Steep Rock Reservation
Tunnel Road, Washington Depot, town of Washington, Litchfield County, CT


Saw Mill River Parkway north to US 684 north to US 84 east; exit 7 for Route 7 north (set the odometer at 0); at 11.8 miles turn right onto US 202/Bridge Street in New Milford; turn right onto Route 109 north;  drive 5.7 miles to a right turn onto Route 47 south; drive the short distance into the town; from the town hall area drive 1.0 mile to a right turn onto Route 199; drive 1.0 mile to a right turn onto the dirt and gravel Spring Hill Road; drive down to the Shepaug River and park along Tunnel Road. 

Coming from Washington north, the parking area is 1.1 miles north of the Hickory Stick Bookshop near the junction of Routes 47 and 109.


One of the heroes of Washington, CT is Frederick Gunn. He started a school (the Gunnery School), founded the local amateur dramatic association and the Washington Literary Association (now the Gunn Memorial Library), and temperance organizations.

Ehrick Rossiter, one of Frederick Gunn's students, returned here to design over 20 public and private buildings. He also saved the property that is now Steep Rock Reservation for all of us.

The Gunn Historical Museum is located at 5 Wykeham Road, Washington, CT.

1889 (spring) – architect Ehrick Rossiter purchased 100 acres that today are the heart of the Steep Rock reservation.

During his 36 years of ownership, Rossiter built carriage roads and small river crossings and invited his friends and fellow townspeople to enjoy the wild beauty of this section of the Shepaug River Valley.

1925  --  the Steep Rock Association was founded by Ehrick Rossiter by a gift of land overlooking the "Clam Shell" area to a group of trustees.  Its Certificate of Incorporation says:

"To accept, receive, acquire, hold, manage, maintain, preserve, and improve land and real property in the town of Washington. . . . for the use and enjoyment thereof by the residents of the town of Washington and adjacent towns of Litchfield County and by the general public, as a park or parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and recreational areas, be they adjacent to Steep Rock, so called, or separate from it."

1929 – the trustees purchased the area known as the Clam Shell, thereby preserving the view from Steep Rock.

Since then, many landowners have given additional tracts to the Steep Rock Association.

1941 – death of Ehrick Rossiter.

1953 – the trustees invited 81 Steep Rock contributors to a picnic at the Clam Shell. Subsequent picnics included the whole town.

1955 – the Great Flood wiped out parts of the Depot and bridges and abutments along the Shepaug River.

1961 – Steep Rock was formally incorporated as a land trust.

1974 – trustees accepted a non-contiguous piece of land on Church Hill, expanding Steep Rock's role to preserving land throughout Washington.

1982 – the McDonald family donated a conservation easement of land on Lower Church Hill, the association’s first such easement.

1985 – the Trustees hired their first director, shared with the Roxbury Land Trust.

1991 – the Hauser footbridge, a wood and cable suspension bridge, built in the Steep Rock reservation across the river just downstream of the old sawmill hole.



815/2005.  Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I parked along Tunnel Road (that was blocked off in the park due to the drought conditions).  This was the first nice day in a while because we have had a heat wave lately. 

We walked along the Shepaug River (shallow and rocky) on dirt Tunnel Road up to the picnic and grill area by the river.  There is a plaque on a rock there: "In loving memory of Jack Dyer 1961-1997". 

The river was so shallow that I could have easily walked across it with my boots.  It also made for easy access to some islands of vegetation in the river bank.  It seems to be a pretty popular place.  There were quite a few horse riders on the trail along with some walkers.  No wonder, since the walking area is very flat and very scenic.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = blooming on 8/15/2005

Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus strobus (white pine) grove of it
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Quercus alba (white oak )
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)  lots
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Alnus sp. (alder)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Cornus amomum (swamp hazel)
Corylus sp. (hazel)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Gaultheria procumbens (checkerberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Philadelphus sp. (mock orange)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Salix sp. (willow)
Vaccinium angustifolium (low-bush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Apios americana (groundnut)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder)     *
Echinocystis lobata (wild cucumber vine)     *
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury)
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)     *
Actaea alba (white baneberry)
Agrimonia gryposepala (common agrimony)     *
Alisma subcordatum (southern water plantain)     *
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)      *
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Aralia racemosa (spikenard)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster spp. (aster)  
Bidens frondosa (beggar tick)
Bidens spp. (beggar tick)
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)     *
Cardamine impatiens (narrow-leaved bittercress)
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)     *
Conium maculatum (water hemlock)     *
Desmodium canadense (showy tick trefoil)     *
Epifagus virginiana (beech drops)
Epilobium purpureum (purple-leaved willowherb)    *
Eupatorium fistulosum (trumpetweed)     *
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)     *
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Galinsoga sp. (gallant soldiers)     *
Geum canadense (white avens)        
Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)     *
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket)
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed)     *
Hieracium spp. (hawkweed)  could not identify them because of the yellow jacket nest nearby
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)     *
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Lapsana communis (nipplewort)     *
Lindernia dubia (false pimpernel)     *
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)     *
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Lythrum palustris (water purslane)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)     *
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medeola virginiana (wild cucumberroot)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover)     *
Mentha arvensis (wild mint)     *
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower)     *
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Myosotis scorpioides (forget-me-not)     *
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)     *
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)     *
Penthorum sedoides (ditch stonecrop)     *
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed)     *
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)     *
Polygonum pensylvanicum (Pennsylvania smartweed)     *
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)     *
Pyrola rotundifolia (round-leaved pyrola)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sagittaria latifolia (arrowhead)     *
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)     *
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade)     *
Solidago flexicaulis (zig-zag goldenrod)
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod)     *
Stellaria pubera (star chickweed)     *
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)
Trifolium pratense (red clover)     *
Trifolium repens (white clover)     *
Trillium sp. (trillium)
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Urtica dioica var. dioica (stinging nettle)    *
Urtica dioica var. procera (tall nettle)     *
Viola spp. (violet)
(orchid) pink lady's slipper? 
(tall coneflower)     *

Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (umbrella sedge)
Eleocharis sp. (spikerush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Echinochloa sp. (barnyard grass)
Elymus hystrix (bottle-brush grass)
Elymus sp. (wild rye grass)
Leersia oryzoides (rice-cut grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Equisetum hyemale (scouring rush)
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Athyrium thelypteroides (silvery glade fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)

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