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20. Explore Fairfield County’s Largest Nature Preserve in Weston

Retrace your steps on East Ave., passing Wall St.  At the junction of East Ave., Rte. 53 and Rte. 1 continue Straight on Rte. 53 North (Newtown Rd.). It is a ten mile drive through scenic countryside, heavily wooded landscapes and classic Connecticut homes to reach Devil’s Den in Weston. At the fork of Chestnut Hill Rd. and Newtown Rd., bear left on Rte. 53 North/Chestnut Hill Rd.  Please note that Rte. 53 North has name changes that includes: Newtown Ave., Chestnut Hill Rd., Cedar Rd., Norfield Rd., Weston Rd., and Newtown Tpk. At the Junction of Rte. 53 and Rte. 33, continue on Rte. 53 North. After the junction of Rte. 106 and Rte. 53 N, bear right to continue on Rte. 53 North (Cedar Rd.).  At the junction of Rte. 57/Rte. 53, continue on Rte. 57/Rte. 53 North, at the split of Rte. 57 and Rte. 53, bear right on Rte. 53 North.  At the junction of Rte. 53, and Godfrey Rd., take a left on Godfrey Rd. West, and a right on Pent Rd. to the parking area of Devil’s Den.

This is the largest nature preserve in Fairfield County and the largest tract of privately held land in the region.  Devil’s Den has a long and fascinating history that began with Native Americans that made this area their home over 5000 years ago by using the overhanging rock outcrops as shelter.  During the Revolutionary War period David Adams built a sawmill here that provided lumber for many colonial homes.  In the 1800’s colliers used Devil’s Den for charcoal production. In 1966 Katharin Ordway donated funds to the Nature Conservancy and 1400 acres were purchased.  Today, there are over 1700 acres managed by the Nature Conservancy, the Aquarion Water Company, the DEP and local land trusts.

A walk through Devil’s Den provides many scenic overlooks of a continuous ring of green forest as far as the eye can see. The preserve is home to 145 species of birds, 23 species of mammals and 475 varieties of trees and wildflowers.  There is hiking on 21 miles of trails that traverse the diverse habitats found in the preserve from woodlands and wetlands to rugged rocky ridges.  Highlights of hiking here includes Great Ledge with it’s a spectacular view of the Saugatuck Reservoir and Ambler Gorge, a picturesque ravine with a rocky cascade.  Cross Country skiing and snowshoeing is allowed on red blazed trails, making a visit here remarkable any time of year.  Trails are open sunrise to sunset.