The Devil's Den is a Great Hike in Fairfield County

Rene Cizio

The Devil’s Den Preserve in Connecticut is over 1,700 acres of pristine forested New England land perfect for hiking and spending time in nature. I visited the preserve during my two-year road trip as a nomad traveling in my van, hiking, seeing historic areas, and staying in short-term rentals, and I returned several times.
Photo byRene Cizio

Also known as the Lucius Pond Ordway, the Devil’s Den Preserve is the largest protected woodland preserve in Fairfield County and one of the biggest just 45 minutes outside New York City. As part of the Nature Conservancy, the massive wildlife sanctuary protects large swaths of contiguous forest and watershed lands in an excellent patchwork of woodlands, wetlands, rock ledges, ridges, valleys, streams and swamps.

I stayed in nearby Wilton, Connecticut, but no matter where you’re coming from, getting to the preserve is part of the fun. All roads leading to Devil’s Den are narrow, two-lane highways filled with old stone walls, historic homes, and trees. It is a classic New England beauty and a splendid afternoon drive not to be missed.
Photo byRene Cizio

The windows in my van were down as I drove slowly through the winding roads, the air faintly scented of pine and moss, the birds chirping wildly to greet me. The birds in Connecticut have been one of my favorite experiences. Everywhere I go, the birds are different than in my homeland – Michigan. Here, in these lush woods, they’re a bit more colorful and much more vocal. Often, as I fall asleep at night, it was to the trill of songbirds outside my window. Devil’s Den is ideal for hiking and bird-watching.


I’m an avid hiker, but the name “Devil’s Den” gave me pause. It’s not the most welcoming name, but it’s misleading because there is nothing devilish about the place. Well, almost nothing.

The land became public through a donation from Katharine Ordway of Weston. She was an heiress who donated the land through a series of gifts. The name Lucius Pond Ordway was given in honor of her father. It was once a popular location for fishing, hunting and trapping.

The historical significance of the areas stems from archaeological evidence that humans have been active here for as many as 5,000 years as a prime hunting location. More recently, sawmills, lumber and charcoal operations were prominent. Dozens of sites in the preserve have evidence of charcoal burning in the 1800s; that’s when the name “Devil’s Den” became well-known.
Photo byRene Cizio

Today, more than 40 sites have scattered stone debris from the coal industry. A display on Laurel Trail shows how workers conducted the coal-burning practice.


Miners fille the land when the commercial production of charcoal in the 1800s was a significant industry in the preserve. These colonist coal miners named the site “Devil’s Den.” Historic stories say the miners found a large cloven hoof-like mark scoured into a boulder and said it was so large the devil himself could have only made it.
Photo byRene Cizio

They say you can still see the footprint, er hoof-print, embedded in a rock off Godfrey Trail, but I couldn’t find it. What I did find were spectacular, well maintained and considerately marked trails.


The trails, forests and watershed is an oasis for wildlife and creates a rustic, natural environment for humans. Because a large portion of the watershed of the Saugatuck River flows through the area, there are many aquatic animals and rare mussel species. It also includes part of the extended 70-mile ”Saugatuck Valley Trails System.”
Photo byRene Cizio

You’ll find more than 500 types of trees and wildflowers throughout the trail system. Signage and literature showed pictures of ladies’ slippers, cardinal flowers, and Indian pipe flowers you don’t see many places. I didn’t see any animals, but there are foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and eastern copperhead snakes. What I did see and hear plenty of were the birds. The preserve boasts over 140 bird species, including wood duck, ruffed grouse, and pileated woodpecker.
Photo byRene Cizio

The area directly around Godfrey Pond is the most popular and includes over 20 miles of trails. Godfrey Pond began when workers dammed two brooks to use for their sawmill. Now it’s a small lake, and getting there is a relatively short hike past flowing streams along relatively flat terrain. The pond loop is just 1.2 miles long, circles the lake, and shows the old damming structures. Other trails include:

  • Godfrey Pond Loop is 1.2 miles
  • Blue Blazes to the Ledge Pillar 4.9 miles
  • Great Ledge and Bedford Trail Loop 4.4 miles
  • Devil’s Den Preserve Trail 7.8 miles

Because it’s a watershed, there is a lot of water in various locations and many small creeks to hop over. Several trails have picturesque footbridges and small wooden planks to get you around the wettest sections.


From the parking lot, there are a couple of different trailheads. I used AllTrails to help me locate the right one, but there’s a sign in the lot and paper maps too.  

Whichever trail you take, excellent signage and color coding help you find your way.

The Devil’s Den preserve closes annually in November and December for a controlled deer hunt.

Find it at 33 Pent Rd. Weston, CT 06883.

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 1

Published by

Solo traveler stories about places and things to do

Detroit, MI

More from Rene Cizio

Comments / 0