McCulloch Family Open Space
The Town of Old Lyme completed its purchase of 312 acres from David McCulloch/the Jean A. McCulloch Farm LLC in 2019, and the McCulloch Family Open Space (PDF) opened to the public on National Trails Day, June 6, 2020.
The beautiful property features three trails.
"Tree in the Gap" trail: This trail is accessed from Whippoorwill Road. A parking lot is available at the trail head, almost 3 miles from Route 1 or 3.5 miles from Mile Creek Road. Be cautious entering and exiting the parking area onto the roadway. The "Tree in the Gap" trail connects to the blue trail (PDF) within the Old Lyme Land Trust Lay-Allen Preserve, allowing for a vigorous longer hike with some steep sections. Alternatively, visitors can use this trail for a short, easy walk to Rook's Meadow and Jimmy's Pond, described below.
Red trail: A second trail begins from Flat Rock Hill Road. Parking is permitted on the road cul-de-sac. Please respect homeowners' property as the trail briefly runs alongside a private driveway.
Yellow trail: Parking is not available at this trail head, which is accessible only by pedestrian and bicycle access. Vehicle parking on the pentway from Whippoorwill Road to the trailhead is prohibited. Hikers may access the yellow trail from the red trail, via either Flat Rock Hill Road or the Lay-Allen Preserve.
Rook's Meadow and Jimmy's Pond: A lovely meadow overlooking a peaceful pond is a short walk from the "Tree in the Gap" trailhead. A hand-hewn bench is in the meadow for visitor use. This is a wonderful spot for quiet contemplation, plein air painting, reading a book or just taking a relaxing lunch break.
Property History: Warren and Rook McCulloch, with their children, moved to Old Lyme in the late 1920's, and purchased about 450 forested acres on the cusp of the Great Depression.
Over the years and generations, the McCulloch property served many purposes - a summer camp for city children, a working farm attracting kids who came to work and stayed, and a breeding farm for Morgan horses.
Warren and Rook's children, Dave McCulloch, Jean Vasiloff and Taffy Holland, so loved the property they gave The Nature Conservancy a conservation easement to "protect and preserve" the property in perpetuity.
While the Nature Conservancy easement protected the land from development, it did not allow for public access to, and enjoyment of, the property's forests, fields and waterways.
As a signature Old Lyme property, it had always been a key priority for open space acquisition.
The McCulloch Farm, established in 1929, is considered one of Old Lyme's signature properties and, as such, has been a key priority for open space acquisition.
The property holds particular ecological importance as part of the upper watershed of the Black Hall River, a tributary of the Connecticut River which is part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
It also offered an opportunity to create a naturally significant greenway and forest, and greatly further a long-held goal of establishing a cross-town trail system when linked to the town's Ames Open Space, and to the adjacent Lay-Allen Preserve owned by the Old Lyme Land Trust.
The purchase was completed entirely with funds from Old Lyme's Open Space Fund.
Enjoy the property: The Open Space Commission only asks that hikers and visitors respect the property and leave trails in the condition you find them (or better). There are no trash bins, so please take out all your waste, including that of dogs.