What to look for along the Jefferson Park Trail
Begin at Trailhead 1, and proceed east along Old Ridge Road along State Forest on the south, and private lands on the north. The old road is bounded by stone walls on both sides. The first 600 feet of the trail is shared with Trail #6 (which then branches south to Lost Pond). Continue on the old road to where, in a spot muddy after heavy rain, the trail turns sharply left (north). Here, in this moister area, an occasional yellow birch occurs along with beech, red maple and tulip-poplar. Black birch and oaks are abundant here also. Pass through dense thickets of small trees and shrubs including witch-hazel, highbush blueberry, viburnums, dogwoods, beech sprouts, and red maple, and then cross a beautiful small intermittent stream and boggy area lined with skunk cabbage and false helebore.
Pass another boggy spot before heading up a rise, where at about mid-slope, the trail splits to form the base of a large loop. Either branch will lead on to Trailhead 2. Take the right branch which cuts along the east-facing slope of a gentle ridge. Note the stumps of large beech trees along the way, and the dense stand of beech sprouts and saplings in the understory. The trail passes through a stone wall. The land here was cleared and probably pastured as it is too rocky to till. Ironwood is a very common understory tree in some areas. The trail opens onto the power line right-of-way, and with a quiet approach, especially in spring, one can often find deer grazing here. About 200 feet into the woods the trail meets the loop’s western branch just by a stone wall. Either circle the loop and return to Trailhead 1, or proceed north on Land Trust land (500 feet) to the Jefferson Park trailhead which connects to the Oil Mill Brook Trail.
Returning to Trailhead 1 along the west branch of the loop, ascend the slope to its crest and follow the trail south to the power line and beyond. Dogwoods bloom along the opening’s edges—revealing the importance of sunlight and air movement in drying foliage and preventing infection by the anthracnose fungus that has killed most of this species under forest canopies. Few dogwoods remain in our woods today. Pass through and along a stone wall before turning south once more and through another stone wall (the old field border system was extensive!). Descend the ridge to the base of the loop at mid-slope and return to Trailhead 1.
Overview & Map
Trail Map: Jefferson Park Trail
The Jefferson Park Trail is an easy trail, passing through State Forest and Land Trust land. It offers an opportunity to see a number of diverse ecological settings. The forest is more remote than many, and thus provides an opportunity to see birds that require more solitude. Wetlands, streams, and upland forest knolls afford diversity of plant and animal life. The trail has a sizeable loop, the branches of which are quite different in character. An opening created by the power line right-of-way adds habitat preferred by several species of plants, birds and mammals. With a quiet approach, one can sometimes see deer grazing in the opening.
Category: An easy walk
Start: At the trailheads on Warpas Rd and Jefferson Park Dr.
Distance: 0.9 mile, one way
Approximate Time: 1 to 1.5 hours for round trip
Parking: Near trailheads on Warpas Rd and Jefferson Park Dr.
PLEASE NOTE: Hunting, camping, fires, cutting trees or vegetation, horses, and motorized vehicles are all prohibited on Madison Land Conservation Trust property.
MLCT trails and properties are for hiking only. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed. Please pick up all animal waste.