A weekend in the forest

The Fenton River runs along the Fenton tract in the UConn forest, located behind Horsebarn Hill on the Storrs Campus. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Fall semester is notoriously pretty at the University of Connecticut thanks to the large investments on landscaping and beautification every year, but students don’t have to go far to get lost in raw wilderness. The great thing about going to UConn is that there’s always a forest somewhere for hiking, camping or stress relieving walks. 

Take UConn Forest for example and the Fenton Tract right behind Horsebarn Hill. It’s a walk or bike ride away and could make for a nice weekend getaway. Mansfield Hollow is personally one of my favorite places to go around here. It’s about a 15 minute drive south off campus and includes a large, hilly forest full of trails and a gorgeous lake where I’ve often swam on hot summer days. Just next door is Diana’s Pool, a forested, rocky landscape full of fresh running water, peace and quiet. 

By no means do you have to hop into a car and drive off campus to get to nature. Adjacent to Mansfield Apartments, across from Price Chopper in Storrs Center, is a forested piece of land perfect for walks between classes or a jog. It’s called Moss Sanctuary and it’s the biggest piece of conserved land set aside by the town of Mansfield, where our university resides. The forest is full of winding paths, benches and rock walls connecting passerbies to the historic occupants that once lived on the land. I often sit on a bench overlooking Tift Pond and forget my day is packed with commitments, but nonetheless, the distraction is stress relieving. 

If you’re really committed to a weekend getaway into the forest, there are plenty of places across Connecticut to go. Last weekend I went on a class camping trip to Great Mountain Forest, a 6000-acre piece of land encompassing both the towns of Canaan and Norfolk in the northwestern part of state. I’d say this was the most beautiful and natural place I’ve ever been to in Connecticut and is well worth the hour and 45 minutes to get there. It’s an experience to see Connecticut the way it was, or as close to the way it was, hundreds of years ago when thick forests and wetlands blanketed the state. 

This weekend may foster in you a new appreciation for the natural world, or it may bring you back to childhood days at summer camp, swimming in lakes by day and roasting marshmallows to the sound of buzzing insects and crackling fire at night. Being on a campus, bogged down by classes, can be overwhelming, but easier to handle if you take some time for yourself. Humans have ventured into the wilderness many a time to get away from life for a little while, even if just for a weekend. 

With that said, you better do it quick. The weather is getting colder and as beautiful as fall is here in Storrs, it may not be so nice to be outdoors in the freezing cold. Get out there while the plants are still green the diversity of life is still bustling. After all, that’s one of the biggest draws about UConn’s rural, northeastern location. 


Diler Haji is a staff writer for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at diler.haji@uconn.edu.