Stony Creek Quarry Preserve, Branford
So, the first time we attempted to hike Stony Creek Quarry Preserve in Branford, CT we ended up on the wrong trail and spent most of our time in Guilford. Our loop hike around the quarry was a fail, but we did get some good miles in. Just in the wrong place. That being said, if it’s your first time going there use a Westwoods map! The three other maps (yes, three) I had looked at/had with me didn’t show some of the other trails that go off more into Guilford. Armed with the Westwoods map for attempt number two we had much more success.
Starting at the parking lot off Stony Creek Quarry Road we headed in a clockwise direction on the green rectangle trail. Right away we encountered an old wire cable along the trail. This hike is rich in evidence of the past quarrying operations that use to take up much of the land. Here the trail is located in the Kelley Preserve section. After a little more than half a mile the green trail meets up with the white circle trail. If you want to make a big loop and visit the Van Wie Preserve, like we did, hang a left (south).
The green and white trails follow together for a short time along a swampy area. Right before they split there is a wooden bridge to help you get across. Be prepared for mud even with the bridge. Continue to look for the green rectangle blazes. At this point the blazes are very obvious, nice and large, and more of an electric green that can stand out in the woods. Without leaves yet out on the trees we were able to see houses as we walked along the green trail in the Van Wie Preserve. Even with houses visible this is a very nice spot to hike along. Right before the green trail ended we hopped on to the blue circle trail to continue our loop. This is just a short section of trail that connects to a fire road. Here is when the Westwoods map really comes in handy. There are some connector trails that aren’t marked with blazes but are on the map with dotted lines. Using the map we were able to make our way over to the orange trail.
Walking along the orange trail is like stepping back in history. Here you get to go inside an area that was once quarried out.
Tall granite walls stretch up on either side as you walk through time. It was this pink Stony Creek granite that can now be famously seen as the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Heading south along the trail you are then brought back to modern times as you approach granite chunks that haven’t been exposed to weather and time for as long.
The orange trail skirts right along the still active Stony Creek Quarry. Two of the major projects the quarry is working on currently is providing granite for improvements in Battery Park, NYC and the facade and pavers for the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Instead of following the orange trail all the way to the small waterfall near the end we decided to head back over to the green and see where we went wrong on attempt number one. That time we wanted to do the loop of the quarry in a counterclockwise direction. This time at trail intersections we each walked up the trails to find the green markings of where we were suppose to go. The green square markings are not all that well marked in this area and when you do find them they blend in way too much with the surroundings. If you leave the parking lot and head counterclockwise be very careful or you might end up in the Pinchot Preserve. Again, this is where the Westwoods map would have been handy on attempt number one. We would have seen this trail and known it was no where close to where we wanted to go. Oh well, you live, you learn.
Before heading back to the car we made one more stop at the small waterfall along the green rectangle trail. This is a pleasant little spot that surely sees plenty of visitors on warm weekend days. Altogether the loop we made was 4 miles long. It is possible to both a longer or shorter loop hike in the Stony Creek Quarry Preserve. With over 20 miles of trails there are plenty of options to enjoy the preserve.