POMFRET, VT – In a new series here at ABC22 & FOX44 News called ‘Your Hometown Stories’, we’ll be diving into major talking points that matter to your small communities, and in this first installment, we’re looking at the roads to Sleepy Hollow Farm in Pomfret that have been closed to leaf peepers this year due to prior bouts of overcrowding and trespassing.
This year on Saturday, Sept. 23, Pomfret town officials closed Cloudland Road and Barber Hill Road to local traffic only for the fall foliage season, ensuring the only way tourists will be able to get near the renowned Sleepy Hollow Farm is on foot; A 40-plus minute walk up the small dirt roads. But despite the long, uphill trek, some leaf peepers are still making the journey, especially those who’ve traveled from other continents to come see it.
“I’m from Brazil, I might never come back here again. So I just thought it worth it to walk 40 minutes to see everything,” said Ana Lima, a Brazilian whose longtime dream of seeing fall in New England came true this Monday.
Like so many other people over the years, Lima saw pictures of Sleepy Hollow Farm on social media and made it a bucket list item. But news of this years road closures didn’t make it into her social media feed before she made the trip.
“No, I had no idea,” Lima said. “So I asked like why it’s closed, and (police) said the people that live in the area were like complaining.”
And she’s not the only one who’s been caught off guard by the closures. The entrances to Cloudland Road are being commonly monitored by Windsor County Sheriff’s Deputies, and one deputy monitoring the road Monday afternoon said he’d already turned away eight or nine tourists in a matter of hours.
According to Windsor County Sheriff Ryan Palmer, things were pretty quiet the first few weeks the roads were closed, but now that foliage is peaking and the weather is briefly warming up, it could be a very busy week ahead. He just hopes the tourists who do make the long walk up to Sleepy Hollow Farm will be respectful, and remember why the closure is in place.
“It’s been fairly decent so far, people have been somewhat receptive. Obviously there’s been some disappointment,” Palmer said. “I can understand folks’ frustration with, ‘Hey, the road’s closed, it’s a public road,’ and everything else, but when you ask yourself, ‘How would I feel when I came home and somebody was on my porch,’ right?”
Many tourists like Lima are in agreement about being respectful, but she hopes the town can go back to normal next fall, and hopes property owners will be willing to share their view.
“It’s sad because, like, for sure it’s a privilege to live here, and people cannot see it anymore,” Lima said.
At the moment, Cloudland Road and Barber Hill Road will reopen Sunday, Oct. 15, less than two weeks from now. However, Pomfret Town Selectboard members say that date could very well get pushed back even further, since there will likely still be some beautiful foliage come that time. One member, who asked to remain anonymous, said the reopening date is very likely to be revisited at their selectboard meeting this Wednesday, Oct. 4.