(Use this page to print out the hike. Click the back button to go back to the webpage - www.berkshirehiking.com)
Greenwich Audubon Center is located off of Route 433 in Greenwich, CT in a residential but rural part of town. The large parcel of land that makes up the center provides a great escape from the hustle and bustle of lower Fairfield County and even folks from very rural sections would be impressed with the peace and tranquility offered here. Greenwich Audubon Center provides the perfect habitat for birds and small animals and the design of the trails and various viewing areas make it easy for you to encounter these creatures. This place exists because of the generosity and hard work of certain individuals. It's a great place to bring young children as there are many activies, a small museum/bookstore, and the trail system has educational elements. I happened to hike on December 4th with near record breaking temperatures (64 degrees) and actually had to take off a sweatshirt because I was getting too hot...not bad for December! The warm summer day allowed me to criss cross and navigate nearly the entire trail system and along the way I encountered some great scenery and lively performances from the local "residents".
The trail system here is straightforward and easy to traverse. There is a large loop with connecting trails that branch out in various directions. The trails will take you through the woods, to swampy areas, around a lake, through an open meadow, over streams, and across some rocky terrain. All hikers will easily notice clear plastic tubing with pieces of paper in them. These have educational literature in them and the clear plastic keeps the info clean and dry in addition to making it easy to read what's inside. Stop and read these interesting tidbits as they are sure to educate you about the environment you're experiencing. You'll get a little history on stonewalls, what type of tree you're gawking at, or the types of animals you may be seeing.
The workers and volunteers at the Audubon Center have built footbridges and viewing stations at various points which allow you to get up close and personal. Along the eastern side of the Mead Lake loop I stopped in at a spot called Birdland and climbed up a viewing station. Inside here you're hidden from the birds and animals and no sooner did I sit down and look out the open window, I saw four wood ducks cooly paddling along the stream. It was like being in a small movie theater as the four cruised along the twists and turns of the stream...all I needed was some classical music to really set the scene.
After climbing down the viewing station I hiked through the woods and up into a meadow. There are a couple of houses and a main road on the far side of this trail as it loops back to the station which may or may not take away from you're feeling of solitude. But the solitude is broken for only a short bit and I actually experienced the best part of my hike in this section. As I made my way back to the Center I took a short walk up a side trail to photograph some pine trees. In the woods I heard quite a racket and looked to see what I thought was a couple of dogs with their owner. Further investigation through the treeline revealed what was really going on. A group of at least 30 wild turkeys were making there way up a densely wooded hillside and rummaging through the leaves for nuts dropped from trees. I personally had never seen quite that many together and there could have been up to 50 in all! I watched them for a few minutes and enjoyed seeing how they interacted in such a large group. (Wild turkeys have always reminded me of prehistoric creatures and I have a healthy respect for them since being harrassed by a large tom years ago...yes, that's embarrasing to admit :) Believe me...these are not the knuckleheads they're portrayed to be in cartoons or on tv. Their reflexes are ten times faster than ours and the some toms can stand four feet and weigh 70 pounds.) Because they were heading over a small hill I decided to head up the path and meet them as they descended the other side. I must have gotten to the other side before they did and as I walked up a small side trail to where I thought the turkeys might be, a buck and two does eating in the tall grass were startled by my presence which also startled me because I had no idea they were ten feet away from me. They bounded off into the woods and were gone in an instant and the buck actually huffed at me before he ran for cover. I was left with my camera on my way up to my eye with that "oh, I almost got a great shot!" look on my face. I had also back pedaled about 20 steps into the tall grass as the buck bounded away and it wasn't until I calmed down a bit that I realized I was standing right next to three man-made beehives! The honey bees had been all stirred up by the does and I found myself standing five feet away from a swarming mass. Thankfully, they were too busy producing honey to waste their time attacking me...
The Audubon Center here may not be huge or give you the feeling that you're in the middle of nowhere,
but you'll definitely enjoy the fresh air and tranquility offered.
And if you're a bird lover, you'll be in heaven.
Given the fact that the Center is situated in one of the most expensive real estate areas in the world and that the skyline of Manhattan could be easily seen if a vantage point of a few hundred feet could be accessed,
you can't ask for much more than what Greenwhich Aububon Center has to offer.
It's a great place to hike.