Date of Activity: July 19, 2009
Condition of Trail(s): Dry, lightly used.
Trail Ambassador Name: Glenn Vernes
Trail Ambassador Email: glennvernes33athotmaildotcom
Location: Rockland Preserve
Trail(s) Ridden: Orange, yellow, red, blue, misc unmarked
How did you use the trail?: Mountain Bike
What was the time of day?: Late afternoon
Duration (Hours): 2.5
Distance (Miles): 15
Observations: The land that became Rockland Preserve was once owned by Ruby Vine, founder of Railroad Salvage Stores. At 649 acres, it was the largest parcel of privately owned, undeveloped land in New Haven County. The land was saved from development when the town of Madison bought it in 1997, with the stated intention of making it a nature preserve. The decision to buy, along with the 4.9 million dollar asking price, created a lot of contentious debate in town.
The preserve is a combination of dome shaped hills and low, swampy and seasonally boggy areas. The land drains into the Hammonasset River. The trails consist of newly built singletrack, old logging roads (the area was once logged to make charcoal), and colonial-era carriage roads.
There is also an interpretive trail that explains various features such as a pond, a large glacial erratic rock, and a replica of a charcoal pit. The Mattabasset blue blazed trail runs through the property.
While many of the older trails go straight through the wet areas, the newer trails do a good job of avoiding them and other problem areas like steep slopes. The new trails are well designed and appear to be not getting a lot of use, although I saw evidence of recent hiking, horse riding and mountain biking on my visit.
The trails are smooth and twisty but not very technically challenging, although there is a lot of climbing. Navigating can be difficult, since some of the older trails aren't blazed or on the map. The best trails for biking would be the orange up from rt. 79, the yellow, and the various red trails. I would rate the place as a fun local area if you live nearby.