Unbended Knee is No Way to be Free - Walking Zoar

Zoar Scenic Trail, Paugussett State Forest, Newtown CT
Zoar Scenic Trail, Paugussett State Forest, Newtown CT
Newtown will never again be Newtown just.
For the next century it will be known as that place where the massacre happened.
Morbid curiosity will bring tourists from far and wide, who will descend on Newtown with Ouija boards and candles. Ghost hunters will camp through the nights in grave yards. Satanists will perform rituals in the forests, and anarchists will hold rallies.
Politicians will continue to come - to wrap themselves in 'compassion' and to add punctuation to the eternal call 'to end violence' in all of its forms - from novels to video games; and of course, to take away our sacred guns - without which no person could survive a single day in this oppressive nation where your next-door neighbor is to be feared and defended against with fortress and artillery.

And, not to be outdone, the NRA and its faithful flock will be sure to stake a permanent presence in Newtown so as to remind us that: if only we had armed ourselves more - with more powerful weapons and sent our children to school packing heat - then why certainly - the damages would have been limited - the massacre less ghastly.

But, if you can get past all this Newtown is a lovely place. Tucked in on the banks of America's most scenic river, The Housatonic, the opportunities for recreation and spiritual revival abound.
Try a walk on The Zoar Blue Blazed Trail in Newtown, and you will begin to believe that Newtown is a real place - not just a national news story.

Winter Forest, Paugusett State Forest, Newtown CT

There are few loop trails on the list of CT Blue Blazed Trails.The Zoar Trail is one of them, which is convenient for a lone-wolf hiker like myself. In most cases I have to hike a trail twice - once out, and once back.

So, I had every intention of hiking the whole trail, all 7 miles of it in one 3 hour shot. And, had I not decided to go swimming in Priton Brook in January I might have met my goal.

Priton Brook, Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT

Yeah, I like to hike in winter, so what? Well it turns out, that the logs that cross streams are ice covered in January, and it also turns out that the streams which are normally trickles, are rushing and pooling - 4 ft deep in some places. So, naturally I decided to scamper across an ice covered log over a 4ft deep pool of fresh melted refreshingly chilled winter water. What could possibly go wrong?

Being soaked up to my chest, and after 60 seconds of panic, I decided to cut part of my hike. I continued alongside Priton Brook up in elevation until I met the Blue Blazed trail where it crossed again on the double-back. That cut out a mile or two, and most of the scenic panoramas of Lake Zoar from higher elevations.

Dew Drops, Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT

Surprisingly, I wasn't shivering my way towards hypothermia. This unusually warm and mild January afternoon I was actually quite warm and hiked the remainder of the trail without a hat or mittens. In fact, I was sweating though most of it.

The whole trail is worth the going. The 'back 40' so to speak is even more thrilling than the waterfront trails in some ways. There were exhilarating climbs through the ravines of Paugusett State Forest. And, all around the melting snow fed rushing streams and riverlets.
Pryden Falls, Priton Brook, The Zoar Trail, Newtown CT
Pryden Falls, Priton Brook, The Zoar Trail, Newtown CT
But, Pryden Falls is the destination on The Zoar Trail. I can imagine that in summer it is mostly dry. But, in the Winter or Spring it is an impressive falls.

This is where Priton Brook spills over several cascading rock falls and feeds into Zoar Lake. In the right season, Pryden Falls would make a romantic picnic spot.

Kettletown State Park is directly across Lake Zoar (The Housatonic) from Pryden Falls. There is a decent family campgrounds with actual running water at Kettletown.

And, another great waterfall to check out is nearby in Oxford - Southford Falls.

This whole area is a welcome escape from Urban Fairfield County, and well ... still within the boundaries of Fairfield.  It's just a remote corner, overlooked, and never heard of, ... that is ... it was never heard of before December 2012.

Sandy Hook is still as it is described, a sandy hook in the landforms along The Housatonic River. It is a great, and safe, place to bring your kids. So, come on - enjoy yerself.



COUNTY: Fairfield
Housatonic River
Lake Zoar
Pryden Falls


Address for your GPS: 999 Great Quarter Rd Sandy Hook, CT 06482
| coordinates: N41.402212,W073.188089 |

From Bridgeport30 Minutes
From New Haven40 Minutes
From Hartford1 Hour
From New London1.5 hours
From Providence2.5 Hours
From New York1.5 Hour


Paugusett State Forest Trail Map

Another Blog Post about Zoar

CTMQ's experience hiking The Zoar

StateParks.com Paugusett State Forest Post


Lake Zoar, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT
Lake Zoar, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT

Pryden Falls, January 2013, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT
Pryden Falls, January 2013, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT

Pryden Falls, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT
Pryden Falls, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT

Pryden Falls, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT
Pryden Falls, The Zoar Trail, Sandy Hook - Newtown CT

Snowman on The Zoar Trail - January 2013 - Sandy Hook - Newtown CT
Snowman points the way on The Zoar Trail - Newtown CT