I've frequented the woodland trails of southeastern Connecticut for many years and become proficient at researching new walking opportunities. Despite all my searches, I have never found any single source for a complete list of woodland walks. After all, open spaces have many owners, including state, municipalities, land trusts, and more. It would be great if they all collaborated on trail guides, but they don't.
Kip Bergstrom of Old Saybrook had not found such a list either when he started walking the river and shoreline region in 2021, but he didn’t need one. He is one of those "super-walkers," someone who had long ago bagged all 825 miles of the state’s blue trail system and much more.
“When I started this current group of walks, I was simply looking for open space where I could walk to a view of the Connecticut River, south of Middletown,” he says.
The quest eventually led to a surprising discovery: There are 280 walkable open spaces from Branford to Stonington and in the towns north of them. As of this writing, Bergstrom has walked 223 and hopes to finish all 280 by spring 2023.
Does he have favorites? “There are a lot of great places,” he says, “but Selden Ledge Preserve in Lyme and Sheep’s Ledge at Old Lyme’s Ames Open Space are high on my list. Based on what is known, they represent landscapes that seem little changed from pre-European times.”
Immersed in the woodland environment, he started saving photos, writing his observations, and compiling a book that will cover all 280 open spaces across this area, which geologists often label as "Connecticut Avalonia."
The working title of the book, Walking Avalonia, Part 1: Connecticut, tips off his bigger plan. Bergstrom hopes to write Part 2 and more as he walks the rest of Avalonia--throughout New England, the Canadian maritime provinces, and northern Europe.
Learn more about Kip Bergstrom's journeys at Zip06/TheDay.