Part of Peoples State Forest, picture taken on Sunday, March 15.
Part of Peoples State Forest, picture taken on Sunday, March 15.

NORTHWEST CORNER — While we are in a time of the COVID-19 crisis, leaders of various outdoor groups are encouraging residents to take advantage of town trails, forests, and parks as long as they follow social distancing rules.
According to the Northwest Hills Council of Government’s (NHCG) Regional Trails website, there are over 540 miles of trails in the Northwest Corner.
“Exercise is important, even when we are stuck at home,” Winsted Trails co-chairman Ric Nalette said. “There are dozens of studies that say hiking out in nature is not only good for the body but also the brain. We need it now more than ever.”
“It’s really important now more than ever for people to go out and fresh air,” Friends of American Legion and Peoples State Forest (FALPS) member Erica Kostak Dyndiuk said. “As long as they are keeping their distance from each other and other hikers, I think it’s a great idea.”
Via its website, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has made the following recommendations to stay safe while hiking:
• Use appropriate social distancing by staying at least six feet from others. When you are passing someone on a trail, make sure to yield and allow for plenty of space.
• Go outdoors as a solitary activity or in a very small group. If you get to a place that is already crowded, find another place to go.
• Keep your germs to yourself. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve. If you are not feeling well, stay at home.
• Be careful about what you touch. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible at least before and after you go outdoors.
▪︎ “Go before you go” and limit the length of your trip since all restroom facilities are closed at state parks
• Do not pet dogs that are not your own. The COVID-19 virus reportedly can be spread on dog fur just like it can survive on other surfaces.
• Take out what you take in. This is always good to do, but especially important now.
The NHCG’s comprehensive tails website for the Northwest Corner is at
Winsted Trails’ Facebook page is at and Winsted Land Trust’s website is at
Both websites are sources for trails in the Winsted and Winchester Center area.
Nalette has several recommendations for hikers in the Winsted area.
“The Mad River Detention Basin is a great place to go hiking,” Nalette said. “It’s just a few miles west of downtown Winsted. But I would try to avoid the more popular trails. Some trails are being closed due to a lack of social distancing. For example, they just closed the Little Pond Boardwalk at The White Memorial Conservation Trail in Litchfield because people can’t stay 10 feet away from others on the trail. The Sue Grossman Trail and Winsted and Torrington, but it’s a very heavily used trail and cautions need to be taken if you are hiking it.”
The Colebrook Land Conservancy’s website, which includes hiking maps for the town, is at
“For Colebrook, I would recommend our newest trail on Deer Hill Road,” Organization trustee Amy Bernstein said. “It’s one of the most challenging trails, but it is really beautiful because it gives you views over the very terrific valley. “If you want to go on one that’s less challenging there is a trail on Hale Farm. It’s much more level than other trails. The Rockwell Trail is an easy trail and anybody can go on them. They are about a mile and they are great for children.”
The website for FALPS website is at and includes hiking maps of Peoples and American Legion State Forest.
“We have some great trails out here,” Dyndiuk said. “They are meant for everybody at every level of hiking because they go from very easy to a little more challenging. There are also some moderate trails for those who don’t want too much of a challenge but just want to get out and get fresh air.”
Norfolk Land Trust’s website is at and includes detailed information on trails in town.
“I am pushing for people to go out and take a walk,” Norfolk First Selectman Matthew Riiska said. “We have a lot of great land in our towns and a lot of great trails. As long as residents abide by what the state tells us and as long as people continue to keep their distance.”
Other resources: New Hartford Land Trust has maps of town trails at, while The Heritage Land Preservation Trust has maps of trails in Torrington at