Old River Road
Kollar Wildlife Management Area
This Wildlife Management Area's 900-plus acres extend along two miles of riverfront in Tolland. The land is managed by Connecticut's Department of Energy & Environmental Protection as habitat for ruffed grouse and other wildlife that live in old fields, which feature a mix of grass and shrubs. Informal trails and wood roads pass through the preserve's extensive forest with fields scattered throughout. Note that hunting is allowed except on Sundays.
From Exit 69 on I-84 in Tolland, go west on Route 74 for a short distance, then turn right onto North River Road. Travel for one-and-a-half miles to a gate at the end. Turn left onto Babcock Road, then immediately left into a parking lot.
See Headwaters Map
From the parking lot, walk down Babcock Road to the gate. An abandoned section of North River Road extends beyond the gate and passes by old farms that are returning to forest. After half a mile, the old road approaches the river and the remains of Scripture bridge (probably named for a family that lived across the river in Willington). Although the Flood of 1938 washed out this bridge, the stone abutments are still intact in the riverbank. Where horses, wagons and cars once rattled by, there is now a peaceful spot by the river.
Walk down to the river's edge on the right, where you can see and hear Roaring Brook flow into the river on the opposite side. The Nipmucks and other tribes camped by this brook, which they called Owwaenunggannunck, "where people go to catch salmon." During annual spring gatherings, they caught salmon and shad that came up the river to spawn. (Dams now prevent these fish from migrating this far up the river.) The tribes also traveled upstream to visit the mineral springs in Stafford Springs.
From the bridge site, the wood road turns left to climb along the steep hillside, with views of the river flowing far below. An extensive system of wood roads offers many options for exploring this large preserve.
Thanks to Shirley Rau and the Tolland Historical Society for their assistance.
Photo: V. Wetherell
This Willimantic River Greenway Parks and Trails Guide was produced by the Willimantic River Alliance and WINCOG. Information in this guide reflects conditions and features as of Spring, 2008. Since conditions change over time, the Alliance is not responsible for changes at this site. This guide was funded with support from the The Last Green Valley (formerly known as the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc.).