Knox Preserve, Stonington
Everyone knows I love Stonington. Heck, everyone loves Stonington. How could you not love Stonington?
Stonington is so cool that even the little one mile (in total) trail network squeezed in between the town’s oldest cemetery, Route 1, and the active AMTRAK train tracks is worth anyone’s effort.
Seriously. There’s open meadow, marsh, the beautiful Quiambog Cove, some cool rocks, some rare birds, a little beach area… welcome to Knox Preserve.
One of Stonington’s first settlers, Thomas Miner, farmed the land here in the 1600’s. Some of the property has been farmed continuously for 300 years for hay and corn crops and pasturage. Up until 2010 the land conservancy authorized local farmers to continue this tradition, which was a wish (but not a condition) of the donor.
And on top of all this, the Knox Preserve is an important migratory bird stopover site and hosts a remarkable variety of species given the size of the property. There are a half-dozen informational signs along the trails, installed by Trinity College, that describe the ecosystems visitors are passing from temperate grasslands to marshlands as well as the birds you will see. (Avalonia maintains an active colony of State listed Purple Martins as well as many birdhouses in the fields.)
Phew. That’s a lot of stuff for such a small preserve. A Preserve from which you can look out into the Block Island Sound to Fisher’s Island, which by rule I must mention is part of New York and should be part of Connecticut.
The trails here are super clean, flat, and wide. This is the kind of place you should take your significant other with a picnic basket full of cheese and crackers and wine and grapes. (Just ignore the rumbling trains every so often. And the ugly fence keeping you from the tracks.) It’s pretty, it’s easy, and it’s (most likely) devoid of other people.
I first walked down the path next to the meadow and couldn’t stop taking pictures. Once to the southern end, I curled around into the woods and the tunnel of trees hiding the tracks. Before i knew it, I was walking near the cove and then past a little beach area – where you should end up for your cute little picnic.
My whole walk was about 20 minutes long, but it felt longer – in a good way. Richer… fuller. In addition to the outer loop, there’s an “inner-loop” as well and a couple cut-off trails I poked around them all, and suggest you do the same. There’s a lot to experience here, and once again I thank Avalonia Land Conservancy for doing such a great job.