19 acres in East Haddam, CT
Parking: Shoulder parking near 14 Porges Rd, East Haddam, CT
Trail Map Trails: 1 mile Rating: ★★☆☆☆
The Duncan Preserve was an extremely pleasant surprise that I decided to tack on after exploring the nearby Brainerd Homestead State Park. The preserve is a short walk, historical elements, and a seasonal overlook.
From the shoulder parking on Porges Rd the trail heads right up a gentle slope to the summit of a treed hillock. There is a small stone plaque that looked freshly installed noting the spot as the site of the town’s first Episcopal Church. There is one large stone block that serves as a bench and a smattering of bricks.
The trail then heads off the hill down a steep grade, assisted by a few well placed stone steps, into a ravine bisected by a stream. The blue blazed trail forks here and both directions were flooded after recent heavy rains. Crossing the stream by hopping on rocks and then another steep climb up the other side. You’re within sight of private property much of the time, but after winding around small hills you are rewarded with a rocky ledge and a seasonal view of the Connecticut River. There is a pair of Adirondack chairs to admire the view which was actually pretty great on my December visit.
The trail then meanders a bit back to the ravine and after recrossing the stream I noticed an impressive squared stone ledge off trail. Undoubtably it is the quarry noted in the Trail Guide and the rock is impressively angular and smooth. There isn’t any evidence of bore holes, but a later inspection of the stone block bench I mentioned has a few. The trail doesn’t pass by the quarry is it requires some pushing through underbrush to get up close, worth it for me at least.
Preserved in 2010 when it was donated to the East Haddam Land Trust. From the Trail Guide,
“Its history goes back to about 1670 when the first East Haddam settlers moved into the area along Creek Row, the first road in town. The outline of the first Episcopal church ’s foundation, built by William Gelston about 20 years after the Revolutionary War, is still visible along the blue trail and there is evidence that the cut granite foundation stones were quarried nearby.
The property remained with the Gelston family until it was sold to William Duncan who had wed Rebecca Gelston. They planned to build on the site until the stock market crash of 1929 changed their dreams of a mansion. Instead, they refurbished the existing livestock barn into a summer cottage. After their daughter, Dorothy, passed away, the executors of her estate sold the property to the Connecticut River Gateway Commission who then donated it to the EHLT.”
- Peter Marteka – East Haddam’s Creek Row: A Road Back In Time (2011)
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Last updated December 27th, 2020
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