One ‘rocky hill’ is the centerpiece of an interesting hike that takes people through a piece of Connecticut’s colonial and natural history.
Quarry Park is part of that history – a place early settlers claimed as their own. And the town Rocky Hill is named for the very ridge this pocket of land sits upon.
The sweeping views of the surrounding area alone are worth the trip to the state-owned park. But, there’s so much more to this 84-acre parcel of land. This was where a trap rock quarry once existed from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century and the ghostly imprint of its work remains to this day.
The hike starts simply enough via two separate entrances along the trail system. I began my journey from the parking lot along Old Main St. across from Marshall Road. I followed the blue trail past the suburban homes on its outskirts and made my way into the forest.
Early on, hikers can venture onto the white trail and into a wildlife refuge to the left of the main path. The sloping land here once served as a ski hill back in the 50s. Now, a grove of trees – with a thin cover of snow (yes, snow) sits lightly over the ‘scape.
On the other side is what appears to be one of the many anomalies to be found in this natural setting - a rusted, metal mass - of what was once a 1936 Buick – now in its final resting place.
Trekking in a little further in, my upward climb brought me to Lookaway Ridge – a spot where those views of Glastonbury, Hartford, and even a touch of the Connecticut River can be thoroughly enjoyed.
Climbing off the ridge, I began to see more of the history hidden among the rocky crags. The quarry floor is layered like slices in a tiered cake. It culminates at the highest point – about 60 feet in the air - near the north end of the parcel.
But there are detours to be made. One, was to the yellow trail, where the vestiges of this thriving industry are in plain and vivid view.
Rounding a corner, I came upon the Old Compressor House, abandoned and in disrepair but brightly colored in graffiti that coat the building. Stone arches also appear as ruins – again, brilliant in appearance among the other rusted pieces scattered among the ground.
The trail flows through this neon landscape – a glaring contrast to the subtle colors of nature’s true show. But, it’s not the only curious wonder to see. Hopping back on the blue trail, I looped around and wandered to yet another hotspot of interest.
Finding myself at the bottom of the quarry, I looked up to find a man-made structure similar to that of a cave. Climbing the steep slope isn’t easy – but with the help of metal-roped cords and sticks found scattered about, I hobbled up to the top.
The spot is a bit precarious and sort of creepy, but interesting nevertheless. A knoll just mere feet away also serves as a great vantage point to check out the quarry’s rugged surroundings.
I carefully made my way back down to the trail – not the easiest trick in the world considering the leaf litter, and residual snow still on the path. But, I made it down and finished my hike with a sense of satisfaction - glad to have scaled the ‘rocky hill’ that’s influenced this area for so long.
Directions: Take I-91 N to Exit 24 for CT-99 S. Turn left onto CT-99 S. Turn left onto Marshall Road. The parking lot is opposite the road.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: 2 miles