"In the woods is perpetual youth" - Emerson

GUIDED HIKES: 1-2 north of NYC, 2-3 hours west of Boston (click here)

Cathedral Pines - Cornwall, CT.

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  Suggest a hike

Difficulty: Easy or Moderate

Main Attractions: Tall trees, old growth forest, scenic trails, unique ecosystem.

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Nearby Hikes:
Mohawk State Park
A.T. Riverwalk
Breadloaf Mountain
Pine Knob Loop

Cathedral Pines (If you know of updates to this hike please pass them along. It doesn't see many people and therefore the trail is overgrown and the information presented here could be outdated.)
This interesting hike offers forty-two acres of white pines, hemlocks, and northern hardwoods.  The Cathedral Pines, as they are known, create a tall ceiling effect as you walk the path.  (Unfortunately, a tornado ripped through this very patch of land in 1989 and did severe damage to the trees.  However, some of the trees survived and you can still be awed by their size and beauty.  In fact, part of the intrigue from this hike comes from the aftermath of the tornado which can still be seen today)  It doesn't take much to imagine what it must have been like before logging and nature took its toll.  Most of the white pines are 200 years old with some being at least 300 hundred years. It's unusual to see a white pine stand in this part of Connecticut.  The area was set aside and eventually donated by the Calhoun family who were the original landowners of the small parcel of forest. Scientists are not quite sure how the stand came to be.  For the hiker, the only thing you really need to know is that these are very tall, elegant trees.  It's a very different hike than what is normally experienced in Connecticut.  This is one of those trails that not a lot of people don't know about but offers some of the most unique hiking experience in the Berkshires.  It's easy to get to and easy to explore.

The white pines seen here have an interesting history behind them.  Because of their tremendous size and straight height, the pines were logged for unique projects.  A contractor in the 1950's was looking for a stand of slender white pines over one hundred feet in height, a maximum of eighteen inches in diameter at the base, and a minimum of nine inches at the tip.  Cathedral Pines fit the bill.  The contractor brought a team of Oneida Indians to log the pines.  They cut the pines so precisely that each one fell gently on the next one until all of them lay softly on the ground.  It was done in such a way that a tiny saw-whet owl was found unharmed in one of the pines.  These pines were logged out of the region and used as pilings to support both the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River and Israel's Tel Aviv airport.

Directions: At the intersection of Route 4 and Route 7 in Cornwall (if you come upon Cornwall Bridge you've gone a couple miles to far.) take Rt. 4 north. After a few minutes you'll take a right onto Rt. 125 into the village of Cornwall.  The road ends and faces Coltsfoot Valley.  Take a left onto Valley Rd. When Valley Rd. starts to bend to the right after a short distance, bear left onto Essex Hill Rd. and after about 0.2 miles you'll see dirt/grass cutout on your left hand side. The sign that reads, "Cathedral Pines" can be seen although slightly hidden by overgrowth.  The trail head is to the right of the sign and to the left of the sign is a short path that leads to a large rock with a plaque on it.

(The second paragraph text about the history of the pines was copied from a source that I cannot recall...if you wrote some of this please contact me and I will certainly credit you for the interesting historical background you provided concerning Cathedral Pines!)

Printable version of the Cathedral Pines page

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