This state forest includes a 50-acre parcel in Tolland that is adjacent to the river and offers easy walking along a mile-long gravel road.
This stretch of the river is part of the Cole W. Wilde Trout Management Area, which offers year-round catch-and-release fly-fishing.
Canoes and kayaks can be launched next to the picnic area. Check the Canoe and Kayak Guide for details about the river's hazards, features and launch sites. This section of the river is classed as quick-water, which is appropriate for experienced river paddlers.
No hunting is allowed in this part of the Forest.
The Forest entrance is at the west end of the Route 74 bridge in Tolland. There are several pull-off parking lots along the Forest road.
See Headwaters Map
As you walk along the Forest's loop road, note the appeal of this site for an early settler - level land along the river for crops, and hillside forests (across Route 74) for pasture and timber. The river provided water and fish. Ebenezer Nye was granted this land along the river to establish a homestead around 1720. The Nye family also had a toll bridge at this spot, where the Tolland Stage Road approaches the river through a gap in the high ridge to the west. "Nye's Bridge" linked Tolland Green to West Willington, which was established across the river around 1727.
By the 1750's, the Nye family had land on both sides of the river, and it was farmed by Ebenezer and six generations of his descendants. His great, great, great granddaughter, Alice Holman Hall, inherited part of the farm. In 1931, she gave this land to the state (186 acres on the Tolland side). She requested that the Forest be named for her grandmother, a Nye, and her grandfather, William Holman, who lived on the farm after their marriage. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) planted evergreens on the farm fields in the 1930's to create a demonstration forest, and today the majestic trees offer shelter and food for a variety of wildlife.
Where the Forest road curves left, you can venture onto an informal trail along the river under tall pines. Wildflowers and ferns border the path, which is used by fishermen who enjoy year-round fly-fishing here. This trail meanders for a half-mile up the river before looping back to the gravel road. Further along the Forestís gravel road, Pero Road (a private road) goes to the right past fields and an older house that may have been one of the Nye family homes. This road once was part of North River Road, which continues on the other side of I-84 to more former home sites of Nye relatives. The gravel road ends at the Forestís upper entrance on Route 74. Walking along the highway is not recommended, so return to your car along the Forest road and perhaps enjoy a picnic along the river.
Thanks to Deborah Nye Corgan and to Marilyn Aarestad, former Forest Supervisor, for their assistance.
Photo: V. Wetherell
This Willimantic River Greenway Parks and Trails Guide was produced by the Willimantic River Alliance and WINCOG. Information in this guide reflects conditions and features as of Spring, 2008. Since conditions change over time, the Alliance is not responsible for changes at this site. This guide was funded with support from the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc.