Close this search box.


FAQS quick links

About Steep Rock

Steep Rock Association is a nationally accredited land trust in Washington, CT with four preserves (Steep Rock, Hidden Valley, Macricostas, and West Mountain) open to the public. SRA protects more than 5,765 acres with 175 acres of old growth forest (200+ years old), 70 acres of floodplain forest, 7.75 miles of the Shepaug River, and 33 rare or endangered species.

Steep Rock Association is a nationally accredited land trust whose mission is to conserve ecologically and historically significant landscapes and riparian corridors in and around Washington CT and to enhance the community’s connection to nature through outreach, education, and passive recreation.

In 1889, architect Ehrick Rossiter, a graduate of The Gunnery, was about to break ground on his country house when he discovered that the wooded hillside in his view was slated for clearcutting. He bought the land and saved forever the 186 acres that is now the heart of the Steep Rock Preserve. Rossiter built carriage roads and river crossings and invited fellow townspeople to enjoy the wild beauty of this section of the Shepaug River Valley. In 1925, to ensure its preservation, he donated the land to a group of trustees, who founded the Trust for Reservations. These trustees later purchased the 100-acre parcel known as the Clam Shell, thus preserving the view from the “Steep Rock” and all the land underneath. In 1961, the Trustees established Steep Rock Association as a land trust. By then the Steep Rock Preserve had grown to 582 acres. The Hidden Valley Preserve was created in 1961 when Trustee Adrian Van Sinderen and his wife Jean donated their 650-acre recreational property.

We currently have 48.75 miles of hiking trails with more trails planned for 2023

Based on our estimates, our four preserves host around 80,000 visitors per year

We have a year-round team of six hardworking employees, plus two seasonal staff, 5-6 summer interns, and an amazing group of over 200 volunteers

Steep Rock benefits from the energy of 5-6 paid interns each summer. Contact us in February of each year or check the website for more information.


Our preserves are open from sunrise to sunset

Our preserves are carry in/carry out (including dog waste).  Please keep our preserves clean

Planning ahead will usually keep you safe.  Make sure you have a map with you that does not require the internet (see question on maps). Pay attention to sunset so you are not trying to find your way back in the dark. If you run into trouble, call 911.

Detailed maps can be purchased at the Hickory Stick Bookshop, The PO Cafe, or on our online store. You can download simple maps from the Preserve page on our website, or download the Avenza Map App, an integrative mapping platform that uses GPS in your phone to geolocate you directly in SRA’s trail maps. You can also take a photo of the preserve map at any of our kiosks.

Removing plants, animals, or other natural objects is not allowed. Please help us protect the natural beauty and integrity of the preserves by not removing or destroying plants and wildlife

Many animals, from turtles and snakes to large mammals, call the Steep Rock preserves home. Do not approach or disturb wildlife; rather, enjoy observing them from a distance. Visit our website to learn how to report sightings of black bear, coyote, bobcat, fisher, and river otter

We have three primitive campsites located in Steep Rock Preserve which are available to rent between April and November. Book a site or find more information here

Important Note: Due to the Tunnel Road bridge replacement, camping is very limited for the 2023 season.

We offer 6.7 miles of bicycling trails and 21 miles of equestrian trails in Hidden Valley and Steep Rock Preserves.  Refer to the maps to stay on the appropriate trails. SR Trail Map HV Trail Map.pdf

Important Note: Due to the Tunnel Road bridge replacement, no horse trailers are allowed in Steep Rock Preserve for the 2023 season.

All the preserves have designated handicapped accessible parking. We also have an OPDMP policy. Please contact the office regarding accessible trails. We are working on adding ADA-accessible trails in certain preserves.

We do not have public restrooms in our preserves.

For the safety of our wildlife, other visitors, and your pet, all dogs must be on leash at all times and their waste must be bagged and removed (waste stations are located at the head of our trails near the main parking lots).

Steep Rock Association is fortunate to be located in Washington, CT which is home to many great food establishments and stores. Washington CT Official Tourism and Community Website | Explore Washington CT

Steep Rock Preserves are open to everyone at no charge but donations for trails and programs are greatly appreciated.


Generous people like you fund over 95% of Steep Rock’s conservation work along with foundation grants.

Thank you for asking. Steep Rock does not have a traditional governance membership, but we are donor supported, which means everything we accomplish happens because of generous people like you.

Steep Rock Association looks to protect property with high conservation and/or passive recreational value in a variety of ways.  Find more information here or reach out to us.

Volunteers are vital to the success of Steep Rock in so many ways. Take a look and see how you might help.


For all organized groups/structured events of 15 or more people, we require a group use permit to be submitted to our office at least 5 business days prior to the event.  No commercial activity, regardless of size of the activity, is allowed on our preserves without a special permit approved by the Executive Director.

SRA does not allow weddings or similar ceremonies in our preserves.

We are happy to carry some items on our online store. Maps, honey, and our award-winning book, “The History of Steep Rock Association” are also available at various stores in town.

Matching Gifts

 Did you know many companies match donations made by employees, employees’ spouses, and retirees, allowing employees to DOUBLE their generosity and impact? 

Contact your employer today to see if they will match your gift.


 If you are 70½ years of age or older, you can take advantage of a popular gift option called a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) also known as a IRA charitable rollover.  QCDs offer simple ways to benefit Steep Rock and receive tax benefits in return.

To learn more, visit here.

Stock or Wire

If you’d like to give a gift via wire or stock, please reach out to for our account information.


You can donate through your donor advised fund in just three clocks on our website
When granting through your donor-advised fund, please use the following information:

Our legal name: Steep Rock Association, Inc.
Tax ID: #06-6069060
Mailing address: PO Box 279, Washington Depot, CT 06794

Check Donations

Please make checks payable to Steep Rock Association. Our mailing address is:

Steep Rock Association
PO Box 279
Washington Depot, CT 06794