Cue the Waterworks
Water Works Brook, Windsor Locks
I’m going to provide all of you – yes, you people that feel the urge to go for a walk at Water Works Brook – a huge service. When you go to look up where this place is, every map and resource will point you to the wrong place. Different wrong places to boot. The entrance and trailhead is on the west side of South Center Street, just north of AD’s Pizzeria and just south of Raymond Road. It is not located at the four other places various online trail references will tell you.
Fortunately, Windsor Locks is not large, so I didn’t spend too much time driving around looking for this dang place. And once I found it, I was mad that so many resources pointed me wrong. It’s signed well! It has a large parking lot and a nice trailhead kiosk! Vexing to say the least.
Enough to make me cry… cue the water works.
Water Works Brook had been owned by The Connecticut Water Company for more than 50 years and was used as a public drinking water supply source. When the company informed Windsor Locks that it no longer needed this well field for water supply purposes, the town expressed a strong desire to preserve the site for recreational purposes.
Good for the town. The property is, in fact, the largest remaining open space in Windsor Locks at 198 acres. The purchase and protection was aided by the Trust for Public Works and while its more or less hemmed in by I-91, Route 20, some Thrall farmland, and suburban houses, it does have a few trails and provides people with a nice place to stroll.
I did not stroll however. I hustled. My son was at a soccer practice nearby and my time was fleeting. And it was raining. Boo-hoo, poor me. Cue the waterworks.
The parking lot is large and tucked away from the nearby businesses. The kiosk notes that there are “several other unmarked” trails here, but that the main Michael G. Gragnolati Trail should be your focus anyway. The trail follows the old access road that the water company used and then joins an old woods road for about a mile before finally becoming more of a trail trail until it ends at the Thrall property line.
I can’t find anything specific about Gragnolati other than his family has been a prominent Windsor Locks name for decades. Perhaps he facilitated the saving of the space.
And it’s a really nice patch of woods. The din of the two nearby highways is ever-present, and jet airplanes often fly low upon landing or taking off from nearby Bradley International Airport. But the constant chirps of spring peepers drowned that out as I quickly made my way down the old access road, catching glimpses of Water Works Brook through the woods.
There’s a huge stand of white pine here, clearly planted many decades ago. I noticed a few side trails spoking off here and there, but they didn’t look like anything other than herd paths leading to nearby housing.
Approaching the western end of the property (nearing Old Country Road if you’re familiar with the area), The trail crests a rise, crosses an outlet stream, and then enters thicker woods on its way to the end.
Then it just ends.
I think making this a loop trail would be pretty simple, but would require some bridge building, so perhaps that’s why it hasn’t happened yet. It should though. Get on that Eagle Scout hopefuls of Windsor Locks!
The property is quite nice and there are quite a few specimen trees here. Water Works Brook is a bit of an oasis in an area that needed such a place. I want to thank all those involved, and *sniff* all the hard work they *sniff* do… and… I’m sorry… this never happens… It’s just so great to preserve these open spaces *sniff* and Ireallyjustappreciateitsomuch, thanks you *sniff*.