“The Wallace Barnes Nature Trail”

A Fully Accessible Trail at the Harry C. Barnes Memorial Nature Center, a one of a kind in Connecticut!

As the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2020, we embarked on a capital campaign entitled Blazing New Trails. This name signifies ELCCT’s path taken; the hundreds of thousands of children and adults educated about the importance of nature and our environment, the hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat protected, and the reputation gained, through hard work and the support of our community, as one of Connecticut’s premier environmental conservation and education organizations.

Inspiring and enabling people of all ages to spend time in nature is at the core of the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut’s mission. There is nothing like spotting a Barred Owl roosting in a tree and watching as it silently watches you, exploring the forest and finding a salamander, or enjoying the changing seasons along a familiar trail. These experiences are long-lasting and shape opinions about the natural world leading to the protection of our natural environment.

Setting the educational benefits aside, the health benefits of spending time outdoors in nature is well-documented. Exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.

This mile-long nature trail will be accessible to people using wheelchairs, strollers, walkers and other mobility devices. Benches will be installed frequently along the trail with special handles designed to assist people with disabilities. Scenic pull-offs with benches will allow for resting and learning about points of interest. The trail will access the pristine Freeman Hill Brook and will provide areas to quietly enjoy the sounds of its gently flowing waters. Trail surface will be a combination of compacted stone dust and boardwalks and will provide exceptional educational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Three shelters will be installed in unique habitats to provide wildlife viewing opportunities as well as cover during inclement weather.

Construction began in March of 2023! We’ll continue to update this page with progress pictures.