William E. Wolfe Park
285 Cutlers Farm Road (includes Great Hollow Lake at 454 Purdy Hill Road), Monroe, Fairfield County, CT
309 acres

No Dogs. 

Parking permit required from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  But, at least on the east side, there is a parking area a little farther away for non-permit holders.


East side  entrance:

Merritt Parkway (Route 15) north; get off at Exit 48; turn left onto Route 111; (about 3.0 miles up is the Corner Deli which is pretty good or 6.0 miles up is a McDonald's); a little ways north of McDonalds, make a left turn onto Elm Street; drive one block up and turn left onto Cross Hill Road; follow to the T-intersection; turn right and then a quick left into the entrance.  (This entrance is more a sports entrance.)

For the more popular spot (west side):

Merritt Parkway (Route 15) north; get off at Exit 48; turn left onto Route 111; (about 3.0 miles up is the Corner Deli which is pretty good or 6.0 miles up is a McDonald's); a little ways before reaching McDonalds, turn left onto Purdy Hill Road;  0.7 of a mile north of the intersection of Purdy Hill Road and Cutlers Farm Road, turn right onto Silverstone Drive.  The entrance is straight ahead.  On this side is the popular Great Hollow Lake. 


8 tennis courts (4 lighted)
2 basketball courts, 7 ball fields, 4 soccer fields
outdoor 25 meter swimming pool, hiking trails, picnic areas for groups and families
16 acre lake for swimming (700 ft. beach), fishing, and non-motorized boating.
3 playgrounds


1840  --  The Housatonic Rail Bed originated as the Berkshire Railroad linking Bridgeport and New Milford.

It was later purchased by the Housatonic Railroad.

And still later it became part of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

1962  -- the rail line was abandoned.


The Housatonic Rail Trail runs from Trumbull in the South up to the Botsford section of Newtown in the North.

Located along the path of an abandoned rail line, this recreational trail will eventually extend from Bridgeport through Trumbull and Monroe to the Newtown line.


Starting from Wolfe Park 

(Modified from http://www.geocities.com/[email protected]/housatonic_rail_trail_north_letterbox.htm)

see map: http://www.geocities.com/[email protected]/housatonic_rail_trail_north_map.PDF


The trail begins just off the entrance road to your left at the brown gate past the first parking lot. The entrance road is part of the Housatonic Trail as it heads South, on-road.  At the beginning of the trail are some benches that overlook the beach at Great Hollow Lake in the park. Mileage markers dot the trail, but start just past the gate house along the road. This section of the trail is well maintained with a wide hard  packed surface.

After you pass by the 1.1 mile post on your left, you then enter the Wind Gap, a railroad cut through a 150 foot deep pass between two hills lined with steep slopes and ledges. You emerge into an open area and pass by a bench on your left. Just past this bench at the 1 mile point will be a path that crosses the trail. Take the left path as it runs along a stone wall for 10 paces (1 pace = 2 steps). A Maple tree on your right will be reaching out over the stone wall to grab your attention. At the base of the tree, directly underneath the overhanging limb will be a flat rock on top of the stone wall.

Continuing along the trail  for another 1/2 mile, you pass through a marshy area and cross over Cutlers Farm Road to a parking lot.

You may continue Northward by crossing over Pepper street at the cross walk.

Another 1/2 mile will bring you to a detour, where houses have been built on the original rail bed. There is a nice stone arched bridge here. The 0.6 of a mile detour is on-road and not recommended for kids. You follow the trail right out to a cul-de-sac and follow this up to Pepper street. Note that there are arrows on the road showing the way, as well as bike route signs. Use the cross walk and turn left along Pepper street. There is a bike lane marked along the road. Another cross walk guides you back over Pepper street and onto the trail on your left. You ascend a small hill and turn right back on the original rail trail.

The maintained trail ends at the Newtown town border after 2 miles from the start of the detour. You may continue onward, but the trail is narrow and rough in parts. You head down a straight, but relatively smooth path for 0.3 of a mile. The original tracks appear alongside the path, having never been pulled up. The path then winds roughly through the woods before crossing over a double set of tracks and bearing right. You emerge on old pavement among allot of junk, but if you continue straight, you'll run into an active rail line. If you look right along the fence line you can see where the tracks used to merge into this line. You are now in the Botsford section of Newtown and if you took the road left, you would hit Swamp Road.

10/05/2005.  On a foggy morning, Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I parked in the east entrance parking lot.  We investigated the small pond nearby the parking area.  We then walked south to find the trail.  Near the main buildings we turned right to follow the designated trail.  It passes by the playground, on the left, and then enters the woods.  The path is a woods road, very wide.  It heads downhill.  There are wet areas on either side. 

We reached a side trail on the right and decided to take it.  (If we had kept going straight we would have come out at the south end of Great Hollow Lake.)

The trail deeps down and over a small stream (now pretty much dried up because of the drought).  There is a nice wooden bridge with railings ready to take you to the other side of the stream in wetter seasons.  The streams heads into a small pond. 

As we approached the Great Hollow Lake area we could see the soccer fields set on a little higher on the right.  We bore left and went past the Oak Grove Picnic Area.  A little farther on and we reached the beach area at Great Hollow Lake.  We started to walk around the lake.  I chose not to go too far because we had left the dog in the car and I wanted to return to check on him, even though it was cool and foggy.

Turned around and came back.  (That is after we made a trail mistake and turned the wrong way back at the wooden bridge area.  We ended at the southeastern side of Great Hollow Lake)  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney. 

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

*  =  plants blooming on field trip, 10/05/2005

Acer platanoides var. (purple-leaved Norway maple)     planted
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Prunus sp. (cherry)     planted
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)   planted
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Taxus sp. (yew)
Tilia sp. (linden)    planted
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhododendron sp. (rhododendron)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix sp. (willow)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
(cotoneaster)     planted
(silver leaved dogwood)     planted

Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lathyrus latifolius (everlasting pea)     * 
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (false climbing hempweed)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury)
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)     *
Aster novi-belgii (New York aster)     *
Aster spp. (small white aster)     *
Bidens sp.  (beggar ticks)    
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Centaurea sp. (hybrid knapweed)     *
Chelidonium majus (celandine)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)     *
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Coronilla varia (crown vetch)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Desmodium sp. (tick trefoil)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pileweed)
Eupatorium maculatum (spotted Joe-Pye weed)
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)    
Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)     *
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)   planted
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)   
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)     *
Ludwigia palustris (water purslane)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose) 
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)
Peltandra virginica (arrow arum)
Penthorum sedoides (ditch stonecrop)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed)     *
Polygonum hydropiper (water pepper)     *
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)     *
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Prenanthes sp. (rattlesnake root)
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Rumex sp. (dock)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle)     *
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade)     *
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod)     *
Solidago canadensis var. scabra (tall goldenrod)     *
Solidago spp. (goldenrod)     *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)     *
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)
Trifolium pratense (red clover)     *
Trifolium repens (white clover)     *
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena hastata (blue vervain)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Vicia cracca (cow vetch)     *
Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex lurida (sallow sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Eleocharis sp. (spikerush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Cinna arundinacea (wood reedgrass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Digitaria sp. (crab grass)
Eleusine indica (zipper grass)
Panicum dichotomiflorum (fall panic grass)
Phleum pratense (Timothy grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Setaria viridis (green foxtail grass)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum)


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