By Paul Lonardo
“Believe one who knows; you will find something greater in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” – St. Bernard de Clairvaux
Getting to Connors Farm Conservation Area is easy enough. Heading north on Pleasant View Avenue from Greenville, you get onto Swan Road and take a right on Mann School Street. Connors Farm Road is your first left. You will find yourself in a beautiful residential neighborhood, but don’t worry, you’re in the right place. The entrance to the conservation area is between 20 and 24 Connors Farm Drive. You will see a small grassy parking lane with a sign announcing your arrival. With limited spots, you may also park in the street, just be considerate to the residents.
Before entering the conservation area, you will find a color map of the trails highlighting its features. Take note because this is a somewhat expansive area, which you will need some time to get through to fully enjoy. Once part of a family farm, this 66-acre tract of land is all forest with some rugged terrain, steep slopes and jagged peaks formed from boulders deposited there by glaciers millennia ago. So plan ahead, bringing plenty to drink and something to eat, as this one will not be a simple walk in the woods. There are ponds and marshy areas, so it would also be wise to take along some insect repellent, especially if you make your trek during these warmer months.
The journey into the Connors Farm Conservation Area begins as you enter an elongated trail marked in red. It extends nearly two miles, and contains a running brook, an old stone bridge, and two old dams built for a wild cranberry bog. The Boy Scouts were credited with blazing the trail in 1994. The wetlands are home to a variety of aquatic animals, such as frogs, turtles and ducks. Among the underbrush and between the stand of oak trees and beech groves you will likely spot a variety of songbirds as well as land animals including chipmunks, squirrels, and even fox and deer. Along the route you will find several wooden birdhouses on metal poles.
The elevation changes quickly, so expect some strenuous walk/climbing up a heavily rooted and stone-choked path that ascends quite steeply in places and in other places narrows considerably due to encroaching groundcover. Butterflies, bees and dragonflies abound among the wildflowers and other flora.
The trail is clearly marked, with trees stamped periodically in red paint, but for adventurers with extra time, you can stray down a couple other marked trails, yellow and blue, which diverge from the red trail.
The M-shaped blue trail climbs to an even higher elevation, providing a view of a spectacularly long stone wall and taking hikers past some small caves among the rock formations, which are fun to explore. This path connects to a large circular yellow trail, which you can follow taking either a longer route north toward Burlingame Road or a shorter route south before joining back up with the red trail. At every trail intersection you will find a map clearly stipulating your position with a YOU ARE HERE arrow. But there is plenty to keep either a beginner or an experienced hiker occupied on the main trail.
You get a genuine sense of being off the grid no matter where you are in the Connors Farm Conservation Area. Whether alone or in a group, there is a quiet serenity for which you can’t help but feel a humble submission and respect. Making a visit to Connors Farm Conservation Area this time of the year has one other advantage, coming in the form of a possible prize with the discovery of one of our specially painted rocks, which will be left only along the red trail.
Good Luck to all.