Much of Cheshire is shut down at the moment, in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, what remains open for use are the numerous hiking trails around town.
As the weather warms, residents stuck inside at the moment may want to take advantage of these natural resources, which provide not only much-needed exercise but also a chance to escape into nature for a while.
In the summer of 2018, The Cheshire Herald ran a series of articles detailing the different trails around town. We thought now would be a good time to revisit those experiences, sharing with you what we saw on some of the trails open to the public.
It’s important to remember that all social distancing protocols should be adhered to while hiking, and that reports of mass gatherings at these or any other open space areas of town could force their closure.
It posits that achievements attained through work and sacrifice do more to buoy spirits and provide a sense of accomplishment than any “success” that is simply given. Beginning a business, seeing it grow from the ground up, and watching as it becomes a financial triumph is, according to this theory, more satisfying than, say, winning the lottery.
If true, then perhaps one hiking trail in Cheshire above all offers such an opportunity for “earned success.”
In 2018, on a rather breezy morning in July, The Cheshire Herald ventured out in search of something. It could be heard in the distance — a faint sound playing underneath the noise of nature all around — but it was unmistakable.
The story in the July 12 edition of the paper described it as thus:
One can hear the destination ahead well before it comes into view.
The steep incline of the trail begins to level off around a small, narrow bend when, off in the distance, the first whispers of rushing water can be discerned. As one moves ever forward and upward, the sound becomes louder until, suddenly, the trees open and hikers are allowed their first glimpse of the raging waterfall before them — streams of white splashing over jagged rocks on their way down to the brook below.
Even when one expects it, the scene is enough to give pause to any nature enthusiast.
It is Roaring Brook Falls, the highest single-drop falls in Connecticut and one of the most popular destinations for not only Cheshire residents but also those from all around the state and region.
Aside from the Linear Trail, perhaps no hiking trail is as popular as the one leading to Roaring Brook Falls. Though the trail begins easy enough — the tease of a leisurely stroll through nature — it quickly begins its ascent.
Leaning ever forward, with knees bent and muscles firing all at once, the steep inclines that mark the way toward the falls plateau every so often to provide respite and a chance to take in views that make the climb worth it.
And then, one comes to the waterfall itself — the cascading foamy white water that runs down the edge of the mountain from which it originates, but never, it seems, in too much of a hurry. The Herald described it this way back in 2018:
The climb tests one’s stamina more than courage and, eventually, the trail begins to level off again, but (then) narrows quite considerably and the terrain becomes more difficult to navigate. Following along near the edge of the ravine, the sounds of the waterfall can be heard and the gorge below, though obstructed by trees and plant life, becomes visible.
The trail continues on until the first glimpses of rushing water can be seen. Then, the route veers upwards sharply, as protruding rocks and tree roots provide the footing to the first viewing area for the falls.
Though the water is not raging at the moment, as it routinely does after a hard rain storm or the end of a snowy winter, the spectacle of the waterfall is still impressive … The view of the falls from the first location is inspiring, and one can choose to stay there or climb up to a second and a third area — each providing different angles of the falls and each requiring a steeper climb to the top.
According to state records, Roaring Brook Falls is considered the highest single-drop of its kind in Connecticut, coming in at 80 feet — a full 10 feet higher than Kent Falls.
The property was privately owned until the 1970s, when the Town, along with the Cheshire Land Trust, began looking for ways to purchase and preserve the land.
The acquisition was completed in 1978 for approximately $194,000, and those who were instrumental in making the deal a reality promised that “generations yet unborn” would find Roaring Brook “still a pristine wilderness” to enjoy well into the future, according to a Dec. 14, 1978 Cheshire Herald front-page article.
It is true that the falls are the highlight of the climb, but there are still plenty of other sites and sounds to enjoy along the way. For instance, at one point early in the journey, a rather large, exposed brick chimney appears in a clearing. What at one point surrounded this chimney remains a mystery, although it is likely that it is a remnant of the old mill that was erected on the property and powered by the running water nearby.
There are ponds covered almost entirely by lilypads, and special stone markers placed in honor of those who helped turn the land into an open space activity for all to use.
And while one can’t ever guarantee a run-in with some wildlife, many a hiker has reported finding a deer or two passing by, no doubt on route to find some food or a place to rest for the evening.
Some have referred to Roaring Brook Falls as Cheshire’s “hidden gem” and, while it may not be that hidden from residents, it still perhaps tends to attract fewer out-of-town hikers than some nearby trails.
That, of course, is to the benefit of every Cheshirite looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors, get a little exercise, and immerse themselves in nature.