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Saunders Preserve​

The 69-acre Saunders Preserve, nestled between Honey Hill and Hedlund Roads in the southern section of East Haddam, is a “geologic gem.” It was so named by two distinguished geologists, Dr. Phillip G. Resor, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University, and Ralph S. Lewis, Connecticut State Geologist (Retired). 

The Preserve lies atop both the Pattaconk Brook Fault and the
Honey Hill Fault, revealing geology in the 
northern half of the preserve that is fundamentally different from that in the southern half.


Fault rocks on the property also include pseudotachylyte, a relatively rare rock created with the friction, heating, and local melting associated with slip during ancient earthquakes.

More information on the geology of the preserve is on the kiosk at the preserve or by downloading the kiosk information.

The Preserve has at least two vernal pools and two cold-water streams, one feeding the Roaring Brook watershed and an intermittent stream that feeds the Eightmile River watershed. These watersheds are identified as a high priority for protection in the East Haddam Plan of Conservation and Development and the Lower Connecticut River Valley Plan of Conservation and Development because protecting the water clarity of these watersheds helps protect the water of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. 

The trails wind through mature forest (including oaks, beech, birch, maple, hickory, tulip, and sassafras), shrubby understory (blueberry, winterberry, mountain laurel, spicebush, maple leaf viburnum), and forested wetlands. The vernal pools and forested wetlands on the property allow amphibians and other wooded wetland species a safe, undisturbed place to live.


A sliver of the Preserve is in the Audubon Connecticut’s Lyme Forest Block Important Bird Area (IBA), 60,000 mostly forested acres in East Haddam, Salem, Colchester, Lyme, Old Lyme, and East Lyme that is critical habitat for overwintering and migrating birds. However, all of the property is important bird habitat, whether in the IBA or not ... birds don't observe human-made boundaries.

The Saunders Preserve was acquired by East Haddam Land Trust in 2023 from the family of John and Diana Saunders, longtime East Haddam residents who wished to see the land preserved in perpetuity. Acquisition of the Preserve was possible through grants from the State of Connecticut's Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant, the Connecticut Land Conservation Transaction Assistance Grant program, the Eightmile River Coordinating Committee, and the generous donations of our members and supporters.



Download our Saunders Preserve trail map with trails, driving directions, and more.


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