Outdoors

Peter Marteka: With foliage nearing its peak, head to Connecticut’s Culver Pond Nature Preserve

I was about to give up.

The old woods roads that serve as trails through the 118-acre Culver Pond Nature Preserve have become a bit overgrown since the Northern Connecticut Land Trust purchased the Stafford property in 2016 from the family of the late Culver Modisette, a former president of the group.

With my boots and pants soaked from the early morning dew dripping off the saplings that now call the road home, I could almost hear the high-pitched gravelly voice of Modisette in my mind. "Don't give up. Sometimes you have to work and explore a bit in order to see the beauty of Mother Nature."

I worked closely with Culver when he was president and hiked with him often as I wrote columns about the trust's success stories over the early 2000s. I always enjoyed our hikes together as we explored the wilds of northeast Connecticut. Soon after he passed, the trust purchased the property from his heirs, agreeing to a "bargain sale" to "avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest."

A bit of trailblazing aside, the parcel is a beautiful hike especially along the banks of Culver Pond, where Rockadundee Brook flows in and then out over an 18th century dam that was once home to a sawmill and gristmill. The forest has been a tree farm since the late 1970s, with some large white pines preserved and towering high above the surrounding woods in the north end of the property.

The best way to reach the pond is to follow the forest road from the parking area and across the brook and then take the woods road as it turns to the right. The road is fairly easy to follow, but there are places where it is overgrown. Just be patient, as the road soon opens up again. The road leads to the southern end of the pond that is home to otters, mink, fishers, beavers, and muskrats, according to the trust.

There is also a woods road that takes visitors around the northeastern portion of the preserve that borders a portion of the Shenipsit State Forest. Plan on an out-and-back hike, as the woods road back into the preserve can get a bit overgrown.

"We hope you will explore this beautiful addition to the region's open spaces and will pause in silent thanks to the Modisette family that preserved this property for our future enjoyment," the trust notes.

And thank Culver, who had a big impact on acquiring a large portion of the more than 1,700 acres the trust protects across northeastern Connecticut – including his beloved Culver Pond and the surrounding woods. You may have to work a bit to see the beauty that surrounds you, but don't give up.

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