Stunning. It’s a word I don’t use lightly.
But, how can you not after casting your eyes on Knowlton Hill? It’s a gorgeous plot of land – 127 acres in size that hugs the Mansfield-Ashford line. And with a beautiful blue sky above and a gentle breeze at my back I was more than willing to set off to find out more.
The preserve was once the summer home of mill owner C.C. Knowlton. Now, it’s a place for the public to appreciate the beauty and stillness around them. But, it’s the hill itself that’s the hero of this story.
It’s like a snapshot out of ‘Little House on the Prairie’. I came across a sweeping field topped with a huge maple tree – its leaves dancing in the wind. The spot is at the crest of a glacial drumlin – an elongated hill, rounded on top, and formed by glacial ice.
A piece of the yellow trail – the preserve’s longest marked path - leads to this blissful place. A couple of stone benches are nestled under the large tree providing a spot to rest and reflect. It also provides a panoramic view of the Mt. Hope River valley which I can imagine is quite beautiful during the autumn months.
My walk through the woods was just as peaceful. I’m amazed at how utterly quiet it was despite the twitter of a bird or two. I caught a glimpse of Knowlton Pond through the trees. But, a short, orange-blazed offshoot of the trail gives hikers a closer look.
Another distinction of this preserve is just how well-maintained the trail system here is. I could not find a bit of trash along the way. It’s a true testament of the work Joshua’s Trust has put into the space and of the visitors who respect it.
The preserve is also full of little surprises. From sweeping views of neighboring hayfields to the marshlands buried deep in the preserve, this is a spot you really need to see for yourself. And, you’ll quickly discover why places like this are so treasured in Connecticut’s ‘Quiet Corner’.
Directions: Take I-84 E toward Boston. Take Exit 68 for CT-195 toward Tolland/Mansfield. Turn right onto CT-195 S. Turn left onto US-44 E. Turn right onto Knowlton Hill Rd. Parking area is on the left.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: 1.5 miles