Mansfield Hollow State Park
251 acres in Mansfield, CT
Parking: A number of lots and pull offs along Bassett’s Bridge Rd Mansfield Center, CT
Trail Map Trails: 20 miles Rating: ★★★★☆
Mansfield Hollow is a large and varied park that offers hiking, picnicking, and boating. It is also a popular gathering place for groups on the weekends and large events like the annual cyclocross race. There are over 16 miles of trails between the park and wildlife areas. This includes a nearly 8 mile section of the blue blazed Nipmuck Trail to its eastern terminus. Highlights of the trails include sections along Mansfield Hollow Lake, the Mount Hope and Fenton Rivers, and pine groves throughout.
Mansfield Hollow Lake/Reservoir
Mansfield Hollow also contains a 500-acre lake created by the Army Corps of Engineers that is great for boating and fishing. A large parking lot and boat launch are located along a bend of Bassett’s Bridge Rd.
Yellow Blazed Multi-Use Loop
Mountain biking and horseback riding are allowed on this trail that loops around the lake. It is my favorite trail in the park for trail running and is 5.2 miles total.
East of the Lake
This section of trails can be accessed from the small pull off just north of the boat launch or from the Nipmuck Trail East Terminus. The Nipmuck section here is a 2 mile hilly stretch with an overlook on the water. Mountain bike trails run along the waters edge and are some of the most secluded trails in the park. There is also an easy paved path (a road that ran through the hollow before it was turned into a lake) runs right to the water’s edge.
Blue Blaze Nipmuck Trail
Previous Section – Nipmuck Trail: East Terminus
Though the eastern terminus starts in the Mansfield Hollow WMA this description covers the 1.7 mile section from Bassett’s Bridge Road to Rt. 89.
From the Mansfield Hollow boat launch the Nipmuck continues into the woods at the corner of the lot. The Nipmuck heads up into the pines before passing the main picnic area, briefly along the raised dam path, and back into the trees. Though Mansfield Hollow is a popular spot the Nipmuck is one of the quieter trails through the park. It is hilly but only gradually so and is usually dry and easy to follow. It can be combined with a number of other crossing trails for longer hikes.
Next Section – Nipmuck: Iron Bridges
Established as a state park in 1952 upon completion of the Mansfield Hollow Dam. The dam was built in response to disastrous floods resulting from the 1938 hurricane. Plans were drawn up in 1940 for three dams: one at Mansfield Hollow on the Natchaug River, one at South Coventry on the Willimantic River and one at Andover on the Hop River.
While the Coventry and Andover plans were ultimately dropped the Mansfield project continued though it was modified after heavy protests from town residents. The U.S. Government acquired 2,300 acres and began construction of the dam in 1949.
- Friends of Mansfield Hollow Facebook Page
- The Geology of Mansfield Hollow State Park
- Peter Marteka – Kayak Allows New Looks at Hollow (2001)
- Peter Marteka – The Ghost Bridges Of Mansfield Hollow (2012)
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Last Updated August 12, 2019
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