Utley Hill Preserve
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: 2.5 miles Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Utley Hill Preserve is a surprisingly complex little property in a join effort between the Town of Columbia and Joshua’s Trust. 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
Trails here are well traveled and easily followed from the Columbia Recreation area several trails head off into the woods. Though two main ones at either end of the parking area will bring you to 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 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 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 spur trail built as part of an Eagle Scout project which leads to a view of Utley Swamp.
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