Westwoods Loop #1
Walk the plank and crawl through a cave in Guilford!
How long is the walk?
This loop is 2.5 - 3 miles. It took my 7 and 9 year old about 2.5 hours, moving pretty slowly and taking our time to play.
Some notes from my family's experience:
The Guilford Land Trust has lots of great information online about Westwoods, including detailed write-ups for many different recommended loops, HERE. We did Loop 9 - The Plank Walk. We found the trail to vary a little from the write-up (which is from 2017), so a version with my notes is below.
I read through the trail notes and compared them to the map (HERE) before we went so that I had a mental picture of what the loop looked like.
We do a lot of hiking and this loop ranks in our top 10 favorite hikes in CT - a really super fun adventure for kids who like some climbing and cool trail features along the way.
From the Land Trust website, with my notes in italics:
Park at entrance #2 on Peddler’s Road (approximately 507 Peddlers Road). Begin on the White Circle trail located behind the kiosk (there are two trails that leave from the parking lot - use the one directly behind the park sign).
- Stay on White Circle as it goes left and White Square goes right.
- White Circle crosses gravel road back into woods.
- White Circle makes left and rejoins old trail. A short portion of the trail was underwater, but you can detour around it on drier ground.
- Take a left on to Green Circle as White Circle continues straight.
- Green Circle descends to the Great Marsh. The Marsh will be on your right.
- Green Circle makes a right over a bridge. You have traveled about ¾ miles (this bridge was much further down the Green Circle than we expected and we almost turned back, thinking we had missed something. Our GPS said it was about a mile into the hike). The area just past the bridge is quite often wet and muddy. Green Circle makes a sharp right just after the bridge - don't miss it!
- Green Circle meets up with Green Rectangle. Make a right on Green Rectangle. Green Rectangle was once an old colonial road called Marsh Road. You’ll see the remnants of rock walls on either side of the trail. Colonial roads often have rock walls on either side. A lone rock wall in the woods is likely marking the edge of a field from long ago.
- Green Rectangle crosses a bridge. The body of water is called the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Pond. The pond was created in the 1930’s as a fire pond in case of a forest fire.
- Make a right on Orange Circle soon after crossing the CCC Pond.
- After turning onto Orange Circle you will approach the Massive Rock Formation. The Orange Circle trail takes you right through this magnificent feature. The trail zigzags left and right through a narrow corridor between rocks. As you hike out of the rock corridor with the cliff side to your left, look at the fallen rock to your right. The fallen rock has a shape similar to a dinosaur with the head farthest from you. This stretch of the trail was REALLY fun! Among our favorite hike adventures ever.
- Stay on Orange Circle as Orange Square veers left.
- Orange Circle ends.
- We added a detour here: Go left on Yellow Circle for a short, very steep uphill climb. After the hill, follow Yellow Circle briefly until it takes a sharp left through THE CRAWL! This is a super fun climb and crawl through a rock formation. After exploring The Crawl, we backtracked to the White Circle. This whole detour is only about 20 minutes and is absolutely worth it!
- Continue right on White Circle onto the 660 foot long plank walk as it crosses the Great Marsh. The plank walk was constructed back in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s and there have been 2 major overhauls since its construction. The most recent overhaul (by members of the Westwoods Trails Committee) was just 2 years ago. The sections are built using natural features like tree clumps when possible. In the center channel of the marsh, the sections were built by driving stakes into the ground and using struts.
- After the plank walk, White Circle takes a right and goes uphill.
- At the top of the hill, take a left on White Square. White Circle will continue right.
- White Square comes up out of a field and ends. Make a left onto White Circle. Continue to the parking area.