Damned Conn-ection: Mine Hill Preserve in Roxbury offers abandoned mine shafts, forges, blast furnaces, and other mining-related structures aplenty. Ghosts of CT Industrial Past! Oh, and bats!
Noteworthy features/moments: This is a cool quasi-historical site featuring the remnants from old iron mines, with lots of forge-related structures still standing. The preserve features some caves and caged-off mine shafts that obviously now serve as access portals for Morlocks, or as the gates to Hell. Or not.
The Donkey Trail hike takes you past the tunnels and uphill to the bat cages, which are steel structures over deep shaft openings that are home to … well, bats! The little winged rats can get in and out, and are protected from idiots stumbling (or being pushed) into the underworld and wrecking their habitat.
While here, we happened upon a group of “prospectors” digging for quartz and other stones, who tried to recruit Kate into their rock-hunting cult by plying her with pyrite. They definitely were not burying a body. Nope.
Unlike some other hikes and abandoned-type places, there’s lots of good signage here explaining the history of the mining operations and the role of the various structures. You can get up close to everything and even go into some of the old furnaces.
At one point as we hiked near the marsh, there was a cacophony of ducks and frogs (quacking and croaking, respectively, although who knows for sure), making for a creepy vibe reminiscent of the infamous Great Frog Fight of Willimantic. No real explanation, and we maybe better left unexplored. Along those lines, for the ornithologically inclined, there seems to be an active owl population here, and the nature trail loop is an ideal length for a family trek.
Ultimately, this is a nice little jaunt—the preserve is well-preserved! The trails are well-marked, well-maintained, wide and clear, and it’s not particularly challenging or difficult, other than the one steep hill heading up to the bat cages. Definitely recommend!
Damned Verdict: You’d be batty not to go!