About 15,000 years ago, water melting off the massive glaciers filled the Connecticut Valley and created Lake Hitchcock. Although the lake drained long ago, sand dunes formed along its shores and a few can still be found in parts of Connecticut. Some of the best-preserved dunes are located in Matianuck Natural Area Preserve, located just a half-mile from Hartford.
Most of the preserve is thick woodland and swamps, but an overgrown path leads to two areas of open, sandy dunes dominated by pitch pines and other plants normally found on beaches. Pieces of bleached clamshells and blackened driftwood are scattered over the sand.
Know Before You Go
The entrance to Matianuck Natural Area Preserve is located in a car park at the intersection of Columbia Road and Route 218 in Windsor, Connecticut. The trails to the dunes are often overgrown and the ground is swampy in places, prepare for rough terrain.