75 acres in Mansfield, CT
Parking: Small pull off near 172 Birch Rd Mansfield, CT
Shelter Falls is named for the three tiny waterfalls along Cedar Swamp Brook as it heads towards Nelson Brook. Next to the brook is a ‘sheltering’ rock overhang, a tiny replica of the Lion King pride rock. The trail guide lists 1.7 miles of trails from Birch Road out around the falls and north to Hunting Lodge Rd, the campus bike path, and UCONN Hillside Environmental Park (additional 2 miles of trail).
Southern Section – Heading south crosses from town land into University of Connecticut’s North Eagleville Tract ending at North Eagleville Rd. The trail map shows a fork to either stay along Cedar Swamp Brook or head uphill, but the trail along the brook no longer exists. However, the lower western trail to North Eagleville Rd has been re-cleared (but not blazed) and does not offer a connection to the cemetery. Compare the trail map to the recent hike GPS to see the differences.
Hiking each of these out and back adds up to a real distance of about 4 miles. The trails are in poor shape overall with overgrowth, erosion, and fallen trees but somehow still provide a great hike.
Northern Section – North of Birch Rd is an additional 48 acres leased to the Mansfield from the DEEP, which has a short loop trail that passes through hardwood forest and wetland views. This trail falls under the forgotten category, however. At last hike in July of 2018, the utility corridor was nicely mowed, but the blazed trail has fallen into disuse. Enough white blazes are left on the western side to follow uphill to an old foundation but expect to work to stay with the blazes. The trails on the eastern side are overgrown and/or very faint, so it wasn’t worth trying to complete this side of the loop.
Where Nelson Brook and Cedar Swamp Brook meet was the site of a mill.