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Sunny Valley is located in Bridgewater and New Milford and is part of the Nature Conservancy.  BerkshireHiking.com recognizes the importance of the Conservancy as a crucial means to protect some of America's "last great places".  Visit their web site www.nature.org to learn more about their efforts and then come back here to visit one of the treasures they helped set aside here in Connecticut...Sunny Valley Preserve. The open field hike in New Milford is worth the trip alone and really fascinating because it's right in the middle of built up Route 7 congestion but somehow closes that whole world off.  The following text was taken directly from the Nature Conservancy web site in describing Sunny Valley Preserve. It's the perfect place to bring young children as they have barns and farm animals as well as a nice open field for them to see all sorts of birds and insects.

(Open Farm Day is October 9th which usually brings in a lot of children each year...a great way to introduce children to nature.)

 "Sunny Valley Preserve consists of 1,850 acres of farmland, forests, wetlands, and meadows on 19 parcels of land in New Milford and Bridgewater, Connecticut.  Originally donated to The Nature Conservancy by the late George D. Pratt Jr. of Bridgewater in a series of transfers from 1973 to 1979, the preserve today is operated by Conservancy staff and several tenant farmers.

 About 600 acres of the preserve are in active agriculture. Recreational hiking trails and observation sites are open to visitors, helping promote public awareness and understanding of nature, land management, and environmentally compatible farming.  Sunny Valley's variety of topography, geology, and natural habitats support diverse wildlife and biological communities."

The preserve's grasslands and a wide range of vegetation also provide habitat for such species as the eastern meadowlark, bobolink, American kestrel, and Cooper's hawk, which are known to be declining in the Northeast.  To help manage these areas for such species, the Conservancy has initiated surveys to develop an inventory of the preserve's wildlife and plants.

Sunny Valley's farmland and farm operations remain a focal point of community interest.  The Nature Conservancy has returned the preserve's three primary farms to productive agriculture by leasing them to farmers after making significant capital improvements.  This investment has paid off with increased local interest in the preserve and support for The Nature Conservancy.

Sunny Valley has an annual event in October called Open Farm Day. It's open to the public so visit their website and call for details. http://nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/connecticut/preserves/art5762.html

Directions: The New Milford trail can be accessed via Sunny Valley Road. Sunny Valley Road is off of Route 7 in New Milford where Arby's Restaurant and the new Staples are located. Just follow Sunny Valley Road to the farm and park in the little dirt cutout next to the open field. Trail maps are easily accessed.

Rocky Hill Trail System entrance in Bridgewater can be accessed by following these directions:  From the junction of CT routes 67 and 133 in Bridgewater, go south CT 133 about .7 mile then turn right on Hat Shop Road.  After .6 mile, bare left then right on Hemlock Rd. for 1.6 miles to the end of the pavement.  Go on for .2 mile to the small parking lot at left just before the Rocky Hill Trail System entrance.

The main trail loop is tree miles in total distance and can be completed in two hours.  It's fairly level terrain and shouldn't present any difficulties to anyone in "walking" shape. The trail, which is marked by white paint, starts at the sign "Silica Mine Hill" in the rear right corner of the parking area.  Follow the trail to enjoy a glacial pond, white hemlock forest, and a nice view overlooking the valley.  At Sunny Valley Preserve there is a whole world to be discovered at your own pace.

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