Dorwart Preserve and Lion’s Memorial Park
125 acres in Mansfield, CT
Parking: Small pull-off near 215 Mulberry Rd Mansfield, CT
After a whole day of downpouring rain, I snuck in a hike at the Dorwart Preserve. I had somehow missed this 1.25 mile loop on the backside of Dorwart Preserve despite hiking all the properties around it. I combined it with Lion’s Memorial Park since the two are contiguous and Lion’s has only about .25 mile of trail as it heads towards the blue-blaze Nipmuck Trail.
The trail at the Dorwart Preserve starts off alongside an unnamed stream that flows from Hansen’s Pond towards the Fenton River. After 1.5 inches of rain, the stream was a fast flowing river and had flooded most of the riparian zone next to the trail. At about .25 miles the trail bends uphill and through a hemlock grove. The trail map notes a ‘river of rocks’ that is the result of glacial till. In the early spring, the only colors were the deep reds of old fallen leaves and the bright green moss. I noted the glacial till except I called it ‘sea of stones’. At .3 of a mile the trail splits heading left uphill and right downhill. The left section of the loop follows a row of hills. Seasonally, you may be able to see the Coney Rock ridge through the trees. The backside of the loop reaches an old cart path and a connector to Lion’s Memorial Park. The downhill section of the loop is the remains of a ‘local shortcut’ that “provided access to adjacent pastures and wood lots.” There is an old cellar hole and the rusted remains of an early American car. There is also a small section of burned trees, try to spot the one that was hit by lightning.
At the backside of the Dorwart Loop is a connector trail to Lion’s Memorial Park. This trail crosses a wooden bridge over a seasonal stream that has tiny cascades after heavy rains. It connects to the backside of the soccer fields and also provides an access trail to the upper bridge section of the Nipmuck Trail. This also provides easy access to Mansfield Hollow.
A great long hike (roughly 5 miles) would be to hike from the Dorwart Preserve to the Nipmuck Trail. Head north following the Fenton River to reach Fifty Foot Cliff Preserve and its overlook. Continue north past the Nipmuck trail junction until you reach the Chaffeeville Silk Mill ruins. Cross over Chaffeeville Rd and head uphill into the Coney Rock Preserve taking in the view from the ridge. Further into the preserve, you will pass through Proposal Rock before taking the forest road back to Mulberry Rd and your entrance at Dowart. This would be a challenging hike with overlooks, peaceful stretches along the river, and touches local history. (I hiked this idea in June 2018 and can confirm its a great hike, to see the movie I made check the movie tab)
I also run this by combining the above loop with the yellow trail at Mansfield Hollow for a 10 mile loop.
Dorwart Preserve was purchased by the town in 2010 with a grant from the DEEP Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program. Lion’s Memorial Park was purchased by the town in 2009.
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