"In the woods is perpetual youth" - Emerson

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

Saugatuck Reservoir Trails

Difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Strenuous

Main Attractions: Excellent trail system, woodlands, open fields, overviews, large ponds, bogs, birdwatching.

10 day forecast

Nearby Hikes:
Saugatuck Falls Natural Area
Huntington Park

Saugatuck Reservoir is part of the largest protected land preserve in southwestern Connecticut. Dozens of miles of trails take you through beautiful woodlands, along shorelines, through open fields, up rocky mountainsides with great views, and passed some interesting wetlands. Bobcat, lynx, coyote, fox, deer, turkey, beaver, hawks, eagles, falcons, possibly black bear, and an occasional moose habituate this area (though some of these guys are so secretive you're not likely to ever see them). Watch out for the goshawks during the summer months...they are extremely protective of their new borns and can become highly aggressive! Some trails even have signs posted warning hikers to avoid sections altogether for their own safety. If you see one of those signs, don't laugh it off. Goshawks have razor sharp claws and have perfected the dive bombing technique. Remember, these signs are there to protect you, not the goshawk!

  • This feedback from a hiker should drill the point home that the goshawk threat is no joke:   I wish to report an attacking goshawk on the Saugatuck trail this morning 5/3. there were no signs posted and it was quite close to the trail head near Rte. 53 on the reservoir. It was a scary experience being buzzed by a large hawk.

The former Bridgeport Hydraulic Company (now called Aquarion Water Company), The Nature Conservancy, Aspetuck Land Trust, and other smaller groups have worked in conjunction with each other to pull off one of the greatest land preservation acts in the history of the state. Connecticut governor Jodi Rell announced the designation of the Centennial Watershed State Forest, of which Saugatuck Reservoir is a part of. Real estate developers must have cried and pounded their fists once they learned this land would never be developed. It's an amazing accomplishment given that developers have been tearing up beautiful spots and throwing up sub-divisions and condos at an astounding rate...usually with total disregard to the environment. Consider the fact that million dollar homes have become the near norm in this part of the state and it's not hard to imagine that a handful of folks could have made an obscene amount of cash. See how much of the state developers have bagged. This map illustrates in great detail how much humankind dominates this part of the state. Pretty scary. (Photo is courtesy of The Nature Conservancy)  They may have taken most of it but at least there are a few great spots that are forever safe due to the intelligence and determination of a few great people who understand that preserving certain natural spots is simply priceless. (Thank you to anyone responsible for making all of this possible!)

Saugatuck and Aspetuck Reservoirs reside in the towns of Easton, Redding and Weston and the watershed created by these two bodies of water provide interesting ecosystems for the curious hiker. Though not well known to the general public, the protected parcels of land surrounding Saugatuck Reservoir are some of the most pristine and uninterrupted anywhere. Saugatuck Reservoir Trails is maintained by Connecticut Forest and Park Association. The trails are blue blazed. In order to hike here, you must contact Aquarion Water Company and have them send you a free map of the trail system which also doubles as your hiking permit. www.aquarion.com  203-452-3511. You can also grab a map at the Mark Twain Library (www.marktwainlibrary.org) in Redding on Rt. 53, which is half mile north of Rt. 107. Tom Ebersold also pointed out that you can pick up a copy of "The Book of Trails IV" for $10 at the library. The book has info and maps on all Redding trails.

Saugatuck Reservoir Trails borders "The Den" from The Nature Conservancy and Trout Brook Valley. Trout Brook Valley is managed by the Aspetuck Land Trust (www.aspetucklandtrust.org). Combined, you have one of the best hiking spots in all of southern New England...right smack in the center of the most congested part of Connecticut. It's easy to get to, with trails well maintained and clearly marked. For those willing to venture in a variety of terrain exists. Just don't forget to get your free map which also acts as your hiking permit.

Printable version of the Saugatuck Trails page

Directions: There are so many choices in this region that picking one place to enter or recommend doesn't really make sense. Also in order to hike in this region you will need to contact the Aquarion Water Company (formerly known as Bridgeport Hydraulic Company and have them mail you a free map - or pick up a copy at the Mark Twain Library. The map also acts as a permit allowing you (and your group of hikers if more than one) to legally hike along the trail system here. This preserve surrounds the reservoir which provides drinking water to many residents. Remember that after the events of September 11th, homeland security is taken very seriously by federal and state authorities. Places like Saugatuck Reservoir are regularly patrolled by park officials and authorities, especially along the shoreline. So order the free map and put it in your pocket when you hike around here.

The best place to park for the Saugatuck Trails is the gravel parking lot at the corner of Rt. 53 and Valley Forge Road, which is 3.5 miles north of Weston Center. Take the Merritt Pkwy. to Exit 42 and head north on Rt. 57. In Weston Center, take Rt. 53 N. The parking lot will be on the right. To access the trail, walk down the hill on Valley Forge Road for 0.15 miles. The trailheads will be on the left to head north (the more scenic trail with great reservoir views) or the right to head south.

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