by Katie Salvatore
Wolf Tree Trail and Webb Forest Trail
The Webb Forest Trail encircles and inter-connects with the Wolf Tree Trail through the 2,000 acre Webb Forest. The Wolf Tree Trail forms a skeleton for the Webb Trail, and the two inter-connect four times: the beginning and end of Webb, at the town line, and the end of Wolf Tree.
The SRK Greenway uses part of the Wolf Tree Trail, then continues part way on Webb before branching off at the top of the loop. The forest they travel through also reveals a great amount of history, from stumps of trees used for packaging crates in WWII and the town line marker used since 1854, to centuries-old rock walls and cleared areas of power lines used today.
The Wolf Tree Trail begins at the Lakeshore Road parking area and heads up hill; about a quarter mile in it passes the entrance to the Webb Forest Trail. It then crosses the juncture with Bunker Loop Trail and a little later passes the intersection with the end of Webb.
The 1.6 mile trail gets close to the summit, where it once again meets Webb, and then makes a hairpin turn to follow the New London-Wilmot town line until it meets its end with the Webb. In order to make it back down, the hiker can either follow the Wolf Tree, or descend along the Webb until it meets back with the Wolf Tree.
Guide sheets for the Webb Forest Trail are available both online and at the Lakeshore Road entrance. They point out interesting sights and information about the forest and its ongoing preservation.
This area has excellent examples of the stages of forest succession. In some areas, the hardwoods are slowly taking over the coniferous and in others there are large, dominant Wolf Trees (which the trail is named after).
Some places that were cleared are now just growing young pines, which are favored by wildlife like deer. As hikers travel up the hill they can also notice the change in trees due to the soil changing from deciduous at the bottom and coniferous further up.
After the Webb Forest Trail sprouts from the Wolf Tree Trail, it travels to an overlook where hikers can see Pleasant Lake. It then ascends, crossing a dirt road and Sargent Brook, then the Wilmot-New London town line, arcs over the summit, crosses back into New London, and then descends until it terminates when it meets the Wolf Tree Trail.
There are 33 points of interest on the trail that are highlighted in the brochure. Alone, the loop is 2.6 miles, but the necessary travel to get to it on the Wolf Tree Trail makes the total trip 3.4 miles.
The Webb Forest is named after Richard H. Webb, whose conservation easement allows the New London Conservation Commission to maintain the forest and trails. Remember to honor his gift and the forest by staying on the trail, staying safe, and enjoying and appreciating your time and the land.
Great Brook Trail
The Great Brook Trail travels for 1.6 miles one way along the Great Brook, providing great views of the brook and its cascades; the extra water from snowmelt in the spring makes it even more exciting, but can also be a little dangerous.
There are four ways to enter the trail; at the start at the parking area on Lakeshore road (which also connects to Wolf Tree Trail): at the parking area on Pingree Road (which leads to Bunker Loop Trail, as well) about a quarter of the way down the trail; and by connecting from either the Dura Crockett Trail or the Morgan Hill Trail, which have parking on Morgan Hill Road.
The beginning of the trail, from the Lakeshore parking lot, to the bridge part way through is also known as Cocoa’s Path. The trail ends at the beaver dam on Devils Half Acre Pond. The SRKG continues past this point, as well as past the starting point.
Bunker Loop Trail
To reach the Bunker Loop Trail, you have to start on the Great Brook Trail (or Cocoa’s Path during this section) from the Pingree Road parking area, also known as the Pingree Connector.
It travels uphill until it reaches an old road and then meets the Wolf Tree Trail; the distance of the Bunker Loop alone is 0.8 miles. If a loop hike is desired, turn right at the crossing with Wolf Tree Trail, which takes you downhill until you meet the Great Brook Trail, which will take you back to the Pingree parking area. This full loop is 1.7 miles.