Roxbury is a rural town in the northwest corner of Connecticut, set along the Shepaug River. An agricultural town when it was first settled, it became a mineral mining center, providing iron for steel-making at Mine Hill, as well as silver mining and granite quarrying. The town no longer relies on mining, but there are many acres of farmland surrounding the area’s parks and reserves, including the dog-friendly Mine Hill Preserve.
The Mine Hill Preserve features 360 acres of fields and trails perfect for a trek with your leashed fur-pup. The 4 miles of trails include the easy .3-mile Reservoir Trail and the 3.5-mile Main Loop that climbs up the Donkey Trail past abandoned mine shafts to the remnants of blasting ovens. The Reservoir Trail has the added feature of crossing a footbridge over the pond where it begins. You’ll find picnic tables for a casual bite, and plenty of parking. Many species of birds live here or pass through on their way to their summer and winter homes, so be sure to bring your binoculars and camera! This is a pawsome place anytime of the year!
Whether Roxbury is where you live, or you and your fur-baby are visiting, be sure to visit some of the woofderful parks and preserves the town has to offer. You’ll be glad you did! Arf!
The eastern sector of Roxbury is home to the dog-friendly Lilly Preserve, a 140-acre tract containing 2.5 miles of trails, both moderately difficult. The Red Loop crosses the upper woodland of the preserve, and the Blue Loop’s 1.5-mile length stays to the wetlands near Jack’s Brook. Immediately upon entering the trailhead, you’ll notice that this is a peaceful place to walk with your pooch while watching birds, and photographing the many natural and picturesque sights. Walk over a footbridge spanning a falling brook, check out the Highland steer grazing in fields along the trail, or perhaps take a short side trip to a memorial stone commemorating the land’s donor, Thomas R Lilly. Neither long nor especially difficult, the trails in Lilly Preserve will transport you and Fido to another, less busy and more tranquil world.
This neighborhood of Roxbury sits at the very top edge of the Mine Hill Preserve at Judd’s Bridge Rd. It contains the Battle Swamp Brook and Raven Rock Preserves, partially on land donated by Ethan Allen in 1987. The 45-acre preserve features a 1.4-mile out-and-back trail from Judd’s Bridge Rd to Battle Swamp Road along Battle Swamp Brook. At the end of the trail is Raven Rock Preserve, with Judd’s Bridge Rd alongside it. A cluster of stone seats constructed to look much like a living room can be found where the road crosses the brook, a fine place to rest for both you and your pup while you watch the brook gurgle by under a stone bridge. Very accessible and pleasing, this pair of Preserves is a don’t miss visit!
If you like good food and having your fur-baby with you for a meal, West Roxbury just to the south of Mine Hill has just what you’re looking for, whether it is casual burgers or French/American “Vintage” cuisine. Ironically, the two restaurants that can fulfill all these requirements are side by side in West Roxbury. Kailey’s Burger Station LLC features a casual family environment while serving up local grass-fed burgers, chicken, fries, ice cream and more! Lots there to love and share with your furry bestie at one of their outdoor tables. Next door, Mamie’s offers rural French and old fashioned American food, on a menu that changes weekly to keep things interesting. Mamie is in the kitchen in person, where she also creates baked goods that will make your (and Fido’s) mouth water. Stop by and have a wonderful meat or seafood meal! Bone appetit!
Near the Southern border of Roxbury is Roxbury Falls at Sherman Park. A series of cascading, tumbling mini-falls make up this natural wonder, which is part of the Roxbury Land Trust’s River’s Edge Preserve. The Preserve features the falls on the Shepaug River, along with a boat launch onto the river, an ever-changing vernal pool on the south side, and fishing opportunities for you and your furry bestie. There is a fishing bench at the point at which the river becomes Lake Lillinoah, which is also its mouth. Sherman Park features picnic tables for a casual meal with your pup before you take a stroll along the Blue Trail to the place where Roxbury Falls’ tumbling water empties into the lake. The Blue Trail requires moderate hiking and climbing skills with some steep climbs, but is a varied and enjoyable 1-mile loop that is worth the effort. Pawrrific!
This neighborhood in next-door New Milford is home to the New Milford (Candlewoof) Dog Park, a community park with separate sections for large and small dogs, and complimentary waste bags stationed throughout. The grassy surface is easy on Fido’s paws, and he will love the ample opportunity to socialize and exercise to his heart’s content while you look on with fur-pup parental pride. No water is provided, so be sure to bring some, and stake out a spot under one of the large shade trees. The park is maintained by New Milford Dog Park volunteers and they ask for a small one-time donation for maintenance and improvements. Woofderful!