I’ve heard so much about this since it was established a year ago, but had never visited. It was a great property for starting our quest to visit each one. The trails are so well-maintained and easy to follow (as they are in all the properties I’ve seen so far), and there is a lot of natural diversity on the property: river, meadow, highlands. Also, we could tell from looking at the map that we’d be able to see most of the preserve by staying on one big circle (though we did end up following other trails at our navigator’s suggestions).
Avery wanted to control the map, which he consulted frequently. We started at the parking lot, making our way back into the property where it joins the main red circular trail. Avery was excited to see elevated wooden planks set up to walk along, and while he commented on the mud, didn’t try to walk in it, which was surprising. (There are also several small wooden bridges on the trails that must have water under them sometimes, but seem not to in late summer.) What we did find in the mud were tracks: deer tracks and raccoon tracks, which Avery pulled out his magnifying glass to look out more closely.
Once we joined up with the main trail, we were at the edge of the meadow. It was bright and sunny, which we enjoyed for a moment until we decided that being in the shade in late summer is preferable. As we went down toward where the yellow path splits off, Avery found a tree with a big hanging vine that he could swing on.
Around one of the bends on this trail was evidence of someone setting up a fort with tree trunks that had been cut down and large pieces of bark. Avery had fun peeking through the holes.
Then path turned toward the water, and this is where we had the most fun on the trip. We went down to the water where we had our snack and then walked on the rocks into the river. No child can resist the pull of tossing rocks into the water. We also saw a crayfish shell on a rock.
A side note on our snack: normally we bring healthy, energizing snacks like fruit and granola bars. But today, the last day before kindergarten started – and because we were in Westport – we got donuts from Coffee An’. Amazing donuts.
After spending a long time in the river where the path first meets it, we continued along the trail which parallels with river, and Avery continued his riverside exploration every 50 yards or so. At one point we came across an incredible stone bench that must have been extremely difficult to put in place this deep into the preserve that we stopped to site and look at the river (while Avery threw stones in the water). Finally – and let’s be honest, there’s only so much kid-throwing-rocks-into-the-water anyone can handle – the path turns back toward the meadow up the uplands.
In the uplands we saw a many logs in various states of decomposition, with mushrooms, moss, and crumbling into sawdust. This is also the place where one might find a lot of worms and perhaps the occasional slug if one were interested in that sort of thing.
At the end we passed back by the meadow, in which the plants are high, and have some flowers. We were surprised not to see very many butterflies in the meadows, but I don’t think we hit the height of the flowers. At this point we turned back to the entrance, stopping to look once more at the animal tracks we’d seen on the way in.
This turned out to be an incredible couple of hours. The property has great trails and enough diversity to keep everyone interested. We will definitely be back. At dinner that night, I asked Avery what he remembered from the day and enjoyed the most. His answer: the slug.
For maps, directions and more information about the Newman-Poses Preserve in Westport, click here.