Location: Northern New Canaan, between Wellesley Drive and West Road
Access: The main parking area and access point for the Watson-Symington Preserve is located along Wellesley Drive, just north of Sherwood Lane. This access point can accommodate multiple cars, and provides access to the preserve’s main trail system. A secondary access point is located along West Road between addresses 226 and 246, and is best used by neighbors who can walk to the property.
Date Protected: 1984 and 1996 Acreage: 42 Trail Length: 1.6
Visitation Hours Dawn to Dusk Dogs Allowed? Yes, on leash*
History: The Nancy Watson-Symington Woodlands is a magnificent 42-acre property generously donated in stages with a final parcel received in April 1996. As you walk the trail, you’ll be enjoying land that was once owned by the likes of the Amos Pennoyer in the early 19th century that established “Orchard Farm” (still visible and under conservation easement near the NW corner of the property), S. Bayard Colgate, Arthur K. Watson, Senator Stuart Symington, and eventually the family of Nancy Watson-Symington, by whom the final gift of land was given. Along with the adjacent 4-acre Lancaster property donated to NCLT in 1969, the contiguous protected area is over 46 acres.
Recreation Opportunities: Called the “crown jewel” among the Land Trust’s nearly 70 holdings, this extraordinary preserve may be one of New Canaan’s best-kept secrets. NCLT has established, and continues to maintain an extensive walking trail at the Watson-Symington Preserve. The scenic trails meander around wetlands and through hardwood forests that change in composition and structure with the topography. Some of the largest naturally growing trees in New Canaan can be found on this property, with the largest Tulip Poplars having diameters of over 4 feet.
Land Stewardship: NCLT’s ongoing conservation efforts look to restore a diversity of habitat for wildlife, reduce the prevalence of invasive species (grapevine, winged euonymus, bittersweet, etc.), and maintain open trails for use by neighbors and the broader community.
*Other: This is the only New Canaan Land Trust property that allows off-leash dog walking. Off-leash dogs, under voice control, are allowed only between dawn and noon. Leashed dogs are welcome from dawn until dusk.