Connecticut is a great place to hike. Although we call them mountains, our highest points are regarded as hills by many states. Enough to offer a challenge to the eager hiker. In the past few years the towns have enthusiastically acquired land to be dedicated as open space and established walking trails and bike paths.
Nearby Tolland is one. They opened a trail through the Crystal Peat Bog. The 31 acre parcel of land was donated by the Crystal Peat Humus company in 2013. Before fossil fuels like coal and oil, peat was known as “cakes of fuel.”
I like to walk so finding a level trail was a pleasure. despite a slight hill near the parking lot the path is level.
I also like learning the history since I’m always doing research.
The Crystal Peat Bog was used during the Civil War to provide cheap fuel. The major source of heating and factory production was coal and the price sky-rocketed. Peat was available.
Connecticut peat was shipped to both Boston and New York, bringing money into the state. At the peak of production a dozen plants in places like Coventry, Rockville, Ellington and Meriden contributed peat bricks.
The peat was ground up and formed into blocks the size of bricks. The resulting bricks gave off about half the heat of coal. The production ended when the price of coal dropped after the end of the conflict.
The trail is marked by purple blazes and runs along an old road that used to take visitors to Ellington and Crystal Lake. (Do you remember that name? Hint: horror movies) A path marked with yellow blazes takes you through the heart of the preserve. It winds for about a mile through the oak and white pine forest. Since it doesn’t loop, you need to plan on walking about two or three miles past the remnants of the wall where they load the peat into wagons. There was no place I could point to and say I saw the bog. the land is overgrown with second and third growth trees. Like places in Europe, the peat bog is a field like every other.
Check outfor maps to the area.
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