Supply Lines

Supply Lines

You can’t help feeling prepared at the main entrance to the Branford Supply Pond and Pisgah Brook Preserves, where a kiosk offers info, a Mutt Mitt dispenser and a trail map in poster, paper and QR code forms. Still, my friend and I wondered which of three nearby trailheads we should take, until another walker suggested a 2-mile-plus figure-eight route combining parts of the blue, yellow and orange. Serenaded by birdsong, we followed her advice and headed up the shady gentle incline of the wide center path, edged with blooming spotted touch-me-not or jewelweed.

The path narrowed as we came to a sunny area with both dead trees and newer growth. Looking up about 8 feet, I spotted a snake sleeping in a niche. A passing hiker said, “That’s a black snake. They’re all over the place,” and estimated this one was four to six feet long based on its diameter. Later, I learned it was probably an Eastern Ratsnake, non-venomous and a strong climber.

sponsored by

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Otherwise, the trails mostly wound through the welcome shade of a tall canopy of maple, oak, hickory, beech, hemlock and others I couldn’t identify. Small footbridges crossed marshy areas and tiny creeks. At the center of our figure-eight, another kiosk with a map made it feel impossible to get lost.

Despite the variety of options, we stuck with our plan and took the yellow loop before turning onto orange, covering a small part of the “1050 contiguous acres of the Pisgah Brook/Supply Pond watershed” now managed by the Branford Open Space Authority and the Branford Land Trust. Occasionally, we passed other walkers, most with dogs, as well as remnants of stone walls, which predated the establishment of the preserve in 1969.

The spot where the orange trail meets the Pisgah Brook is low-key spectacular. A large network of tree roots pop from the pine needles blanketing the steep slope to the brook, where rocks and fallen trees invite crossing (if you can resist the urge to wade). After a languorous pause, we decided next time we would bring lunch, a towel and books.

Instead of crossing, we followed the gently undulating trail along the Pisgah until the water merged with the Supply Pond, where the ample path traveled through trees and brush with water views. In one small clearing, as I sat on a granite bench inscribed with “Always something to see,” an older man stopped and told us the bench was a memorial to “a professor who was always taking pictures of birds,” although, personally, he says, “I don’t think there’s that many birds here.” After I stood up, I noticed the other side of the bench was engraved with “DR. Noble S. Proctor,” who died in 2015 and, I later discovered, was an ornithologist and wildlife photographer.

From the bench to the short walk back to the parking lot, we met three more people and five more dogs. If you want maximum beauty but are short on time or prefer brief walks rather than longer hikes, I suggest doing just the end of our route: the orange trail that hugs the pond and Pisgah Brook to the small root-covered hill and back.

Or you could do what we did when we got back to the car: Follow Short Rocks Road past the parking areas and along the ponds—where, for us, a swan and cygnet swam—until you see houses and the Supply Pond Fishway, which looks like a dam. Park in the two-car lot near Stonegate Drive and follow the short path to the Fishway. There, the water spreads out before you, and all you need for a spectacular picnic is a spread of your own.

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

More Stories