Knowlton Hill Preserve

 The access to this property is in Mansfield, but only just south of the Ashford town line. A large portion of the main trail is in Ashford, so we are claiming it as Ashford Outdoors.

Walkability: Easy, with some hills and some rocks in the path.

Total distance: Yellow loop: 2.2 miles, including the extended walk to Wormwood Hill Road (see description below); 1.4 miles without it.

Orange Trail: 0.2 miles; begins and ends on Yellow Loop

Red Trail: 0.6 miles; begins and ends on Yellow Loop

Elevation change: 251 feet (up + down), includes both Yellow Loop and Red Trail; mostly gentle gradual slopes.

Trail descriptions:  Use map at bottom of page to get oriented.

Yellow Loop – This loop begins at the parking area on the east side of Knowlton Hill Road, about 0.1 miles south of the Ashford town line, just past the U-shaped driveway shown on maps. There is a Joshua's Trust sign at the parking lot, and a kiosk about 50 feet up the trail. The kiosk has a laminated trail guide which provides information about  15 sites along the trail. Return the guide when you go back to your car. The guide (PDF) is also available on the JT website, link near the bottom of the page ( The early part of the trail is a mown grass path that ascends a hill--Knowlton Hill--through a meadow. As you near the top of this hill (gentle slope), a vista appears at the right. Below, across the wide meadow,  is the beginning of the woods, and over the trees, more distant hills are visible. It's a nice change from walking in the woods. Just past the peak of this hill is a very large silver maple tree with two stone benches where you can sit to enjoy the view. The trail continues more or less straight ahead and down hill to the woods where it goes into the trees (0.2 miles) and becomes a well used woodland path marked with yellow blazes. [Note on the JT map below that there is an alternate mowed path (dotted orange) that turns right near the top of the hill, descends to the trees and follows the edge of the woods for a short time before reaching the main path where it enters the woods.] After a short walk the trail begins to descend to Knowlton Pond (privately owned). At mile point 0.25, there is a choice to turn right and take an extension of the trail to its end at Wormwood Hill Road, about 0.8 miles round trip. This part of the trail goes through a wetland across some boardwalks. (There is a small parking space at the end, and this is an alternate starting point, just south of 784 Wormwood Hill Road.) There is a small U trail (Orange) that extends eastward from the extension trail (see description and map below). It goes closer to the water. Returning to the loop trail, note the enormous white oak tree at the junction of the loop and the extension. It would take at least a family of four to hold hands around the gigantic trunk of this tree. This oak is a wolf tree--a much older and larger tree than it's neighbors. It was probably left when a field was cleared so there would be a place where cattle or farmers could rest in the shade. The tree is hundreds of years old. There is another stone bench here if you want to rest under the oak's branches. The trail continues generally northward, following the shore of Knowlton Pond, but 50-100 yards away from it, so you get glimpses through the trees. Eventually the trail passes through another meadow where there is a working farm on the right, and reaches Knowlton Hill Road. Turn left and walk down Knowlton Hill Road until you pass the red mailbox of the house on the left, then turn right. cross the road and go into the woods to complete the loop. In this section you will arrive at the Red U Trail on the right (see description and map below). Keeping to the Yellow Loop, continue about 0.2 miles to the parking lot. Where the trail ends at Knowlton Hill Road, there is another large white oak (see photo below), but it's not as big as the wolf tree.

Orange – This 0.2 mile trail, with a short steep portion, enters the woods off the yellow loop and affords a closer view of privately owned Knowlton Pond. This trail rejoins the yellow loop as it turns north. [Not investigated by Ashford CT Outdoors walkers.]

Red – This 0.6 mile trail leaves the Yellow Loop near a small stream and follows this stream through the woods passing through an impressive stand of beech trees. It goes near a privately owned marsh where one might see pileated woodpeckers, then turns east and north through an old rock wall and joins the yellow loop again. Taking this trail eliminates approximately 0.1 miles from the Yellow Loop.

Environment: Lovely walk through fields/meadows, forest, and wetlands, with views of bodies of water. 

Directions:  Take Knowlton Hill Road south from Squaw Hollow Road (U.S. 44). About 0.1 miles after entering Mansfield, there is a large old shingled house on the left. The parking lot is just past this house. 

Knowlton Hill Preserve page at Joshua's Trust website.

October 2023

Map from Joshua's Trust website: 

Photos: 1-Fields on adjoining farm; 2-Old rock wall in the woods; 3-The white oak at the end of the Yellow Loop--these two people could not join hands around it; 4-Big Sky at Knowlton Hill Preserve.