Located in North Madison, west of Route 79 and just south of the Madison/Durham border, Rockland Preserve is an area of rounded, rocky hills, steep gray cliffs, ledges, and lovely wooded areas.
Long abandoned ancient roads offer easy access for the walker and hiker. Crooked Hill Road, Poole Road and Dead Hill Road tell stories of travel by foot and horse and wagon of the residents of long ago.
There is abundant evidence that the early settlers in Rockland harvested the land for wood and charcoal. The evidence exists in the many circular "charcoal pits" with their black soil littered with bits of charcoal. Nearby these flat, circular areas are stone fireplaces, marking the crude huts where the colliers kept watch as the charcoal smoldered in its conical mound. Roland Stevens, a life-long resident of Rockland, wrote of gathering bushels of huckleberries from the woods of Rockland. He also noted that the local farmers often joked they had to grind the sheep's noses before turning them loose to graze in the rocky pastures.
The centerpiece of Rockland is Coan Pond. Part pond and
part fen, the area is a mixture of bog with black, damp soil and rare
flowers as well as pond with frogs, turtles and beaver. Coan Pond offers
a scenic views to all who visit its shores.
The quiet beauty of Rockland is now available to everyone. Crooked Hill Road and Dead Hill Road invite us to walk among the oaks, past huge glacial boulders and laurel thickets. The small pond at the edge of Coan Pond harbors water lilies, frogs and turtles. Lady slippers, asters, blackberries and cranberries await the interested hiker. Spring and summer wildflowers, the yellow, orange and red of fall foliage, and the snow covered landscape of winter beckon the visitor. Each season brings new enchantment; new life to Rockland Preserve.