Five Reasons to Love Winter Walks

Winter’s days are shorter, and temperatures are dropping, but the good news is that we can reap the benefits of time in nature no matter the season. While it’s true that your layering strategy and jacket selection may take more thought, winter walks are a refreshing and restorative way to enjoy some of your favorite places. Here are five wonderful things about time in winter wonderlands.

  1. Time in nature benefits our mental health. A study from Stanford University found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area showed decreased activity in the region of the brain associated with a key component of depression. That holds true even for cold weather walks. NCLC has 22 public preserves for your winter walks.
  2. Cold weather walking has physical benefits. Studies indicate that exercise in cold weather may improve endurance because the body does not have to work as hard to cool down. Exercising in cold weather can transform white fat, which stores energy, into brown fat, which is metabolically active and can burn calories to generate heat. Read more.
  3. Winter offers new perspectives of favorite places. Winter transforms the forests and fields. On winter walks you can see farther into the forest and take in views that are blocked by leaves in the summer. Next time you’re out, take time to marvel at that rocky outcropping now covered with icicles. We’re big fans of the rock formations at the Herrick Preserve.
  4. Snow makes it easier to spot animal tracks! Learning to identify tracks is a fun way to know who else is sharing the woods with you. Have you ever seen the imprint wings make as birds take flight from the snowy ground? Read more. 
  1. Enjoy trails without the buzz of mosquitos. Need we say more?

You can continue walking NCLC’s 22 nature preserves all winter long.  Here are two great resources to make your outings safe and successful.

Hiking Essentials List

Winter Hiking Tips

Smyrski Farm Preserve Expanded! Safeguarding Agricultural Heritage and Natural Beauty

Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy (NCLC) proudly announces the permanent protection of an additional four acres of pristine pastureland within the Smyrski Farm Preserve. This expansion underscores NCLC’s ongoing commitment to preserving the region’s agricultural legacy and natural landscapes.

Smyrski Farm Preserve, NCLC’s flagship agricultural property, has been an integral part of the local community since 2008. Initially gifted to NCLC through a generous bequest from siblings Sophie and John Smyrski, the 220-acre farm is now leased to dedicated local farmers. Linda and Nick Pouder of Mayapple Hill Farm raise Coopworth sheep and produce a variety of sustainable products, including grass-fed lamb, pastured pork, fresh eggs, wool, yarn, woolen blankets, and small-batch maple syrup. Bill Stuart Jr. of Stuart Family Farm grazes part of his herd of red angus cattle on the preserve.

The 220-acre farm, which protects over a mile of the West Aspetuck River—a pristine drinking water resource—is home to historic white barns and the iconic 1763 red barn, both listed on the State’s register of historic buildings. NCLC also uses the farm and its red barn for educational and community programs.

While the original bequest in 2008 included most of the farm, a crucial four-acre parcel, adjacent to the historic red barn, was not part of the Smyrski family’s ownership but was vital to the overall integrity of the farm. With the active support of the local community, NCLC was able to acquire and permanently protect this inholding, ensuring the continuity of the farm and the use of the property for educational and community events.

“NCLC extends heartfelt gratitude to the community members whose unwavering support recognized the historic, agricultural, and ecological significance of preserving Smyrski Farm. This collective effort ensures that this treasured landmark will benefit the generations to come,” said Catherine Rawson, Executive Director.

An aerial view of Smyrski Farm in New Milford, Connecticut.