough and are obviously cared for.
Hiking in the winter allows Calvin to engage in his favorite activity: Throwing rocks and sticks on frozen ponds. Five minutes… ten minutes… the boy just loves it. Loves it as much as you love covered bridges.
At the far end of the pond, there is a hemlock grove that sort of fades into a cedar grove. Again, we were a two-minute drive to downtown Manchester here. And that’s still cool to me. a few of the dying red cedars here really show the unique color of the trees.
We poked around the cedar stand for a while and then returned to the main Pond Trail. (The Old Cedar Trail is clearly not as popular as the main loop.) A nice little bridge and then a walk along the edge of a marsh.
I haven’t seen a proliferation of cattails as profuse as they are here in a long time. Calvin made me hop across the hummocks and hope for the best to procure him some. I hopped like a real pro. After a protracted search for the best cattails, I prolonged Calvin’s wait to hold his own.
Okay, I’ll stop with the “pro” words. I have no idea why I did that.
Calvin couldn’t get over how much the cattail felt like our couch at home, but immediately became distracted by the challenge a nearby jumble of tree roots presented to him.
He considers himself a Ninja. When hiking, he often takes on the Rock Ninja persona (rock-hopping). My lesson to him on this day was to watch out for the little nubs that are left when trail maintainers clip saplings that sprout mid-trail. When he found one under fallen leaves, he determined that only a ninja like him could have “sensed” it. Anyway, he was determined to get up this vertical root wall and dangnabbit, he did.
Because he’s a ninja.
That was pretty much it. Calvin and I returned to covered bridge and he politely asked if he could try to find rocks to break the ice. I politely said yes and then politely waited 15 minutes for him to do the impossible.
Oak Grove is a really nice little property. I was happy to see other families enjoying the walk as much as we were. Manchester has a slew of these small little gems all around town and I’d encourage you to find a few.