Wolf Pit Nature Preserve
Bethel, Fairfield County, CT
Source: Cooley, #24


Lies just north of the Collis P. Huntington State Park. From Bethel, drive east (toward Newton) on Route 302; turn right (south) on Route 58; drive about 1.3 miles to make a left turn onto Sunset Hill Road; immediately turn sharply left onto Wolf Pit Road; drive about 0.5 of a mile and turn right onto the dirt road just past the mailbox for house #48.  In about 30 yards or so you will see the preserve signs on the right.  Park. 


An old feldspar mine is here. Feldspar was used to make porcelain and glass. It was quarried from the gneissic bedrock.


Ms. Janet Taylor gave the land for the preserve to The Nature Conservancy in 1969

The area now has dual signs: one for the Nature Conservancy and one for the Bethel Land Trust. 


One mile walk through successional fields. From Wolf Pit Road head east and cross over a brook connected north to a pond. (You could take a left turn and head up along the wetlands and through the Bethel Land Trust area to Hearthstone Lane and then return.)

After crossing the brook turn right (south) and then bear east and then northeast going through many stone walls; At the remains of an old road turn left (north) and shortly turn right (northeast) heading on a short circular walk passing a vista and the site of an old feldspar mine and then coming back to the juncture with the start of the short circular walk. Return the way you came in.

7/15/2005.  On a overcast day, Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I parked right in front of a small blocked off entrance on the east side of Wolf Pit Road.  This is not a good place to park.  (I found out the hard way, by hiking, that there is better parking along a dirt road just north of house mail box #48.)  Since no dogs were allowed, Cefe agreed to stay with the dog while I quickly made the hike to check out the vegetation. 

I expected a small place, but the place is rather large.  And there is quite a bit of variety of habitats: woods, uplands, fields, pond, and marsh. 

I walked around the gated opening, which is partially blocked by vegetation.  Once inside the place the place opens up with wide grassy paths.  I turned left and started following the trail.  I passed by a bridge over a small stream (with a couple of small waterfalls).  In a short distance I came to the edge of a pond.  I wanted to walk around it but it was blocked by vegetation and muddy shores. 

I turned around and went back to the bridge.  On the other side of the stream I had a choice of right or left.  Left was filled with skunk cabbage and looked a little wet. So I decided to take the right path, marked with yellow markers.  I figured the trail would loops and bring me right back to the small bridge.  (It may, but I didn't get to return to the bridge.) 

The trail goes uphill into dry upland woods.  I reached an area where I had the choice of going straight or to the right.  I wanted to take the shortest route, so I walked straight on the trail.  I soon realized, however, that I was off the trail because I did not see any yellow markers. 

I tell you,. I have gotten lost many times but, maybe because I pay attention to topography of the trail and area, I usually get out of trouble in a short bit of time.  This time it was real fast as on the left I saw border signs for the nature preserve.  I walked back into the preserve area and quickly found the yellow trail. It must have turned left somewhere along the trail and I just did not see it.

The yellow trail was nicely looping the area, but then it suddenly turned right and went downhill to near the wetland areas.  Then it turned right to follow parallel with the skunk cabbage invested wetlands. It went straight for about 0.4 of a mile or so and came out on a dirt road.  I noticed that this is the better place to park a car.  I turned left and quickly reached Wolf Pit Road.  Turning left again, I walked back to the car via the road.  This turned out perfectly, because I wanted to see more of the marsh anyway.  There are great views from the road. 

I have to come back when the dog is not with me and I can take my time and switch into rubber boots to explore more of the wetlands. 

Nice place, but it would help to have some boardwalk for better access into the heart of the marsh.    Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

*  =  plant blooming on date of field trips, 7/15/2005

Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Catalpa sp. (catalpa)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Shrubs and Subshrubs:
Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)  
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)   
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)     *
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)    
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)  
Rosa palustris (swamp rose)     *
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet)     *
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)
Vaccinium angustifolium (low-bush blueberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (smooth arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum lentago (nannyberry viburnum)
Viburnum plicatum (double-file viburnum)

Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)     *
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Euonymus fortunii (Fortune's euonymus)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)     *
Aethusa cynapium (fool's parsley)     *
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)     *
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)      *
Bidens sp. (beggar tick)
Cardamine impatiens (narrow-leaved bittercress)
Chelidonium majus (celandine)     *
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)     *
Cichorium intybus (chicory)     *
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)     *
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)     *
Cryptotaenia canadensis (honewort)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)     *
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane)     *
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Galium mollugo (wild madder)     *
Galium spp. (bedstraw)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum canadense (white avens)     *
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)     *
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket)     *
Impatiens capensis (orange touch-me-not)       *
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil)
Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife)     *
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)     *
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medicago lupulina (black medick)     *
Medicago sativa (alfalfa)     *
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover)     *
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)     *
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)     *
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)    *soon
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)    *
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup)     *
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)     *
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)   
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)    
Trifolium pratense (red clover)     *
Trifolium repens (white clover)     *
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)     *
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)

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

Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)

Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Elytrigia repens (quack grass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Phleum pratense (Timothy grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Setaria viridis (green foxtail grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Lycopodium digitatum (southern ground cedar)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)


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