CT Hikes: Enders State Forest

Granby, Connecticut

Enders Brook Gorge
Looking Down the Enders Brook gorge from one of six waterfalls
© 2011 J. G. Coleman Photography

I’ve always felt a deep affinity with woodland rivers; there’s something about rushing water, picturesque waterfalls, and gentle cascades over moss-laden rock that speak to me in a way which can only be understated with words. Throughout hundreds of miles of hiking in Connecticut to produce fine-art landscape photography, waterfalls and rivers have become some of my favorite subjects and I never tire of discovering fresh, new locations. In fact, my latest trek to Enders State Forest in Granby, Connecticut left me awestruck. I thought I’d already laid eyes on the full-range of impressive waterfalls in the state, but this this 2,000-acre parcel of woods taught me that I shouldn’t be so quick to think I’ve seen it all!


Enders State Forest in Granby, Connecticut
(View Larger Map)

Enders State Forest is, first and foremost, a generous swath of state-managed woodlands, but Enders Brook* is the real gem that makes this place so incredible. For about a half-mile of its run through the forest, the shallow river races beneath the canopy and careens over six or seven different cliffs and ledges, making this little niche in Granby more dense with waterfalls than perhaps anywhere else in the state. All of the waterfalls are somewhat evenly-spaced along the course of the brook, each separated from the others by idyllic pools that slip through deep, jagged ravines carved in the bedrock and blanketed with moss and ferns.

1st Waterfall at Enders State Forest
1st Waterfall on Enders Brook
© 2011 J. G. Coleman Photography

The parking lot at Enders State Forest is sizable, so you won’t have to vie with other visitors for a place to leave your car. Those of you that would prefer to get right to the meat-and-potatoes of this impressive landscape will be delighted to discover that Enders Brook, and the trail that follows its course, lies only a few hundred feet from the parking lot. Almost immediately, you’ll discover “Waterfall #1″. This first waterfall is really more of a cascade, since there isn’t a good deal of free-fall involved… but it’s only a tiny taste of what lies ahead. As you continue downstream, you’ll encounter a slightly more impressive Waterfall #2, which ups the ante but keeps it humble. Even further downstream comes Waterfall #3… Waterfall #4… #5… #6. I won’t venture to describe each of the waterfalls at length (you can see many of them in the accompanying photographs), but it should suffice to say that as you travel further down the gorge, the falls generally become more and more impressive. The final waterfall, Waterfall #6, is quite large by Connecticut standards and serves as a beautiful terminus for this half-mile cataract.

Large Fallen Trees in a Waterfall at Enders State Forest
Large Fallen Trees in a Waterfall at Enders State Forest
© 2011 J. G. Coleman Photography

I haven’t hiked any lengthy woodland trails at Enders State Forest, primarily because I’m drawn so strongly to Enders Brook. Amidst the weathered stone of the gorge and the persistent sound of falling water echoing up the ravine, this place feels truly primeval. For a moment, you are lulled into forgetting that modern civilization is close-by in the suburbs of Granby. And, if you manage to get there early in the morning before other visitors begin arriving, you can nearly be drawn back into ancient times. The gorge seems to possess an arresting aura and incite a peculiar intuition that Enders Falls have been coursing through this place long before English pioneers arrived… even before the first Native Americans migrated here from the West. Indeed, it would seem that this place has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, ever since glaciers relinquished their icy grip on the terrain. For those that can immerse themselves in its beauty, Enders Brook imparts a sublime appreciation for the relative timelessness of nature. I left this place with a peculiar contentment, knowing that this brook was here long before I existed and that it will still be faithfully cascading through the forest long after I am gone.

Slide Falls at Enders State Forest
“Sliding” Waterfall at Enders State Forest
© 2011 J. G. Coleman Photography

Enders State Forest can be found in Granby, Connecticut, a town in the far-north of the state that lies less than 10 miles from the Massachusetts border. But perhaps I can better convey the location of Enders State Forest by mentioning that it is less than 5 miles southwest of the distinctive “notch” in Connecticut’s northern border. For those that live in the southernmost reaches of Connecticut, the drive out to this forest will probably be quite long; for me, that means a 45-mile trip from Meriden… residents of towns like Stamford and Norwalk can anticipate a lengthy 90-mile haul. But if you can endure the drive, you are sure to be rewarded with some breath-taking scenery. You can even double-up on your helping of Northern Connecticut’s beautiful parks with a subsequent visit to Campbell Falls State Park in Norfolk or Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union.

Final Waterfall at Enders State Forest
Final Waterfall at Enders State Forest
© 2011 J. G. Coleman Photography

* After returning from Enders State Forest, I checked numerous maps in an effort to determine the name of the brook that runs through the woodlands. After considerable investigation, I came to the conclusion that the brook does not actually possess any “official” name. In a last ditch effort, I contacted Granby Leisure & Recreation Services in hopes that locals knew a bit more about the landscape. The Granby Director of Community Development, Fran Armentano, wrote me back: “It’s typically referred to as Enders Brook, which is a tributary to the West Branch of the Salmon Brook.”

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Responses & Comments
Kathaleen Kelly
July 21, 2011
Beautiful photography and the information is helpful.
Dave
March 1, 2012
Enjoyed the Read and your photography Spent leap day 2012 there doing some Bouldering and hiking.
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