Mono Pond State Park Reserve
218 acres in Columbia, CT
Parking: Medium sized lot near 120 Hunt Rd Columbia, CT
Trail Map Trails: 1.5 miles Rating: ★★☆☆☆
The red or yellow blazed trails at Mono Pond basically form a figure eight hike. Starting on the yellow trail is a one mile loop with shoreline access for fishing. The red trail is mainly an out and back that parallels the shore before a quick loop back. The trails weren’t great for wildlife viewing, but they were great for wildlife listening. The plop of turtles dropping back into the water after sunning themselves, deer crashing off into the underbrush, and the slap of a beaver’s tail. Despite hugging the shoreline, the growth along the water’s edge distorts potential viewpoints. Trails here were expanded in the last 10 years by an eagle scout from Columbia’s Troop 162. The eagle scout is likely the one who put in the Discovery Trail markers, though many of the markers and the guide to what they represent are missing.
There is a white blazed trail at the southern end of the pond that can only be accessed from the cul-de-sac at the end of Lake Ridge Dr (2 Bears Den Way for GPS). This area is known as Island Woods. The white trail is a half-mile loop that is an uneventful forested walk.
Mono Pond is a 113 acre shallow body of water. The main parking area doubles as a boat launch, canoes and kayaks are recommended since the average depth is only about 3.5 ft. The area around the boat launch is deep and clear. I’ve seen people fishing from the shore every time I’ve visited. Paddling south the water becomes filled with invasives and sediment though mostly passable for about 1/3 of a mile beyond that can be a struggle. This is because the pond was only established after the Hunt family damned the lower end in the early 1900s, previously it had been a deep peat bog.
For fishing bass is the popular reason to go, but most end up catching pickerel.
Mono Pond Island
An island sits in the middle of the pond and has at least three access points along the shore. The interior is young forest and I found a secret campsite in a thicket along the eastern shore. There is also a “cave” to the south amidst interesting rock formations. There are no trails on the island, but it is easily traversable even in full summer growth.
Established as a state park in 2008. The area was owned by the Hunt family (hence the name of the road) and they operated a sawmill nearby. The land changed hands several times until the Mono family bought the property and operated it as a private game reserve until it was foreclosed on by the Bank of Boston around 1994. The bank transferred the property over to the state and it has been open to the public ever since. In early 2020 funds were approved to purchase several adjacent parcels collectively known as Well’s Woods to expand the park.
Lisa Massicotte – Columbia approves joint land purchase (2020)
Peter Marteka – Mono Pond Offers Quiet Retreat (2003)
Janet Lopes – State Reserve Offers Hikers, Boaters Peaceful Setting (2015 archive link)