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Connecticut Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

Connecticut Rockhounding Location Guide & Map

For being a small state, Connecticut packs a lot of great rockhounding opportunities within its borders. Connecticut has a long history of gem production, and the many old mines and quarries which dot its landscape are a testament to that tradition. Connecticut is most well known for its garnets which are primarily sourced from the Triassic age schists exposed by the Connecticut River. While the overall variety of rocks, gems, and minerals is sub-par, the state does still offer quite a few great rockhounding locations.

The best places to rockhound in Connecticut are old mines and quarries, some of which can be hard to gain access to. Outcrops of schist and basalt in the Connecticut River Valley expose pegmatites, garnets, and other minerals. Ocean beaches and stream gravels also make for great rockhounding sites.

State Symbols
State MineralAlmadine Garnet
State Rock
State Gemstone
State FossilEubrontes Giganteus
Connecticut: Source

Almandine Garnet

This article will dive deeper into the many great rockhounding sites across the state (along with maps), but I’d like to highlight a few standouts here. The top 10 rockhounding sites for gems and minerals in Connecticut:

  • Bantam Lake – The area around Bantam Lake is a great place to find quartz. Check out the south and southwest side for your best chances.
  • Hammonasset Beach, Madison – Small grains of garnet can be found in the sand, especially near Webster Point on the western end of the beach. They are so prevalent they give the sand a pinkish color.
  • Torrington – The basalt sills exposed all around Torrington are known to contain agates and prehnite. Search at the base of these exposures for material that has recently weathered out.
  • Salmon River State Forest, Colchester – The best place to find garnets is near the SE corner of the Comstock Covered Bridge. You can also check the gravels all along the banks of the Salmon River.
  • Farmington – You can try searching in almost any area surrounding Farmington for agates and prehnite. I would especially recommend searching in the gravels of stream beds.
  • Tolland– Most of the road cuts and outcrops in this area expose garnet-bearing schists. Try looking in the talus and debris at their base for garnets, quartz crystals, and staurolites that have weathered out of the exposure.
  • Quartzite Hill, Stafford – This is a relatively unique area because the garnets found here are in a quartzite matrix as opposed to schist.
  • Long Hill/Turkey Hill Prospects (fee) – For a small fee, you can gain access to prospects in this area for a chance to find beryl, smoky quartz, tourmaline, topaz, and albite.
  • Plum Bank Beach, in gravels – The gravels along Plum Bank Beach will usually turn up some agates and moonstone.
  • Long Hill Mine in Old Mine Park – This old mine is a well-known historical collecting site that has produced specimens of calcite, fluorite, pyrite, scheelite, and blue topaz.

Connecticut doesn’t have the largest array of rocks and minerals, but there are still quite a few worthwhile varieties that can be found across the state. The most notable mineral collected in Connecticut is probably almandine (an attractive species of garnet) which can be found in schists and gravels across a large area. The basalts exposed by the Connecticut River are also well known for prehnite.

The most commonly found and collected minerals in Connecticut are:

  • Garnet
  • Prehnite
  • Staurolite
  • Quartz
  • Sphalerite
  • Amethyst
  • Soapstone
  • Albite
  • Aquamarine
  • Tourmaline
Staurolite
Staurolite

Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Connecticut which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, old mining prospects, washes, streams, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, I’d highly recommend these books you can find on Amazon:

Please remember that rock collecting locations are constantly changing. Specimens may become depleted from other collectors, the location may have been built on or altered, locality information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed hands. Joining up with a local rockhounding club for a group trip can often get you access to otherwise off-limits locations like privately owned mines and quarries. There are many rockhounding clubs in Connecticut but I’d specifically recommend the Meriden Mineral Club. Though there are many locations listed here, this list is far from exhaustive. A location’s listing here is not a guarantee of accuracy. Be safe, never go underground, and make sure to get permission from the landowner to search for and collect specimens.

If you’re planning on heading to the field, make sure you have all the gear you’ll need! To get started, you can check out my recommended gear page which contains my full reviews for every Geologist’s favorite rock hammer and the best hiking backpack I’ve ever owned.

Rockhounding Sites in Connecticut

NOTE: All the locations listed in these tables are clickable, and will take you to the location on Google Maps.

Litchfield County

Litchfield County contains many great rockhounding sites including old mines, quarries, and outcrops. You can hope to find specimens of agate, prehnite, quartz, pyrite, staurolite, garnet, and many other minerals. For an easy and fun day of rockhounding I’d recommend checking out the south side of Bantam Lake for rose quartz or any basalt exposures you can find around Torrington for agate and prehnite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Barkhamsted, area outcropsActinolite, Asbestos, Soapstone
Cornwall, W side pegmatite outcropsGraphite
Litchfield, area exposures of mica schistCorundum, Pyrite, Staurolite, Talc
Bantam Lake, S sideQuartz (rose quartz)
Roebling Mine, New MilfordAquamarine, Beryl, Biotite, Feldspar, Garnet, Quartz (smokey), Muscovite, Tourmaline
Old Iron Mine at Mine HillChalcopyrite, Galena, Pyrite, Quartz crystals, Siderite, Sphalerite
Torrington, area basalt sillsAgate, Prehnite

Hartford County

The many area mines and quarries in Hartford County are known to have produced a wide variety of rocks and minerals, but gaining permission to collect may be a struggle. I would recommend checking out the many gravels and stream beds in the Farmington area for nice agates and prehnite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Bristol Copper MineBornite, Chalcocite crystals, Calcite, Chalcopyrite, Chrysocolla, Malachite
Canton, quartz vein exposure in local streamAmethyst
East Gransby QuarryDatolite (gem-quality). Aragonite, Calcite, Celestine, Epidote, Fluorite, Galena, Prehnite, Quartz, etc.
Farmington, area gravels and surfacesAgate, Prehnite
Glastonbury, area quarriesColumbite, Feldspar
Old Simpson Quarry, GlastonburyAquamarine, Quartz (smoky)
Quarries near Hale’s BrookBeryl, pegmatite minerals
Simsbury MineChalcocite, Cuprite, Malachite, Copper, etc.
Meriden, area quarriesQuartz, Amethyst, Calcite, Gypsum

Tolland County

Road cuts and other outcrops in Tolland County make for great rockhounding locations because the schists the expose are laden with fun and interesting minerals like quartz, staurolite, and especially garnet. Try looking at the base of these exposures for any material which has been freshly weathered away, both to save you some energy from hammering and to preserve the outcrop.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Union, a road cut S of Bigelow PondFeldspar, Moonstone, Cordierite
Rockville, area quarriesWhetstone
Stafford, area mines and quarriesBog Iron Ore, Limonite, Quartz crystals, Staurolite
Tolland, area schist exposuresQuartz crystals (rose quartz), Staurolite, Garnet
Vernon, area schist exposuresQuartz crystals (rose quartz), Staurolite, Garnet

Fairfield County

Almost any rocky exposure or outcrop in this area of Connecticut will offer a good opportunity to do some rockhounding, especially if you can locate and follow a pegmatite vein. The soapstone found around Greenwich is particularly appealing because it happens to be great for carving.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Bridgewater, area mines and depositsCalamine, Galena, Cerussite, Pyromorphite, Sphalerite
Danbury, many area pegmatite outcropsGraphite
Greenwich, area pegmatite outcropsSoapstone
Lane’s Mine in MonroeArsenopyrite, Bismuth, Pyrite, Sphalerite, Wolframite
Redding, area pegmatite outcropsGraphite
Aldrich Park, a rocky exposureQuartz
Long Hill Mine in Old Mine ParkCalcite, Fluorite, Pyrite (cubes), Scheelite, Topaz crystals (blue)
Wilton, an old lead mineArsenopyrite, Bismuth, Galena, Pyrite, Wolframite, Quartz

New Haven County

This area of the state is particularly appealing to me because of the reported finding of agates, especially around Guilford and East Haven. There are also several quarries where you can find, among other things, amethyst crystals. As always, be sure to gain permission to search and collect at each location you wish to visit.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Bethany, outcrops to NGraphite
Cinque Quarry, East HavenAmethyst, Smoky Quartz
Guilford & East Haven, areaAgate
Mt. Carmel, area minesBornite, Chalcocite
Hubbard Park, surrounding reservoirsQuartz
Pine Rock QuarryPrehnite, Calcite, Serpentine
Lamberts MineChalcopyrite
New Haven Traprock QuarryAmethyst

Middlesex County

There are far too many old mines and quarries in the county list individually, but if you can gain access almost any of them will present a great opportunity to find a wide variety of minerals. The fee-to-dig mines are Turkey Hill and the Gillette Quarry offer an especially appealing list of rocks and minerals. I would also recommend checking out the western side of Collins Hill for fun minerals like citrine, tourmaline, and apatite.

LocationRocks & Minerals
Slocum Prospect, East HamptonBeryl, Quartz (rose quartz)
Gillette Quarry, Haddam (fee)Amazonite, Aquamarine, Beryl, Chrysoberyl, Garnet, Quartz crystals, Tourmaline
Long Hill/Turkey Hill Prospects (fee)Beryl, Quartz (smoky), Tourmaline, Topaz, Albite
Middletown, area quarries and minesGalena, Chalcopyrite, Sphalerite
Riverside QuarryAquamarine, Beryl
White Rocks QuarryBeryl, Tourmaline
Pelton’s QuarryCitrine, Quartz (rose, smoky, clear)
Collins Hill, W side near peakApatite, Aquamarine, Beryl, Citrine, Bismuthinite, Columbite, Feldspar, Quartz (rose, smoky, clear), Spodumene, Tourmaline
Walden Gem QuarryAlbite, Aquamarine, Beryl, Pollucite, Garnet, Lepidolite, Spodumene, etc.

New London County

LocationRocks & Minerals
New London, quarries all over the countyApatite, Spodumene
Norwich, area outcropsCorundum, Sillimanite
Plum Bank Beach, in gravelsAgate, Moonstone

Where to Find Garnet in Connecticut

Garnet is the state gemstone of Connecticut, and for good reason. Several varieties of garnet can be found in localities all across the state and any collector in the area will want to be sure to snag some for themselves. As relatively common as it is, you still need to know where to look in order to increase your chances of finding a quality specimen. This list is far from exhaustive (there are countless mines and quarries in Connecticut where garnet and other minerals can be found) but it should give you a good starting point if you want to go look for garnet. I would definitely recommend checking out the Connecticut Geological Survey’s “Garnet Trail”, whose locations I have included in the list below, though not all locations may allow collecting.

The best places to find garnet in Connecticut are:

  • Eisenhower Park, Milford – Look for outcrops of the Wepawaug Schist in the western part of the park. These schists contain small garnets about a half-centimeter in size.
  • Hammonasset Beach, Madison – Small grains of garnet can be found in the sand, especially near Webster Point on the western end of the beach. They are so prevalent they give the sand a pinkish color.
  • Rocky Glen State Park – Accessed via a hiking trail which begins to the south, outcrops of schist in this area contain many small garnets.
  • Salmon River State Forest, Colchester – The best place to find garnets is near the SE corner of the Comstock Covered Bridge. You can also check the gravels all along the banks of the Salmon River.
  • Kongscut Land Trust, Glastonbury – This area is full of hiking trails that pass by garnet-bearing schists and soils.
  • Bolton Notch State Park – A short way from the Mohegan Trail parking lot, head north and locate an exposure of the Littleton Schist.
  • Gerber Lane Road Cut, Tolland – Most of the road cuts in this area expose garnet-bearing schists. Try looking in the talus and debris at their base for garnets that have weathered out of the exposure.
  • Quartzite Hill, Stafford – This is a relatively unique area because the garnets found here are in a quartzite matrix as opposed to schist.

Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!

Connecticut Rockhounding Laws & Regulations

One of the most common questions rockhounds have is whether or not they are allowed to collect at a certain location. It is the responsibility of each rockhound to obtain permission from a landowner to search and/or collect on a piece of property.

The ownership and status of land can and does change frequently, making it impossible to document accurate information on this page. However, I have compiled a list of resources here so that you may investigate and obtain permission for any locations (found here or elsewhere) for yourself.

Public Land Resources

I have written entire articles which cover the rockhounding laws and regulations for nearly every type of public land you can think of. I encourage you to check them out if you are curious about the legalities of rock and mineral collecting.

To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Recreational Maps.

Private Land Resources

As with most states, each county in Connecticut will have records of who owns each piece of property. Unfortunately for rockhounds, the law in most states prohibits them from publishing their names or contact information online. You can usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. In Connecticut, I would recommend starting with the County Assessor’s office.

Sources & Further Reading

The locations and information contained in this article are primarily derived from academic papers, online resources, and other outside sources. If you would like to read some of the source material for yourself I have listed them below. The majority of these locations are my interpretation of Robert Beste’s A Location Guide for Rock Hounds in the United States. Other sources include: