Guided walks offered through Wilton open spaces

Although it is right off Ridgefield Road, a few minutes’ walk down the yellow trail at the Sackett Preserve and all is quiet except for birdsong. This time of year, the just-budding trees give a clear view of woodlands, stone walls and wetlands.

This 33-acre property, acquired in 1999, is the first of five open spaces that make up Discover Outdoor Wilton, a series of free Saturday morning guided walks organized by the Wilton Conservation Commission and Wilton Garden Club Conservation Committee.

The first walk, at Sackett Preserve, takes place May 4 from 9 to 10. The rain date is Sunday from 10 to 11. The entrance is on Ridgefield Road, just south of DeForest Road. Leading the walk will be Tom Walker of the Wilton Land Trust.

The trails at Sackett Preserve wind their way through deciduous hardwoods, wetlands, bedrock ledges, and stands of beech, chestnut oak and scarlet oak. At this time of year the blue trail should lead through maple-leafed viburnum, swamp azalea, wild geranium, and hay-scented fern. Because of its proximity to the Marble/Van Haelewyn Preserve and Richards Preserve, the trails connect and loops can be followed through several preserves.

Walkers are encouraged to bring their cameras and consider entering the garden club’s 2013 photo calendar contest. All walks are easy and open to all ages. Friendly dogs on a leash are also welcome.

Future walks are:

• Town Forest: June 1, 9-10. Meet at the parking area on Branch Brook Road. With 190.8 acres, the Town Forest is Wilton’s largest open space park. This walk will follow the picturesque streamside trail of Barrett’s Brook that flows through the forest from Sheep’s Wash Falls to Branch Brook. The walk will be led by Conservation Commission Chairman Daniel Berg.

• Cherry Lane Park: July 6, 9-10. Meet near the intersection of Cherry Lane and Bank Drive. This park features a pond, stream and red maple swamp. Owls have been observed in the large planted stand of white pine and spruce. Conservation Commissioner Patrice Gillespie will lead the walk.

• Schenck’s Island: Aug. 3, 9-10. Meet at the north parking area off River Road. A beautiful oasis in the heart of Wilton, this is the only town-owned open space not primarily a woodland. Its open fields and meadow-like areas provide a habitat for wildflowers, which bloom continuously from spring to fall. Bruce Beebe of the Wilton Land Trust and Dean Keister of Trout Unlimited will lead the walk.

• Bradley Park: Sept. 7, 9-10. Meet at the end of Oak Ledge Lane. Just above Wilton Center, Bradley Park features a boardwalk trail that allows walkers into the heart of a red maple swamp. A variety of ferns and shrubs, including tall cinnamon ferns, fragrant sweet pepperbush and showy swamp azalea may be observed. Conservation Commissioners Donna Merrill and Susan DiLoreto will lead the walk.

According to Alice Levin, the garden club’s conservation committee, of which she is a member, pursues a project each year to enhance the environment in some way.

“The real discussion has been to get people outside,” she said. “We think it’s healthy to get people outdoors. A tremendous amount of money and effort has gone into making these open spaces.”

There is also a hope that if more people can be encouraged to visit the spaces and walk the trails, some may be inspired to volunteer to help maintain the trails.

Information: 203-761-9846 or 203-762-7287.