Nature's Path & Way To Go
5:22 PM EDT, July 19, 2012
I'm not sure if it was the large rounded rocks along the trail that made me think of a cobblestone road, but as I stood on the abutments of Scripture Bridge and watched the Willimantic River flow past, I kept turning around to see if a carriage or horse-drawn wagon was approaching.
Feel free to let your imagination soar too as you explore the 900-acre Kollar Wildlife Management Area in Tolland. Old woods roads take visitors along two miles of the Willimantic River, just downstream from the confluence of Middle River and Furnace Brook in Stafford Springs. The old roads snake across Buff Cap Hill with views of the river valley.
The main access to Kollar is at the gated end of North River Road. While walking along the former road, now being reclaimed by the New England forest, you feel as though you are in one of those movies where all the humans have disappeared and nature is taking over – in this case the abandoned asphalt road. The road leads past an old gravel pit which is also being absorbed by Mother Nature, with cedars and small white pines making the area look like a minature forest within the mature woods surrounding it.
The road ends at what was once known as Scripture Bridge, where two huge stone abutments face each other on opposite sides of the river. The waters flow clear, with large boulders and stones lining the bottom of the river. According to local historians, the bridge — named for a Willington family — once connected Tolland to Willington and was used by horses, wagons and cars before being washed away during the 1938 hurricane.
A two-mile trail along the river begins its journey here, with one option being a narrow and difficult fishing path running right along the Willimantic River for the more adventurous. For those who like a trail that meanders from river to overlook and back again, follow the woods road to the north of the bridge. The trail travels through hemlock groves and along the mountain laurel and fern-covered banks of the river until you reach a split-rock boulder.
You can't miss this boulder, and it's one of the strangest sights you will ever see along a river. The 7-foot rock with a huge split down its side absolutely towers over the other boulders as if a giant placed it there, just more evidence of the haphazard path of a retreating glacier. The trail ends at the boulder unless you are a fan of bushwhacking.
There are numerous paths and forest roads visitors can take, past abandoned farm fields and gravel pits. A walk along Babcock Road will take visitors through the heart of Kollar, where smaller trails jut off the roadway. If you have the time, Kollar has much to offer.
The Nipmuck Indians once called this area "Owwaenunggannunck" – or "here people go to catch salmon." You may call this area "place to stand high on the stones of ghost bridge" or " Place where giant boulder sits."
To get there, take Exit 69 off I-84 and travel west along Route 74. Take a right on North River Road and follow to its gated end. Bear left on Babcock Road. Parking is located on the left.
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