47. The Watson-Symington Property on West, Wellesley and Greenley Roads, Donated in 1984, Walking Trails Open to the Public

The Nancy Watson-Symington Woodlands

One of the natural jewels of New Canaan with 47 acres including magnificent tree's in a first growth woods, beautiful vistas, a serene waterfall, active bird populations and envigorating walking paths. These woodlands were originally part of "Orchard Farm" and donated to the Land Trust in the mid-1990's by Nancy Watson Symington, widow of Senator Stuart Symington.  The property is to be "preserved in perpetuity in its wild and natural state."  Accessible from the east side of Wellesley Drive.

Fern Meadow near the Watson-Symington entrance off Wellesley Drive

One of the many visitors to these Woodlands

Dear NCLTers

It will be worth a  trip this coming week to see the fantastic job John Strout did constructing a walkway at the western entrance to Symington. John has provided access across the section of wetlands which has been under water for much of the spring. He was able to use cedar logs off the Browne Property  as supports creating a very natural look with the walkway meandering around rock obstacles. Of interest when I had gone by several times today and each time walkers were commenting with rave reviews on the boardwalk.


On Jun 1, 2014, at 12:38 PM, Board Member Penelope Ross wrote:

I went in today and, boy o boy, what a improvement.  In time the muddy trail will repopulate with green plants--ferns and the like. 
4 cars in front at 10:30 besides mine. A dog-walker had left a "package" for me to take home just like they do at Irwin Park. 
Two things I think should be mentioned to neighbors: 
Landscapers [redacted] are dumping mounds of grass clippings by our entrance. These will soon rot and smell awful--ever encountered this on a golf course on a hot summer day? 
And, property owners [redacted] have come through the gate and piled up pruned leafy branches  on both sides of the trail. 
I would be happy to lead a group [redacted] in a weed pull between the entrance and the walkway, so that the wildflowers have a chance to spread. 
The two most prolific invaders right now are garlic mustard and wineberry and they are thickest there and on the north boundary trail. I didn't see any poison ivy, so it should be safe to get in there and uproot the bad guys. It would sure make our entrance more welcoming. Any effort to clear garlic mustard takes years of continued pulling of the flowering plants before they turn to brown sticks, because dormant seeds remain on the ground just waiting to germinate. 
The wineberry spreads by underground runners and is similarly hard to get ride of.   
The barberry battle was lost a long time ago, I think. 
Another possible plus to dredging the pond: Maybe it would be less of a mosquito breeding ground. I can attest from my visit last week that there are mosquitos a-plenty. 
I next took a stroll around the Lee Garden on Chichester, and the Beautification League has managed to keep invasives out of there. Of course, we cannot eradicate weeds on 42 acres, but for now the heaviest concentrations are at the
entrance and alongside some of the trails.
 Penny Ross

On Jun 1, 2014, at 8:22 AM, NC Land Trust <newcanaanlandtrust@gmail.com> wrote:

Superb piece of walkway that really enhances the entrance. The stonework across the waterfall is another big improvement. Nice start to the summer season!!!

June 14, 2014

Yesterday I stopped by the entrance gate to the new Conservation Easement trail on Wellesley Drive. Since Nancy was with me, convalescing in the car (she is recovering from a fall), I could not take the time for a full trek.  However, after only about 50 yards into the woodland I was stunned at the transformation from residential area into complete wilderness.  Moreover, the new path was beautifully engineered, complete with platforms over the wet areas.  I encountered only one other walker in the short time I was there, a young lady and her two dogs, who had done a full circuit.  She was as enthusiastic as I was.

Our family had lived for more than fifty years near this property, first at the corner of Wood Ridge and Wellesley, and then on Greenley at the foot of Wellsley Drive.  Yesterday I could hardly believe how the forest had grown, and the understory filled in, even despite the prevalence of deer.

My guess, and hope, is that this major conservancy site will become a signature wilderness access for New Canaan.  My hat is doffed to you for your proactive role in bringing this treasure into community access.  I can hardly wait to explore it fully.  Thank you.

Bill Sessions

The Opening of Symington Spring 2013, left to right Penny Ross, George Herde and Siw de Gysser

The Symington Trail from Wellesley Road Newly Restored

Guided Tour by Penny Ross at the Opening of the Symington Property

Trail Directions. Paths 4, 5 and 6. Bring your Map.

Chris Schipper Gives a Talk on the Diversity of the Symington Woodlands

The Symington Waterfall in Fall 2013 Prior to Restoration