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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » CONNECTICUT » Steep Rock Association
The Clamshell
Steep Rock Association

Protecting the Wild for Future Generations, Washington, Connecticut

By Mark B. Oliver | July 14, 2011

When thinking of the many attractions on our doorstep, fine dining, unique shops, great theater, perhaps the most prevalent is the wonderful countryside that surrounds us.

A Fly Fisherman's Delight

What doesn’t quite register is how such beauty remains intact. While each State plays their part, private land trusts are very much at the forefront of protecting the open land that we often take for granted. These trusts each have the mission to acquire available acreage in their catchment areas and to preserve and maintain this land for the enjoyment of all.

One such trust is Steep Rock Association, which owns and oversees preserved land mostly along the glacially carved Shepaug River in the vicinity of Washington Depot, Connecticut.   It is split into three reservations, Steep Rock, Hidden Valley and Macricostas Preserve.

In 1889, architect Ehrick Rossiter was due to commence the construction of his own house in Washington when he discovered that 100 acres of wooded hillsides to the west of him were to be cleared by a timber company.   Using his house construction money he bought the land, forever protecting what is now the heart of the Steep Rock reservation.

In 1925 he donated this land to a group of trustees.   Four years later they purchased the area known as the Clam Shell, preserving the view from Steep Rock summit.   Since then many landowners have contributed further property to the trust to the extent that Steep Rock’s holdings now exceed 2,700 acres.

The View from Steep Rock Summit

Steep Rock Association is a private non-profit land trust.   No money whatsoever is received from the town or State.   The land is open to the public, free of charge and all money received is from private donations.

Without the support of the local community the association's work would simply be unable to continue.   With a staff of just three (and amazingly the land manager works only part time) and volunteer assistance, the many miles of hiking trails must be maintained and the surrounding forests preserved.

The reservations are multi-use facilities open to hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers.

Debris has to be cleared, fallen trees removed from the hiking trails and water has to be diverted.   Erosion is a huge concern and the trails require constant repair.   The preservation of the surrounding forests is another enormous undertaking.

Donations can be made securely online at their website and the site has a wealth of information about the work of the trust and volunteer opportunities.   Land can also be donated in various ways to Steep Rock Association or your local land trust which not only protects the land for generations to come but usually provides tax advantages too.

The Steep Rock summit is an ideal place to rest, take in the spectacular scenery, grab something to drink and eat a picnic.   The round-trip is a little less than three miles, and should take the average hiker no longer than an hour.


Steep Rock Association

P.O. Box 279, Washington Depot, Connecticut 06794

(860) 868-9131


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