Senator George P. McLean gave to the Simsbury and Granby area an extraordinary legacy through his preservation of 3,200 acres of abandoned farms and wild land. In these woods, he found respite from the pressures of state and national politics where his career included U.S. Attorney General for Connecticut (1892-1896); Governor of Connecticut (1901-1903) and U.S. Senator (1911-1917 and 1918-1929).
The 3, 200 acre McLean Game Refuge has many options for hikes, but this is one of my favorites. I entered the refuge through the gate on Canton Road. There is room here for a few cars to park along the side of the road. I followed the woods road down the hill and took a right (north) going toward Trout Pond. Up and over the hill and you come down to a bridge over Bissell Brook. A little farther, and the purple North Trail goes off to the left. At the top of the ridge (an esker?), turn left again and follow the purple blazes to the woods road. Early in the spring, you can start to hear the Wood Frogs that are up ahead in Kettle Pond. They are really loud and come out even when there is ice still on the pond. From the woods road, turn left again following the purple North trail down past Kettle Pond. The level of the pond is really low right now. The place I took the picture from is usually under water. In addition to Wood frogs, you can often see the Eastern newt and painted turtles. Up to the edge of a field and around through a beautiful pine forest. I am leery of ticks so I only take the path through the field in the winter when the vegetation is low or covered. The frame of an old tractor is sitting in the woods here. A left down to Spring Pond (there is no trail marker). Spring Pond is a nice spot, quieter than Trout Pond. There is a little shelter here, not really a cabin. I don't usually see geese at this pond, but I have seen kingfishers and herons. If you walk around the pond, you will probably see painted turtles basking on the logs.
The trail map on the game refuge website is quite detailed. I have a folding map of the refuge that I picked up at some event. With so many trails in the refuge, I find it quite helpful. I am not sure, but you may be able to get one if you contact the refuge at their website.
Day H. on McLean Game Refuge Trail
I entered the refuge from the Barndoor Hills Road parking area, also known in the refuge as the picnic grove. Very nice area to hike, although I would call it more of a long walk, as it was very easy. There is an extensive set of trails here ranging from wide carriage roads to narrower hiking trails. The entrance at Barndoor Hills rd does not have a map posted and I was unable to find one so I was going in blind so to speak. Not having a map, the trail system was very confusing to follow. I hiked parts of the green, purple, blue, and yellow trails before finally coming to the Salmon Brook street entrance which had a map posted. I took a pic of the map and was then easily able to follow it. However, the map is marked with trail names, not colors, so I had to figure out which was which on my own. But, all that said, it was a very nice walk. Even without a map I never felt lost as all the trails tend to converge and loop back on each other and the intersections tend to be well marked. At one point came to a beautiful pond, called Trout Pond. It was picture perfect. On another trail, I came across a white tailed deer feeding in a field. She obviously isn't used to seeing people because she just stood there and looked at me while I stood there and took pictures. She wasn't more than 40 feet from me. It was an amazing moment. After a few moments of watching her, I wondered off down the trail and she went back to dinner. It was very peaceful. Iwent on a Saturday afternoon, was there for 2 hours, walking more than 5 miles and I didn't see a single other person, except a mother and children playing in the creek at the picnic area by the parking lot on my way in. If your looking for a nice place to take the kids or an easy afternoon stroll this is a good place. The only reason I'm giving it four stars instead of 5 is because of the lack of map available at my entrance.
Randyn M. on McLean Game Refuge Trail
Nice, easy walk/run. Dogs love coming here before or after the dog park right down the street.
McLean has 3 Loop trails that start a couple of hundred feet from the parking area on 10/202. All 3 trails start at the same point and diverge as you get into the walk. The trails are very well marke with Red, orange and blue stripes on the trees. Red is the shortest at 1.25 miles and is a liesurley walk with some slight uphill grades. Orange branches off. It's length is about 1.9 miles. before joining the carriage road. The blue trail continues up and down hill for another approx. 1/4 mile and again joins thecarriage road. You have a choice when entering the carriage road at any point of returning to the parking are via the cabin and lake area or going in the opposite direction to another pond and or picnic area.( I have not tried either of the later choices). Easy to moderate for the leisurely or week end hike.