23 6 / 2012
It’s quite difficult, here at CT A to Z, to avoid covering the same ground that Steve Wood covers on his excellent blog, the CT Museum Quest. Unfortunately, I only wandered into his incredibly informative, methodical and perhaps a little obsessive world when I was well into the A to Z mission, looking for websites on Beckley Furnace. Since then he’s provided plenty of guidance, and more than a little inspiration, but his list of State Parks is not yet complete, which leaves some room for me. This time, however, I am warning you that I have tried incredibly hard to think of different ways to spin Campbell Falls and tread new ground, but dear readers, I’m not sure I’ve done too well.
Because the thing about Campbell Falls is that while it’s actually ended up containing one of the prettiest sights we’ve seen yet here on CT A to Z, it has two main features that warrant a mention. The first is that it’s very small. The second is that the Falls themselves, for all their beauty, actually lie about a minute’s walk across the stateline into Massachusetts. In fact, special laws were written by the two states in the 1920s to ensure it would be properly maintained and protected. And there’s no way anyone’s going to let you forget that, as the way in is strewn with imposing looking concrete posts. Unfortunately the most picturesque post has been tagged by the local hooligans on the CT side, so here it is on the way back out of Massachusetts as you depart the falls.
So yes readers. Today CT A to Z stepped firmly onto foreign soil. And it was good! But before we reached there, there was a very short 0.37 mile walk from the car park off Spaulding Road (Tobey Hill Road on the DEP map, but not according to google) through some delicious open forest which was heavily cut to pieces by streams rolling down the hillside. The severe path the water has taken down the hills highlights another fact about this little walk – it may be short, but in places it’s pretty steep, although the path is well maintained and not at all scrambly.
There’s the usual mixture of open hemlock type stuff and more scrappy deciduous woods, and a few grand old trees of interesting shapes, including this one, which starts at one trunk and splits into four.
After the short walk you hit the closer car park, and then there’s a steep descent down to the falls itself. You can hear them from the car park, where our worries about a potential lack of water were quickly put to rest. What followed soon after was the voices – while this may once have been an undiscovered corner, the northernmost state park in CT, it no longer is. There was a group of friends enjoying a dip in the lower pool, while two older men attempted to impress their other halves by finding hand holds on the steep rock abutting the water channel.
And then of course, there’s the noise of the Falls themselves. The Whiting River drop for 30 to 40 metres through a steep cutting in a fold of granitic Gneiss that is found throughout the park, and cascade into a couple of pools before bubbling more serenely south, towards Connecticut. At this time of year you can scramble pretty easily up to the higher pool, and really examine the smaller rock folds that line the edges of the channel. I imagine you’d get rather wet attempting this in the spring!
We didn’t fancy hanging around too long, as all the good sunspots were taken, but the Falls are well worth a trip in themselves. If you visit before August 4th(2012), then take in lunch at The Green Room café in Winsted afterwards. We dropped in as usual on our way home, only to add a little sadness to our day by finding that they will be shutting down in another month’s time. This is a huge disappointment – we’ve yet to find another café in CT that does such a good job of using simple, fresh natural flavours to great effect (recommendations always accepted – leave us a comment below!). They’ve been a big motivating factor in our regular drive from New Haven up Route 8, and they will be very sorely missed. They’re hoping to start a food truck after this venture, so we’ll keep you posted on what happens next. After another delicious lunch (tomato and mozzarella sandwich with homemade bread and balsamic pesto – nom!) we rounded out the day with a visit to Action Wildlife in Goshen, to be recommended if you’re a big kid at heart, and ice cream at Peaches N’ Cream in Litchfield. The chocolate mousse flavor was divine.
We finally feel like we’re getting the hang of this Connecticut thing! And thank to Steve for making that just a little easier for us.