General Description: Loop #5 starts on the Blue Circle as it climbs up a hill with views of the valley below, winds through a Mountain Laurel forest and crosses a valley. You’ll take the Green Circle trail and a portion of the Green Rectangle trail for the return trip. The Green trails cross over bridges, hug along and below an impressive granite rock ridge and takes you by the standing remains of Westwood’s beloved Great Hemlock Tree.
Difficulty: An easy to moderate hike with a couple of fairly steep climbs.
Weather considerations: Rain/snow may cause some slippery conditions especially on climbs and descents. Lower areas often have wet conditions.
Distance: 2.93 miles
Duration: 90 minutes
Sights: A secret Dunk Rock mailbox, Mountain Laurel Forest, Granite rock formations with a rock fissure, remains of the Great Hemlock tree and an old colonial road. You’ll also see many young volunteer Eastern White Pine trees taking root in the forest replacing the Hemlocks that succumbed to the Wooley Adelgid bug.
Hiking Narrative: The loop begins at entrance #1. Park at the lower parking lot on Dunk Rock Road.
- Begin on the Blue Circle located on the left side of the parking lot. The trail will parallel the road as it climbs a small hill. Note a large rock on your left as you start out. Look for a secret mail box in the rock used by hikers and Westwoods volunteers.
- Blue Circle makes a steep climb. Note the lovely view of the valley below.
- Blue Circle winds through a Mountain Laurel Forest. Mountain Laurel is Connecticut’s state flower and typically blooms in early June.
- Blue Circle climbs down a hill. You will cross the Blue Rectangle trail and continue on the Blue Circle as it descends further into a valley.
- The Blue Circle will merge with the Red Diamond trail for a while.
- Continue straight on the Blue Circle as the Red Diamond goes left.
- Blue Circle begins to climb.
- Blue Circle crosses the power line.
- Continue on Blue Circle as it crosses the eastern section of the Yellow Triangle loop.
- Blue Circle makes a steep climb.
- Blue Circle merges with the west section of the Yellow Triangle for a brief period.
- Stay right on Blue Circle as it splits from the Yellow Triangle.
- Blue Circle ends when it meets up with Green Circle and Green Square. Begin your return trip by taking a right on Green Circle as it climbs a hill.
- Green Circle goes over a bridge.
- Green Circle makes a sharp right when you meet up again with the Green Square.
- Green Circle merges with Red Diamond for a while.
- Make a right on Green Circle as Red Diamond continues to the left.
- Note the classic pink granite rock formation. There is a narrow rock fissure for the adventurous (and very skinny!) to squeeze through.
- Green Circle crosses back over power line again.
- Shortly after power lines, Green Circle makes a left.
- Green Circle crosses the Blue Rectangle. You are now on both the Green Circle and Green Triangle.
- Green Circle makes an immediate left turn and hugs along the ridge.
- Green Circle passes by the still standing remains of the Great Hemlock. The Great Hemlock was once over 125 feet tall with a diameter of 46 inches. It survived the 1938 hurricane, an ice storm in the 1970’s and gypsy moths in the 1980’s. It succumbed to the Wooley Adelgid bug brought into our area from Hurricane Gloria in the 1980’s.
- Make a right on Green Rectangle. The Green Rectangle trail was once Great Marsh Road, an old colonial road connecting Guilford Center with Moose Hill.
- Continue on Green Rectangle as Green Triangle goes right.
- Green Rectangle takes a right and goes over the bridge.
- Note the rock commemorating Bernard Kane, a tireless builder, advocate and supporter of the Westwoods Trails.
- Continue on Green Rectangle as it makes a right at the fork. Green Triangle will fork to your left.
- Cross over your last bridge and the parking lot should be in view shortly.