Canaan Mountain Natural Area Preserve

East Canaan, Canaan, Litchfield County, CT


Don't exactly know where this mountain and bog is.  Here's the directions a botanist gave me:

From Route 7, head out Rt. 44 east to a spot that heads south along the Blackberry River (I think you're in East Canaan by now) and follow the signs to the smelting facility. It's a park now. You then head east from the parking lot and head uphill, avoiding private drives, to a slag heap that always provides nice paperweights. From there, just continue up whichever hill you please, heading always up and generally east or south if you question it. It's a marble chunk of rock and has a peculiar bog near the summit.

Maybe this is what the botanist was talking about.  Heading east on Route 44, turn in at and go past the North Canaan Congregational church; following the Lower River Road around to the right, take a steep, short driveway on the left that leads down to the Beckley furnace on the shore of the Blackberry River.  Here, in addition to the furnace, is a scenic waterfall.  You can drive over the river to a parking area.   

In the 1930s, according to the WPA (1938:457), the Lower Road was an oiled dirt road.  1.3 miles off of Route 7 on the Lower Road, just across an iron bridge, was the 1770 home of iron master Squire Samuel Forbes.  Nearby was a forge he ran with partner Ethan Allen before he became a Revolutionary War hero.  At 2.0 miles stood the ruins of an old furnace and nearby the solitary, gray-white chimney of another deserted forge.  Across the stream were slag dumps that shone with a green, glassy brilliance after every rain.  And at 2.5 miles, came the old Congregational Church. 


Beckley Furnace


1847 -- East Canaan had one furnace, known as the Forbes Furnace. But another was needed to meet demand for iron. The great grandson of Esquire Samuel Forbes, John Adam Beckley, along with partner William Pierce, built a second furnace on the north side of the Blackberry River, 1,850 feet upstream from the Forbes Furnace. It was put into blast in 1847.

1856 -- Beckley Furnace renovated.

1857 -- furnace purchased by the Barnum Richardson Company of Lime Rock. Most of their pig iron was transported to the Lime Rock foundries.

1896 -- fire breaks out in the dry wood buildings that housed the Beckley Furnace. They decide to refurbish the furnace.

1898 -- furnace back in blast.

1915 --formed New England Slag Company to crush and screen the much accumulated slag to develop it for uses in concrete.

1918-19 -- a larger iron salamander jammed the hearth of the Beckley Furnace. Problem fixed but the furnace was less efficient and its days now numbered and it went out of blast in 1919.

1920s and 30s -- the bricks of the casting and blower houses at Beckley Furnace sold.

1925 -- the Salisbury Iron Corporation goes into receivership. It sold thousands of acres of land to the State of Connecticut for fifty cents an acre. Today this land comprises the majority of the Housatonic State Forest in Sharon, Housatonic Meadows State Park and state forests on Canaan Mountain and in Cornwall.

After the destruction of East Canaan Furnaces # 3 and #4, only #2, the Beckley Furnace remained.

1945 -- Charles Rufus Harte calls for saving the Beckley Furnace stack.

1946 -- the deed for the furnace turned over to Connecticut State.

Source: Kirby, 1998


swampy area, white pine forest, hemlock grove

Dry Oak Forests on Sand and Gravel: ~Dry Acidic Forests - poorly growing forests often dominated by oaks with various mixtures of pine, often with dwarf ericaceous shrubs. Includes dry oak forests on stratified sand and gravel. Includes Black oak (Quercus velutina) - Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) forests. Community examples: Black oak / Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) community Examples - Pachaug State Forest, Voluntown; Canaan Mountain Natural Area Preserve, Canaan, Hurd State Park, East Hampton Black oak / Blue ridge blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum) community Example - Meshomasic State Forest, Glastonbury    (Source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection: Connecticut's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy: Species and Habitat Lists


Just east of the parking area (across the bridge from the Beckley Furnace) is a woods road blocked to vehicles by a green metal gate. Head down this road heading south toward Canaan Mountain. You will be going mainly southwest between 200 and 220 degrees (with some bearing to the right, west). We choose our trail mainly on hugging on our right the stream west of Durning Brook. We tried to stay on the broadest path. There was a fork in the Road and we chose the 200 degree path (rather than the 160 degree path).

There are extra trails because of the considerable ATV activity in the area, which adds a little to the confusion. 

When definitely on the path to the top of the mountain, there was another fork and again we chose the one to the right, keeping in touch with the brook. The brook is pretty with lots of small cascades. Then all of a sudden the path dies out. My wife did not want to go on at this point, so I went ahead by myself to see if I could find the source of the stream. There does seem to be the remains of a woods path at times, but it is very overgrown in many places. Anyway, I finally gave up without reaching the origin of the brook.

From the botanist:

Did I mention a pond up there? More like a lake. There's several bogs, and CBS has visited Canaan Mtn several times in the past few years. The lake up there, Wangum, has also been the site of CBS excursions. The entire ridge is scattered with private properties that are locked in by state owned chunks of Housatonic State Forest. Add to that several properties that are controlled by Nature Conservancy (or maybe the local land trust?) and it makes for interesting walking. We go in from the furnace across the bridge, then go straight up past the slag deposits then head leftish for regular botanizing (great, actually, if you're into sedges and ferns). Grab your GPS and get to Wangum if you can - - be advised that if you tresspass a bit, if you duck and run, you'll probably be back on state property in 5 minutes - - you just need to worry if you're not wearing blaze orange and it's hunting season. The property to the east of Wangum Lake is Yale owned in part, and the other part is the Childs Preserve which is called Great Mountain, accessible from taking a road south of the center of Norfolk (rte 272), then heading west on Mountain Road, then turning south on Westside to a right-turn road that eventually takes you to the preserve headquarters where you can get permission. In that area, many of the access roads that are shown on local maps are now in fact no longer maintained and many are gated. I've driven through there, but I'd never try it again without an SUV, as the Jetta needed to be maneuvered nearly off-road to avoid some of the rocks pushed up by erosion. Tricky, but the locals can probably direct you. Heading down the Durning would take you in the wrong direction - - I think that goes to Bradford Peak but I've never been that route.


6/18/2006.  O.k. now I have the answer.  Rosemary, Cefe, Carl and I walked up to near the top of the mountain by Buckley Furnace.  It took us a while because it was hot and it was quite a ways up.  We made it all the way to the point where we were forced to turn around by no trespassing signs: Bridgeport Public Water Supply or something like that.

The walk is not really worth it.  There is one section near the top that is very pretty with lots of very green mosses on the cliffside.  There was some kind of limited view but through the trees.  But that is about it.  And the trail is very beaten up by all the ATVs.  There were many mud holes on the trails.  Gypsy moth caterpillars had eaten quite a few of the leaves so the trail was extra hot because of the lack of shelter in many areas along the trail.  You cannot reach Lake Wangum (which is marked by no trespassing signs anyway) via this route.   Dr. Patrick L. Cooney. 

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
February 24, 2002; * = blooming on date of second field trip, 6/18/2006

Acer negundo (box elder maple)
Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula papyrifera (white birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)  *
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Diervilla lonicera (bush honeysuckle)  *
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Osmorhiza longistylis (aniseroot)
Rhamnus frangula (European buckthorn)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Ribes sp. (gooseberry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)  *
Rubus odoratus (purple flowering raspberry)  *
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum alnifolium (hobblebush viburnum)

Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Actaea alba (white baneberry)
Actaea rubra (red baneberry)
Allium tricoccum (wild leek)  *soon
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Anemone sp. (anemone)  *
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Aralia racemosa (spikenard)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asarum canadense (wild ginger)
Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh)
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)  *
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Desmodium glutinosum (pointed-leaved tick trefoil)
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Erigeron pulchellus (robin's plantain)  *
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket)  *
Heuchera americana (common alum root)
Hieracium caespitosum (field hawkweed)  *
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumberroot)
Mitella diphylla (two-leaved mitrewort)
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Polygonatum biflorum (true Solomon's seal)
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)  *
Prenanthes sp. (lettuce)
Pyrola elliptica (shinleaf)  * soon
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved crowfoot) 
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan)  *
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Senecio sp. (ragwort)  *
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)  *
Trientalis borealis (starflower) 
Trifolium pratense (red clover)  *
Trillium sp. (trillium)
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)  *
Viola pubescens (yellow forest violet) 
Zizia aurea (golden Alexanders) 

Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex laxiflora type (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Elymus sp. (wild rye grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Lycopodium obscurum (ground pine clubmoss)
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

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