81 acres in Ashford, CT
Parking: Shoulder parking near 69 Westford Rd Ashford, CT
The Rankin Preserve is a large property with an old forest road that leads to linked man-made ponds.
Joshua’s Trust built a trail here in early 2018 that extends the old path to a 1.3 mile loop. Either direction at the fork climbs up a steep bank. Heading east follows stone walls to exposed bedrock ledges, but you only get within a stones throw. I’m not sure why, but I wanted the trail to pass right alongside them. The half of the loop gains two hundred feet of elevation steadily. Not so steep to be taxing, but you will certainly be able to tell.
Heading west passes different stonewalls and a dilapidated tree stand just barely hanging on the tree. As I stopped to look a red tailed hawk called out not far away and I watched as he glided off towards Rt 89. This half of the loop was a bit harder to follow as the trail doesn’t seem as established, but ample yellow blazes make following it no trouble.
From the Joshua’s Trust site, “The east side of the preserve is covered by a series of wetland areas including a red maple swamp, and shrub swamp, a march, a stream, and a series of linked ponds… To the west of the wetlands, the land rises steeply to exposed bedrock ledges, and continues on a more gentle slope through an oak-hickory forest with mature trees and a largely closed canopy.”
Historically a gravel mining site in Ashford. From the site, “The stone walls that dot the forest provide clues to the land’s past life as a pasture, most likely used in colonial times and until World War II.”
Links:CTMQ – JT: Rankin Preserve (2017)