Jones Mountain Preserve
284 acres in New Hartford, CT
Parking: Shoulder parking near 161 Steele Rd, New Hartford, CT
Trail Map Trails: 2.5 miles Rating: ★★★☆☆
Jones Mountain has a small parking area along Steele Rd for about 8 cars. The property features old carriage path trails, a vista overlook, and old farm ruins.
Starting from the parking area past the kiosk a rocky white blazed access trails leads up to the red loop. Taking a left will reach the ruins and overlook sooner, but I took the right heading uphill through open forest.
As the trail crests the hill it turns onto one of the properties old carriage roads built in the early 1900s providing a wide flat path crosses a well-built wooden footbridge over an unnamed stream. Ropes, signs, and warnings all prevent you from leaving the trail to the right as the adjacent property is a private hunting area belonging to the Kingdom Game Club.
The red trail then loops around the summit of Jones Mountain (elevation 985′) and on the backside there is a short trail to all the remains of the “foam dome” that used to be here. Today there is only the remains of the structure’s chimney.
The red trail next reaches the overlook, a 200ft clearing down the slope with views to downtown New Hartford and Rt. 44 as it curls along the Farmington River. If you search along the ledges there are names and dates carved into the rock dating as far back as the 1830s.
The overlook was most recently cleared in 2018 when the town removed at least 75 trees and a nicely tiled 10′ by 24′ terrace was installed with New York blue stone purchased from Torrington’s O&G Industries Inc. A bench dedicated to Joni Ellett Norton, “whose effervescence brought light to those around her.” was added to sit and enjoy the view.
Taking the red trail back towards the parking area heads downhill on the old carriage road along stone lined culverts and a handsome stone bridge that reminded me of Wadsworth Falls bridges. There is a brief detour off the carriage road to navigate around private property. The trail soon reaches the ruins of what must have been a barn and holding pond which feature some rusting farming equipment. From here is a short walk back to the parking.
I also missed a side trail somewhere in this section to memorial for the Jones family on a large boulder squared by stone walls.
The original 158 acres was preserved in 2006.
The property was formerly the Jones family homestead known as “The Woodlands”. The Jones were one of the first settlers of New Hartford around 1670 and owned the land for five generations.
The ‘foam dome’ was built by a Jones family member as an architecture project in the 1970s. It was often referred to as a Hobbit House and was slowly reclaimed by nature and disrupted by vandals. The town started talking about removing it in 2012, but apparently it was a fire that did it in sometime around 2015.
Jones Mountain was also the sight of a ‘notorious murder case‘ in 1978.
- Jones Mountain Environmental Review Report (2004)
- Peter Marteka – There’s Magic On New Hartford’s Jones Mountain (2010)
- Peter Marteka – A Place Where Trolls Could Roam (2011)
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Last updated November 9th, 2020
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