I love nature – it really cannot be said more simply than that. I have always been so impressed by its incredible displays of life, color and sound. And on a recent trip to the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown, Connecticut, I was fortunate enough to witness a beautiful showcase of some of nature’s finest work.
The tame, half-mile hike through the Rhododendron Sanctuary of Pachaug is often overlooked. Instead, hikers tend to hurry past this side trail and make their way to the summit of Mount Misery, one of the region’s most popular attractions. But from the end of June through mid-July, while the rhododendrons are in full bloom, this sanctuary trail is hands down one of the best excursions Pachaug has to offer.
The wild Rosebay Rhododendrons surround almost every inch of the trail, towering up to 30 feet above the forest floor. The brilliant white and pink flowers add a stark contrast to the lush green trees and ferns, adding a unique rainforest feel. But the most incredible part of the entire experience for me was not what could be seen, but rather it was what could be heard. The loud drone of hundreds of bumble bees flying from flower to flower made it seem like I had stuck my head into their hive. It was so amazing to just stand there and listen, definitely elevating the “cool” factor of this hike.
The wooden boardwalk weaving through the forest makes this trail wheelchair accessible, therefore allowing visitors of all abilities the chance to see the giant Rosebays. Pachaug is a truly beautiful place, proven by the colors and sounds of its Rhododendron Sanctuary, and is definitely worth the trip.