at Colchester Pond
Welcome to Colchester Pond Hiking Trail! We hope you enjoy your trek along the water's edge.
Your hike will begin in hay fields along the western shore of the pond, near the boat launch. As you may have noticed, the land on this side of the pond has a history of agricultural use. In the nineteenth century, eighty percent of Vermont was open pasture land. Now only about twenty five percent is open.
If you are hiking in the summer, you may behold some beautiful wildflowers growing in the fields, including Wild Rose, Milkweed, Vipers Bug Gloss, and St. Johnswort.
As you continue northward along the shore, you may notice some fields that have been recently abandoned. What evidence can you find that supports this? Did you notice that there are shrubs and trees growing here? This is part of a process called old field succession.
As you walk along the trail, you can see this succession. The meadows are mainly grasses, except on the edges of the old fields, where larger trees have grown (note the beautiful, large, broccoli shaped American Elm to the left of the path). Along the margins of the fields are other herbaceous, non-woody plants, bushes (such as Honeysuckle, raspberries, black berries, Wild Roses, and Sweet Fern), and small trees (Buck Thorn, Hawthorn, and White Pine). Then larger trees and bushes appear, and gradually the path becomes surrounded by woods. As you progress along the trail, the trees change from large softwoods and primarily coniferous trees (such as White Pines and Juniper), to predominantly deciduous hardwoods (with canopy trees such as Red Oak, White Oak, Beech, Shag Bark Hickory, and Red Maple, and smaller understory trees like elm, Cherry, Hop Hornbeam, Striped Maple, and June berry). On the forest floor are more herbaceous plants (such as False Solomon's Seal, Enchanter's Night Shade, Lady Fern, Marginal Fern, Hog Peanut, and White Baneberry). The trail begins to climb uphill away from the pond, and Big Tooth Aspen appear.
The path proceeds around the north end of the pond, and there is a peninsula trail down to the campsite on the northern point. The main path continues around the pond, along the ridge above the eastern cliffs, and ends in the fields near the rock point to the southeast of the pond. As you hike, watch for animal tracks, such as from deer and moose, which live around the pond. If you want to see the Champlain valley from new heights, explore the extensive trail system on the far side of the pond. There's a trail head which starts at the southeast field and heads east into the forest. Crossing a beaver pond and heading up into the hills, you might find the overlook on the west side of Bringham Hill, and a breathtaking view to complete your hike!