Maintained Uses: walking, hiking, mountain biking
Surface: packed earth/dirt
Pets: permitted (dogs on leash)
Year Preserved: 2020
Atkinson Tract: 183.8 acres
Dirlam Tract: 40.95 acres
Atkinson Family Preserve/Thompson Brook Preserve is a relatively newly trailed property that encompasses a network of trails, including various loops. Parking is not immediately obvious but is located on the east side of Long Cove Road, along a roped off gravel road along power lines. Access to the trail system is through the roped off section. Going up the gravel road to the left takes you to the entrance for the blue loop and red loop trails. Look for diamond shaped trail markers that are color-coded (blue, red, and yellow markers, respectively), to help guide your hike. The packed earth and dirt trails are wide, ranging from 3 feet to wide open. Historic stonewalls and other rock features create a fascinating scene amongst the dense forest. You are sure to see blue jays and other birds, in addition to squirrels and white tail deer. The Explorer app will help navigate through tricky areas. Given the elevation changes of 200+ feet and over 3.5 miles of trail distance, this is an easy-moderate hike with occasional exposed rocks and roots. Also of note, Atkinson Family Preserve/Thompson Brook Preserve offers the opportunity for mountain bikers to get a good work out in. Pets are permitted (dogs on leash)
The Atkinson Family Preserve/Thompson Brook Preserve consists of two acquisitions on opposite sides of Long Cove Rd. in the Gales Ferry section of Ledyard, for a combined size of 228 acres. The preserve significantly expands the newly (2018) State recognized Great Oak Greenway, contributing over five miles of wide, compacted woods roads and additional single-track trails to create one of the largest trail systems in southeastern Connecticut. Environmentally, these properties contribute significantly to the Great Brook and Long Island Sound watersheds given the large streams that flow directly through the properties into Thompson Brook, onto Great Brook, then Groton Reservoir and beyond into Long Island Sound. This project was awarded a CT Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant, covering approximately 65% of the cost to acquire these vital properties. The Thompson Brook Preserve was formed in memory of Nancy Dirlam, who treasured the pristine beauty of this land.