No matter how long you have lived in Connecticut, you will never have experienced all of its little hidden treasures. Secret spots that aren’t well-known litter the state. Some of the most spectacular of these spots are the state’s abandoned mines, which offer a glimpse into the history of our state and a unique look at how nature reclaims what was once hers.
Old Mine Park—Trumbull
Mined from 1828 to 1920 and from 1942 to 1946, this land has been incorporated into a municipal park and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Old Mine Park used to be a tungsten mine. The pavilion for picnicking now stands where the main ore processing building once stood. Old Mine Park is a 72-acre area created in 1937 on the site of the mine.
The park’s features include An 11-mile trail in the formation of a loop (perfect for biking and hiking), two pavilions, a picnic area, Pheobe Meadows multi-purpose field, The Trumbull Counseling Center, and a walking bridge over the Pequonnock River.
The loop up the large hill takes you past remnants of old mine cuts and shafts which are fenced off for safety purposes. The trail is appropriate for all skill levels of hikers and bikers.
The park is best accessed from January until November, and dogs are permitted. Although the trails along this old mine are mostly used for hiking and biking, feel free to take a trip out here for some fishing, and (although it is not necessarily allowed due to safety reasons) you may find some visitors swimming in certain spots of the river.
Be aware that unless you are a Trumbull resident with a parking pass, however, you cannot park in the main lot and will need to park in smaller lots a little bit further away, or along the roadside.
You can find a trail map for Old Mine Park here.
Mine Hill Preserve—Roxbury
Mine Hill, located in Roxbury near the Shepaug River, is a national historic landmark that was once a fully-functioning iron mine.
The park’s trails wind through a 19th century mining area, passing over 2 miles of an abandoned mine shaft and massive blasting furnaces. It is just a short walk up to the old giant furnaces.
If you are willing to take on the whole trail, the trek is 4-mile round trip on the blue trail, which loops around the preserve. The blue trail is also known as the Donkey Trail and is popular for its route because it passes by two mine tunnels and a series of old air shafts. The trail takes you through dense woodlands, up rocky terrain, over a small marble bridge, past covered ventilation mine tunnels (with cave like structures that are now home to bats), along a long dirt utility road, and back to the old furnaces and historical part of Mine Hill.
If you are going strictly for the scenic route, there is a short nature trail, if you go left at the beginning of the blue trail, that isn’t too far from the main entrance area. Be sure to be cautious and aware on your adventure though, as there are some possibly dangerous spots due to all the mining activity that took place years ago. Don’t worry too much, though, because they have done a great job blocking off these areas with gates.
You can find a trail map of Mine Hill Preserve here.