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The mission of Great Mountain Forest is to be a leader in forest stewardship. We practice sustainable forest management, promote biodiversity and resilience to climate change, support education and research, and welcome all who love the woods.

Great Mountain Forest 

January 2023

In this issue:

Fall Decrease in Observed Wildlife in GMF

Spotlight on the High Pocket Swamp Trail

Lecture Series Presentation and the FAQ

Weather...or Not

Fall Decrease in Observed Wildlife in GMF

The hunters who help manage the deer population in GMF monitor wildlife as well, logging 1066 hours of observations in Fall 2022. From their reports, GMF established that this year spongy moth caterpillars (Lymantria dispar dispar, formerly called gypsy moth) on oak trees brought about a reduced yield of acorns. Coupled with a low beech nut crop, this reduction in food sources may have contributed to the sighting of only one bear, four coyotes, two bobcats, one ruffed grouse, and twelve turkeys from September through the middle of December.


Interestingly, one monitor discovered a complete moose skeleton on top of Blackberry Hill; the skull and antlers were brought to the Forestry Office for study. Accurate aging would have required sending the teeth to a lab for analysis of the rings, much like dating a tree However, as a moose grows and continues to feed on woody plants, the teeth wear down distinctively allowing age estimates by comparison to known tooth wear and tear.  This was a relatively young bull.


Using footage from the network of trail cameras, GMF staff were able to identify the specific moose whose skeleton was found from its antler pattern. The size of the “bell” or dewlap, largest in young males, suggests the moose was 2.5 to 3.5 years old. The cause of death is unknown.


Spotlight on The High Pocket Swamp Trail

Part of this trail crosses the property of an adjoining landowner who graciously welcomes hikers on this trail; please be respectful of the privilege. 


The High Pocket Swamp Trail is reached from Chattleton Road about 750 feet south of the West Gate parking lot at 200 Canaan Mountain Road in Falls Village. The trail is perfect for those who want a nice meandering hike through various forest types dotted with points of historical interest.


A stone wall marks the old Dean Farm. Over 240,000 miles of these farmstead walls are estimated to be hidden throughout New England forests. A second clue that this area was cultivated is the apple tree. Further on is the view of a Norway spruce plantation now covering a site once leased by the Torrington Brass Company for its employees to grow potatoes. The forest eventually opens to the namesake swamp with grand trees on the periphery and a fern-covered floor. To the northwest of the swamp, the keen eye might catch a glimpse of the remnants of a collier’s fireplace dating back to 19th-century charcoal production.


The final stretch comprises younger and mixed-age forests. The trail ends at Potter’s Corner, named after a sawyer from the 1850s, complete with the remnants of the cellar hole of his house. From this point, the Camp Road continues east to Old Man McMullen Pond while the Chattleton Road loops back to the starting point. 

Lecture Series Presentation and the FAQ, “Did Indigenous Peoples Live in Great Mountain Forest?”

In “Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing,” the first of this season’s GMF Winter Lecture Series featured Darlene Kascak and Susan Scherf of the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT. Addressing the standing-room-only audience at the David Hunt Library in Falls Village on how indigenous traditional knowledge can be combined with Western perspectives, the speakers argued that such transcultural collaboration might leave the world a better place for future generations.


An occasional question to GMF is whether specific sites in the forest are tied to Native Americans and which tribes those might have been. The Mohican-affiliated tribe in the area was the Weantinock (Wawyachtonoc) people, whose descendants are now the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. (The Algonquin language used by these groups supplies many words used in English, starting with “quonehtacut,” which means “long tidal river.”) The valleys around Great Mountain Forest are known to have had settlements, but the area that is now GMF was used only as a hunting ground.

Quartzite arrowhead found at Great Mountain Forest

Weather...or not

GMF is a reporting station for the National Weather Service; any news outlet's “staff meteorologist” uses data collected and submitted daily by Russell Russ. His monthly weather summaries and various weather facts and figures are available on our website. Click on the link below to visit our weather page!

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Forest Notices

Welcome to the forest!

GMF is a place of peaceful co-existence for everyone

  • Keep your dog on a leash and if you pack it in--pack it out.

  • Sign in at kiosks at the East and West Gates.

  • Watch for inclement weather notices on social media and website.

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GMF is critical to the environmental and economic sustainability of the region as well as an important contributor to research and education about climate change and environmental health. Help us support the forest as a vital natural resource and a place for those who love the woods.

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