Plan Your Visit

Please carefully review our rules before your visit. Among other things, we have a strict carry in/carry out policy (there are no trash receptacles at the preserve), DOGS MUST BE LEASHED AT ALL TIMES and picked up after, and camping and campfires are strictly prohibited. Great Hollow is private property and anyone violating these rules will be asked to leave. Thank you for your cooperation.


Take a Hike!

Great Hollow’s grounds and more than 4 miles of hiking trails are open to the public daily, from sunrise to sunset, all year. There is no fee, although donations can be made at the trailhead kiosks if inclined. Click here for a trail map and read our rules before your visit. Note that camping and campfires are strictly prohibited except for Sponsor Level members and above. Black bears are fairly common in the area and although they are generally harmless, please take proper precaution and be “bear aware” before you hike.

The moderately easy, 0.6-mile long Green Trail begins near the visitor parking area by Great Hollow’s main entrance off of Route 37 and leads towards Quaker Brook. There, you will cross the original bridge for Haviland Hollow Road that dates back to the horse carriage days of old. The trail then straddles the Connecticut-New York border as it heads north along the edge of a large, open wetland that is maintained by the periodic damming of Quaker Brook by beavers. Keep your eyes open for the beaver dam, lodge, and even the beavers themselves!

The moderately easy, 0.6-mile long Red Trail leads you along the opposite side of the beaver impoundment, through a former livestock grazing area and pumpkin patch before heading into the mature forest. You’ll cross over a deep pool in Quaker Brook, where brook trout love to hang out. Take a peek into the water and you’re likely to see them. As you make your way into the forest, you’ll notice the remnants of a miniature homestead, including a tiny log cabin, that was built by children of the old YMCA camp that once ran on Great Hollow’s property. Up the hill, the trail will lead you to the New York border (and our property line), which you will need to cross to connect to our Orange Trail. Follow the posted directions. This will lead you past the beautiful Tucker’s Run waterfall – a great place to relax or even take a dip in the deep pool below the falls!

Our 0.7-mile Orange Trail is flat in most sections and easy walking. This trail leads you through mixed hemlock-hardwood forest, including an open area that is regenerating after timber was harvested about 10 years ago. This is a great spot to look for birds and other wildlife taking advantage of the ample sun and food resources in this forest opening that provides important habitat heterogeneity.

From the Orange and Red Trails, you can connect to the 0.7-mile long Yellow Trail. This trail can also be accessed from Route 37, where parking for a small number of cars is available in front of the red barn with the white silo. From there, you can either descend down a steep section of trail into a beautiful ravine with old growth tulip trees, or head south through an open meadow towards the Red Trail and Great Hollow’s main campus. The ravine is a perfect cool and shady spot to take a break while listening to the soothing sounds of Quaker Brook on a hot summer day. There you will see massive downed trees and other damage that is the result of the severe storm that devastated much of New Fairfield on May 15, 2018.

The 1.1-mile Purple Trail stretches from Route 37 to the north end of Great Hollow, at Hardscrabble Road. The lower section, connecting the Orange and White Trails, meanders along the side of a steep ridge and is difficult. At the top of the ridge, the Purple Trail and adjacent 0.6-mile long White Trail are moderately easy as they lead you through dense mountain laurel and oak forest. This is the quietest and least visited part of Great Hollow, but one of the most pristine and beautiful. Parking for a small number of cars is available at the trail head off of Hardscrabble Road.

Other Things to See and Do During Your Visit

Stop to see our resident birds of prey that are on display year-round. We currently have two barred owls, two eastern screech owls, and two red-tailed hawks. These birds have permanent injuries from automobile collisions that prevent them from being able to survive in the wild, so they are used as ambassadors for their species in our children’s education programs.

Climb up the observation tower to take in a bird’s eye view of the wetland and Great Hollow’s grounds. Last one to the top is a rotten egg!

Have a picnic on any of our expansive lawns. Feel free to put down a blanket or set up some chairs, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of a historic New England farmstead. We also have picnic tables in many scenic locations along our hiking trails for you to enjoy (refer to trail map for locations).

Check out our pollinator garden, featuring nearly 20 labeled species of native flowering plants that provide important resources for insect pollinators, like butterflies. There, you can learn about the fascinating life cycle and long-distance migration of the monarch butterfly, why pollinators are so ecologically and economically important, and how you can help pollinators at your home.