11 acres in Mansfield, CT
Parking: Medium lot at 479 South Eagleville Road, Storrs, CT
The Eagleville Preserve is three sections on either side of Rt. 275. The northern section is the parking lot, Eagleville Dam, and recreation area. You can often see blue herons fishing on the dam.
The southern section across Rt. 275 starts off in state land. There are .98 miles of trail passing the site of the old Eagleville Mill. Heading right leads right to the Willimantic River and a small rocky area with a view of the dam falls from under the bridge. The trail map shows a several hundred foot DEEP trail along the river though at last hike the water had flooded this section.
Heading left from the entrance starts the Les Mehrhoff Invasive Plant Walk. The first section of trail passes through a thicket of invasive species that have been partially cleared. Nine signboards provide names, photos, and descriptions of common invasive species along the trail. The project was installed in 2013 by theConnecticut Invasive Plant Working Group with help from the Sierra Club. After passing through the thicket the trail enters Mansfield town land. This section has two small loops through native forest with long stretching along the river. At last hike, the narrow trail was precipitously close to the churning Willimantic River and several benches provided great views of the fast flowing water. At the southern edge of the property, the trail passes through a grey dogwood swamp before looping back along an active agricultural field.
In total, the loop is about 1.25 miles and takes 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. I tried hiking this property again in 2019, but a flooded area a couple hundred feet down the trail prevented any further access hopefully you’ll have better luck.
This spot is often a launch for a trip downstream that can go for several miles all the way to Willimantic. I have not kayaked this myself, but a few friends have made the trip.
From the town’s brochure,
“The preserve is on a level terrace of sand and gravel deposited by a melting glacier 15,000 years ago. It was a mill was built next to the dam and was originally powered by water. This area south of 275 was cleared to store raw materials. Cotton fabric was produced here from 1814 to 1931, and then shoe lasts were made until the mill was demolished in the 1950s.”
Peter Marteka – Eagleville Offers A Triple Recreational Treat (2009)