Since childhood, my love of the outdoors has always been a part of me. And as an adult, I hope to share that passion with my own children.
So, I offered this challenge to my family, to join me in exploring the hidden treasures and more popular gems Connecticut and the surrounding region have to offer. From hiking to biking to kayaking, I hope my window into the outside world inspires you to explore as well.
Lombardi Ridge Preserve
Tucked away in a Bolton preserve, lies an idyllic place – a spot for the weary to rest and reflect. But first, you must make your way through a wonderful maze of wooded wetlands, ledges, and streams to get there.
And it all starts at the very beginning – off a quiet, gravel road. A kiosk sits at the trailhead beckoning the traveler to enter the Bolton Land Trust property.
Made up of three separate plots, the Lombardi Ridge Preserve covers about 90 acres of diverse landscape. I set out on the orange trail before recent storms covered it in snow. The loop is about a mile and a half long, and, with every step I took came a change of scenery - sometimes subtle, at times dramatic.
The subtleties include the level, wide path that weaves around groves of trees that still allow the sun from high above to pour through. The stream that also marks this property provides its own niche to this marshy land – quiet and unobtrusive.
The drama really comes a bit later as mounds of rock erupt from the ground creating a massive puzzle of ledges to be conquered. I found them great to scramble up on in order to get a better vantage point of the woods around me.
I also found myself exploring other ‘routes’ as well including a dirt road that cuts through the center of the preserve and a shorter loop trail in the southern portion of the preserve for those who want to add some time to their trek.
Regardless of your choices, it is wise to keep to the trails. The Andover Sportsmen’s Club is adjacent to the preserve and hunting and target shooting does take place there. I could hear the shots echo as I made my way closer to the boundary line – so be sure not to wander off.
I found the orange blazes I followed turning into arrows as I began to close the circuit on the main loop. More ledges greeted me on my trek back before opening up to a beautiful, natural amphitheater.
It appears others before me agree. A memorial stone dedicated to the preserve’s namesake -- Frank Lombardi – by his wife -- sits in honor here. And, a bench for the weary – donated by Bolton’s churches - greets all travelers as well.
People around here definitely tapped into something special about this place. And, it’s exactly what I needed to recharge before my own return to the ‘real world’.
Directions: Take I-84 E to exit 59 for I-384 E toward Providence. Continue on I-384 E to exit 5 for CT-85 toward Bolton/Colchester. Turn right onto CT-85 S. Turn right onto Hebron Rd. Turn left onto Old School House Rd/School Rd. Turn right at High Ridge Farm Lane to park on the street. Then, walk east on the gravel road until you see the kiosk on the right.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: 2.5 miles