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Emily Griffith Beardsley Preserve is a great find for those who looking for thick forest cover and secluded woodlands. The start of the hike is deceiving as the trail skirts between two residential lawns before heading into the woods. If not for the clearly marked sign signifying the entrance, you'd never know a nice jewel of a hike is present here. There's a peaceful hike awaiting a trekker with a nice cascading stream that at one point flows through a small but very picturesque gorge.
The preserve is part of Roxbury's Land Trust and like all property associated with Roxbury's Land Trust, the trail system is extremely well maintained. Like a lot of the hikes in this part of Connecticut (Southbury, Woodbury, Bridgewater) the trails aren't extremely challenging or great distances like the more challenging mountains of the northwest corner, but they all are really nice hikes. And many of them have remnants of colonial history in their midst...an old sawmill once cranked away at the gorge part of Griffith Beardsley Preserve. It's very su prising to pull off a main road (Route 109) in the middle of a neighborhood, hop out of your car, and within a few minutes find yourself in another world. And because Roxbury is not overpopulated with "suburb invasion" like a lot of surrounding towns, it's very easy to find yourself deep in the woods with nothing but the sounds of nature or an occasional overhead plane to be heard.
The tall pines that greet you and the cascading river that tumbles down the hillside provide a rain forest type feeling at certain times. The small gorge is a nice su prise and although not huge in size it still captures the imagination. Be careful as you walk up to see the gorge as there are no signs warning you of the drop off which is obviously dangerous if you're not exercising caution and common sense. After taking a few minutes to check out the gorge make your way up to the footbridge that was built by a local Boy Scout chapter. At this point you have a choice. Stay with the blue trail loop or go over the bridge and take the red trail loop. The red trail rises up the hill and takes you through deep woodlands. (The large wooden map at the beginning of Emily Griffith says there's a lookout at the highest point of the red trail but it appears to be outdated. Maybe out one time there was but trees and forest growth have probably taken over at the spot and there isn't an overlook that we are aware of at this time. Please let us know if we are wrong about this.) But the red trail is a nice excursion and will also afford you a nice look of the gorge and stream for the other side. The blue trails loops around the other portion of the preserve and is primarily heavy forest cover which makes for some peaceful hiking. It's relatively flat in relation to the red trail.
All in all, Emily Griffith Beardsley Preserve offers a great forest hike with a nice cascading stream to highlight your experience here. If you like peace and quiet and tall forest feeling then you should make tracks for Emily Griffith Beardsley Preserve. (For the cascading stream and gorge area it's best if you can go after a recent rain as the stream probably is minimal during very dry times.)
Directions: Emily Griffith is located Route 109, 0.6 miles up the road from the Route 67 and Route 109 intersection at Roxbury center. Whether you're coming east from the Bridgewater/New Milford region, or traveling west from the Southbury/Woodbury area, you'll need to take Route 67 into the center of Roxbury. For those traveling east from Bridgewater/New Milford the Route 67 and 109 intersection will be just before you get to the town's center. If traveling west from the Southbury/Woodbury region, the intersection will be about a 1/4 of a mile up from the village market and post office building in the center of town.
At the 67/109 intersection, you see a sign for the Indian museum which is another marker to look for to get on Route 109. Take Route 109 and head up the road 0.6 miles. Drive slowly here as it would be easy to drive by the entrance to Emily Griffith Preserve. On your right hand side you'll notice a large wooden sign signifying the entrance. Park in the grassy area within the provided space. On your left will be a large residential home and on your right is a large fenced in field with horses. Walk straight into the woods and the trail will be obvious. For a few hundred yards the trail comes up close to a couple of homes. Just stay straight and within few short minutes the world you started in will soon fade away and you'll on your way to a nice forest hike.
© Berkshire Hiking 2004