Quarry Head and Harrison Smith Preserves
Wilton, Fairfield County, CT
33 acres and 23 acres respectively
Saw Mill River Parkway north to Rt. 35 (at intersection with US 684). Take Route 35 into Connecticut to Route 33 south. Drive south for about 3.4 miles and turn left into a driveway marked with a small Park Land sign between the houses numbered 764 and 760 Route 33 south. Drive to past the small pond on the right and then up the hill to a parking area by the remains of a house.
Here are geological formations of coarse-grained gneiss that extend back to Devonian times (ca 400 million years ago). Granite was mined in Quarry Head Preserve. In the Harrison Smith Preserve there are numerous rock outcroppings and cliffs.
History of Quarry Head Preserve:
early 1700s - end of 19th century -- this is the site of Wilton's most notable quarry. The millstones that ground the rye and corn in the area grist mills of Norwalk, Wilton and Ridgefield were quarried here. The nearby Millstone Road got its name from the discovery of a cracked millstone that had been discarded by the side of the road.
1832 -- granite was cut here for house foundations in the Bald Hill area and for the steps of the 1832 Wilton Town Hall.
1852 -- oxen transportation replaced by railway transportation.
1880 -- the cutting of sills and lintels for the Singer Sewing Machine Company in Elizabeth, NJ. Other Quarry Head stones still in existence are in St. Mary's in Norwalk, the steps of the Ridgefield Congregational Church and the driveway posts at the Schlicting house on Ridgefield Road.
close of 19th century -- business fell off and the quarry ceased operations.
1920s-1988 -- the Degener family occupied the house during the summers
1988 -- the area acquired jointly by the State and the Town. State now owns it through the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program.
Drill holes and long flat planes of huge granite ledges can still be found in the area.
History of Harrison Smith Preserve:
There was some quarrying of rock in this preserve, but only for use in local buildings such as barn foundations and bridge footings.
The land also served as a farm.
1974 -- the preserve created when the Smith Family donated the land to the Wilton Land Conservation Trust.
mixed hardwood forest, pond, streams, meadows, well-drained slopes and dry crests
For a very short walk within Quarry Head Preserve, hike down to the pond you passed by the driveway. It heads north and then northeast to pass by on the western side of a meadow as it turns south. Turn right on the yellow trail and it will head southwest back to the parking area. To extend the walk, instead of turning right on the yellow trail as above, turn left onto the yellow trail and shortly turn left again as the yellow trails heads northeast past the eastern side of the meadow. Then you can shortly turn right onto the blue trail which heads east and then turns to head back southwest and west to the yellow trail and the parking area.
Heading south towards the Harrison Smith Preserve, you can take the yellow trail south of the pond by the driveway. It joins up with the red grail still heading south (southeast and southwest) and then the red trail leaves the yellow trail as you make a left turn (east). The red trail then bears left again to head north, then northeast, and finally northwest to make a left turn (southwest past the barn) and a final turn (northwest) back to the pond area by the driveway.
There are a lot of other trails than can be used in various combinations. A trail guide can be picked up at the parking area.
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney, February 28, 2002 (short stop)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Magnolia sp. (magnolia)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Thuja occidentalis (arbor-vitae)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhododendron sp. (Azalea) planted
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Vaccinium sp. (a low bush blueberry)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic )
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Ferns and Fern Allies:
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
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