Back in 1975, the town of Guilford acquired 600 acres of land. Instead of turning it into the latest neighborhood development, it became the Timberland Preserve. Today the preserve serves as a place people can go to enjoy outdoor recreation including hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Even licensed fisherman can enjoy trying to catch trout along the Iron Stream. This beautiful stream is part of the headwaters of the East River flowing down to Long Island Sound along the border of Madison and Guilford.
Timberland Preserve offers over 15 miles of well-marked trails. Look for marks mostly painted on trees. These marks vary in color depending on what trail you are on and also include circles and x marks. Be on the lookout for the blue blazed Menunkatuck Trail, part of the 215 mile long New England Trail (NET). The NET starts in Guilford right by Long Island Sound and makes its way up into New Hampshire.
There are six designated parking areas on the outskirts of the preserve, including a lot that also serves Cockaponset State Forest to the north. I started at the lot to the south of Upper Lake on Lakeside Drive. Here the preserve has a kiosk with a large map and other interesting information. There are also some smaller maps posted throughout the preserve at key intersections to help you along the way if you forgot to print one and bring it with you.
Many of the trails are beginner friendly, including the White Trail that takes you throughout much of the preserve. A real highlight for sure, even if you aren’t a fisherman, is the Iron Stream and Paradise Pool. Timberland Preserve is great to visit in any season for outdoor recreation.