Bush Hill Preserve
177.5 acres in Manchester, CT
Parking: Medium sized lot near 330 Bush Hill Road, Manchester, CT
Trail Map Trails: 6 miles Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Bush Hill Preserve has been growing since its humble beginnings as a donation in 1993. The property now spans three former farms and offers 4.2 miles of trail and another two miles of connecting farm roads with picturesque scenery, a Story Trail for kids, old ponds, and quiet forest.
I started my hike from the Cider Mill Barn at the main entrance. The barn is the former farm store/gift shop and I’m sure at some point cider mill, but today is filled to the brim with a huge variety of tag sale items available for sale to raise funds for the land trust. I ended up exploring the barn for at least an hour finding treasure after treasure. The tag sale is run by volunteers and open daily in May though I’m unsure of the hours the rest of the year.
Back to the hiking, following the road behind the barn leads you past a well maintained field with a picnic pavilion and the start of the Story Book walk. You could take a left at the corner here to jump on the blue blaze trail or continue down the road to reach the white. The road passes a good sized goat pen where a sign says you can feed the goats any fresh produce you have brought them but not clippings from anything nearby.
The white trail soon leaves the gravel roadway and climbs up the 318ft Bush Hill which has its own geodetic survey marker. The white trail then descends down the other side through thick forest and took the optional Lavender side trail to Gretz Pond. There is a nice bench here and I sat for a bit watching the turtles and frogs sunning themselves. I tried to follow the trail around the pond, but one side was too flooded to pass without getting wet shoes.
Working back to the white trail continues to the forest, reenters the main field and the continues mixing woodsy trail and gravel farm roads. Near the southern border of the property where the orange meets the white trail is a town line marker for Glastonbury/Manchester complete with big explainer signboard. I hopped on the blue trail which crosses and unnamed stream right at the edge of the Rolling Woods subdivision before working back through thick woods along the power lines back to the picnic pavilion.
Formerly the Botti Farm since 1912, the land trust has been preserving this area since 1993. Here’s a brief history of acquisitions:
- 1993 donation by the Manning-Ferris family, 13.5 acres
- 2015 purchase of the Botti family orchards and farm, 62 acres purchased for $915,000
- 2021 purchase of an entry-point on DeSousa Drive, 0.15 acre
- 2021 purchase of the former Lombardo farm, 102 acres
The barn roof was replaced in 2016.
- CTMQ – MLCT: Bush Hill Farm (2017)
- Peter Marteka – Preserving Manchester Farm Is A Work In Progress (2017)
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Last updated May 15th, 2023
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