Utley Hill Preserve and Columbia Recreation Park
275 acres in Columbia, CT (125 for Joshua’s Trust and 150 for the town)
Parking: Large lots near 57 Hennequin Rd Columbia, CT
Trail Map Trails: 3.3 miles Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Utley Hill Preserve is a surprisingly complex little property in a join effort between the Town of Columbia and Joshua’s Trust. It has the standard amenities of ball fields, playscape, gravel walking path, tennis and pickleball courts, and as of 2023 a disc golf course!
Highlights include ruins along Columbia Lake Brook, a swamp view, and access to the playgrounds and ball fields. The best way to access the park is from Columbia Recreation Area on Hennequin Road though there is rough shoulder parking along Lake Road.
- Yellow Trail – 1.25 miles
- Blue Trail – .5 miles
- White Trail – 1 mile
- Orange Trail – 0.6 miles
Trails here are well traveled and easily followed from the Columbia Recreation area main gravel loop though several areas can be very muddy. Most hikers start from the kiosk at the rear parking lot taking the gravel path and turning right onto the yellow loop Your goal should be to catch the mill ruins along the brook. The trail map above doesn’t note them, but this older one does.
If you’re on the yellow loop, unblazed side trails up a short hill will bring you to them and the white trail passes right by them. The first closest to Lake Rd is unique in that the wooden axle and turbine blade water system are still present though often underwater. The second is a large stone foundation with a stone lined sluice way.
At the back of the white trail is a short red spur trail built as part of an Eagle Scout project which leads to a view of Utley Swamp.
This nine hole disc golf course is great for beginners with four fairly open holes and five wooded holes and little to no danger of losing discs. Tee pads don’t exist yet so run ups can be pretty rough and one section between holes 5 and 6 is very muddy, but otherwise short and fun.
UDisc – Columbia Recreation Park
Columbia Recreation Park Disc Golf Handicap League – Meets Thursdays
Joshua’s Trust preserved their parcel in 1978 when it was donated by George and Patricia Becker. The town purchased surrounding property in 1987.
From Peter Marteka’s article,
According to local histories, there once was a piano and hat factory, a grist mill, shingle mill, cider mill and sorghum mill on the banks of the river.
Peter Marteka – Utley Hill Preserve Contains Pieces of History, Natural Beauty (2008)
CTMQ – JT: Utley Hill Preserve/Recreation Park (2019)
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Last updated January 21st, 2017
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