New England's vibrant fall foliage will draw you in as you explore its wooded charm along the Connecticut River—America's first national Blueway, a new federal designation which includes the entire river "from source to sea," as well as its surrounding watershed. The Trust for Public Land has conserved more than 170,000 acres in the Connecticut River watershed—protecting farms, working forests, fisheries, river and trail access—and the resources that sustain community identity.
Your journey begins with two nights in Massachusetts at the Deerfield Inn, set in the midst of Historic Deerfield, a premier destination for exploring early New England history and home to Deerfield Academy. Under a canopy of fall color, we'll take an easy stroll on the banks of Fort River in the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. From the valley floor, we'll head to higher ground with a drive up Mount Holyoke to the Summit House, a defunct 19th century hotel restored as a visitor center by the state and set alongside the New England National Scenic Trail. Sit and admire the endless vistas – or hike atop the ridgeline with blankets of color spread in all directions. Having worked up an appetite we'll enjoy a farm-to-table spread at Northampton Community Farm, where The Trust for Public Land partnered with Grow Food Northampton to protect farmland that is now leased to young farmers. We'll depart for an afternoon paddling on the Connecticut River ending at the Mount Holyoke College Boathouse. The Trust for Public Land protected a 284-acre conservation area with over half a mile of Connecticut River frontage with the Town of South Hadley and assisted the college in creating a permanent home for their collegiate boaters. If paddling isn't your forte, we'll take you down river to visit a four-acre urban farm that The Trust for Public Land acquired for community organization Nuestras Raíces in 2004 to provide inner-city Holyoke residents with micro-farm plots and a beautiful riverfront open space. The project since expanded to host cultural events, provide economic opportunities through community farming, and to develop an environmental stewardship center for neighborhood youth.
From historic Deerfield we follow the river wending south towards the quintessential New England hamlet of Old Lyme, Connecticut. En route we'll enjoy visiting two conservation projects just completed by The Trust for Public Land: a hike in the Ethel Walker Woods in Simsbury, a 424-acre mosaic of forests, fields, and wetlands protected in partnership with the community; and a seasonal farm-to-table lunch at Eddy Farm, in Newington, prepared by chef and farmer Haley Fox. Following lunch we'll continue to the mouth of the Connecticut River where you will spend two nights at the beautiful Old Lyme Inn, offering gorgeous guest rooms with modern amenities and traditional charm. Enjoy an afternoon on your own exploring nearby historic Essex or perhaps step into the picturesque Florence Griswold Museum. Our evenings in Old Lyme will be spent enjoying dinner and expansive views of the fall foliage along the river at the lovely homes of supporters of The Trust for Public Land.
Our final day of touring offers an easy walk—or perhaps a vigorous hike (your choice!)—at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, in Westbrook, including some fabulous birding at the Menunketesuck Salt Meadow Marsh guided by our favorite local ornithologist. Following a morning on the land, you will be treated to a sumptuous farm-to-table lunch at White Gate Farm in East Lyme. What better way to spend our last day in the Connecticut River valley then on the water? Hop aboard the historic Schooner Mary E., a 75 foot authentic clipper built in 1906 and enjoy an afternoon of fall foliage reflected in the ripples of this iconic American river.
Dates: October 15-19, 2013