Merrow Meadow Park
33 acres in Mansfield, CT
Parking: Small lot near 13 Merrow Rd, Storrs, CT
Trail Map Trails: Less than a mile Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Merrow Meadow is bordered on the west by the Willimantic River and the Central Vermont Railroad tracks to the east. It is a very popular park for locals and those looking for an easy stroll.
Merrow Meadow has just over a half mile of trails with one loop that is paved for accessibility. The paved loop runs around the ‘old field’ marked on the trail map with and provides access to a small platform with views of a red maple swamp. There are also short dirt paths along the water’s edge that are often muddy which loop back to the paved path.
There are numbered posts along the trails which correspond to points of interest detailed in the trail guide.
The property is also a link in the Willimantic River Hiking Trail a hiking trail that runs along the river from River Park in Mansfield to the Becker Conservation Area in Tolland. The Merrow Meadow section is particularly nice with with both views from high banks to secluded spots right at the waters edge. Crossing the bridge north of the park leads to the Riverview Trail. Heading south leads to the Spring Manor section which was largely blocked by stumps, large branches, and overgrowth on my last visit in 2018.
Near the entrance is a launching spot to the Willimantic River for boaters. It is possible to float downstream to River Park a distance of about 3 miles. Water level is important here, it’s classed as quick-water (which is appropriate for experienced river paddlers) but I’ve had a tough time north of River Park when the water is low.
I always see people fishing here under the riverside trees.
Preserved in 1990 when it was donated by the Merrow family. It opened to the public in 1998. From the Willimantic River site,
The meadow provided hay for the family farm, which extended along the south side of Merrow Road up to the former farm’s house and barn on Route 32. The north side of Merrow Road was developed as a mill village. The former Merrow mill was upstream on a bluff above the river. This mill began as a gunpowder mill in 1811. After several explosions, the Merrows turned to a safer product in 1832 – knitted underwear. Although the mill was destroyed by fire in 1887, and a subsequent sawmill was also destroyed, the village still remains. Look for the former boarding house by the railroad tracks, a former home and store (converted to a restaurant), and more mill houses as you drive back to Route 32.
Peter Marteka – In Cold Weather This Small Preserve In Mansfield Is Ideal (2009)
Peter Marteka – Great Summer Escape Route (2004)