Connecticut's parks, nature centers, arboretums offer great walking trails
From riversides to hill country to the seaside, Connecticut has many wonderful places for walking and hiking. The state parks alone could provide a lifetime of great hikes.
Informational Listings Courtesy of VisitNewEngland.com
Audubon Center of Greenwich
613 Riversville Road
This 285-acre nature sanctuary in the back country of Greenwich has 7 miles of walking trails, nature exhibit displays, a children's learning center, a nature gift shop and nature arts gallery. Nature programs year round for all ages. Trail map.
: Open daily; year-round.
151 Brookdale Road
Set on 63 acres. Visitors will find woodland and swamp environments, as well as a pond. There are several ecology trails, a swamp walk, library and greenhouse. Trail map.
Hours: Open year-round, daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary
314 Unquowa Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
Historic museum highlights natural history of the state with dioramas, wildlife exhibits, and dinosaur footprints. Adjacent 6-acre sanctuary with trails.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The six-acre Birdcraft Sanctuary is open daily, year-round, from dawn to dusk.
Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield
-- Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary
2325 Burr Street
The Larsen Sanctuary is next to the Audubon Center at Fairfield. The land has streams, ponds, forest, fields, and seven miles of trails and boardwalks with information signs. There is a wheelchair-accessible trail call the Chiboucas Trail. A brochure and trail map are available at the Center. There is an admission fee except for Audubon members and Fairfield residents.
10 Woodside Lane
Natural history museum with exhibits for children, live animals, trails, playground and a gift shop are all part of this wildlife sanctuary. This 62-acre property has several easy trails, including a universal access trail that can be used by people in wheelchairs or using walkers. It is an old farm and still shows evidence of stone walls, open fields, and wagon roads through the woods. Dogs are not permitted on the trails.
Admission: Adults and children older than 12, $7; children and seniors, $5. Grounds and outdoor bird enclosures free.
Hours: Open: Year-round, daily except major holidays
Newman-Woodward Trail (20 minutes) winds through an oak and beech forest with high leaf canopy and silvery trunks.
Wadsworth Trail (15 minutes) follows a wetlands. Many amphibians live in the standing water in spring. Good trail to see ferns and wildflowers.
Universal Design Nature Trail is accessible to people wheelchairs or using walkers. The trail winds through an open meadow where native grasses and abundant birdlife can be found.
High Woods Trail (20 minutes) travels through open fields and mixed hardwood forests. Good location for watching hawks in the fall.
Eloise A. Ray Trail (20 minutes) is an old farmstead now covered with locust trees and shrubs. Good trail for bird watching.
Swamp Loop Trail (30 minutes) is the best for viewing spring and summer wildflowers. The trail winds past a swamp, a freshwater stream, a pond, and woodlands. Watch letterboxes along the trail.
Lucius Pond Ordway/Devil's Den Preserve
33 Pent Road
This 2,000-acres preserve contains woodlands, wetlands, streams, rock ledges and ridges. Twenty miles of trails take walkers past a mill pond dating from the 1700s; a shrubby marsh along the Saugatuck River; a high rock formation with a spectacular view; and Ambler Gorge.
Hours: Daily, year-round
Mianus River Preserve & Park / Cary Road Nature Preserve / Mianus Pond
Greenwich/Stamford border, CT
This preserve begins 1,000 feet north of the Post Road on the eastern side of Mianus Pond. It is a haven for hikers, with undisturbed woods and a steep shoreline and lovely views. Foot access is from the northern ends of Westview Place and Cary Road.
To get there: Take U.S. 1 toward Stamford; after leaving Cos Cob and crossing the Mianus Bridge turn left onto Cary Road. Mianus Park is on Cary Road.
Hours: Year-round, daily, daylight hours.
New Canaan Nature Center
144 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT 06840
Take a fascinating look into the science and nature in the area. Set on 40 acres, the nature center features gardens and a solar-heated greenhouse, as well as many trails, exhibits, an arboretum, live animals, and a maple sugar shed.
Hours: Grounds open dawn to dusk daily; buildings and officer open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Donation requested.
One of Connecticut's most picturesque spots features a lovely park, surrounded by historic homes and churches. A favorite setting for wedding photographs and the perfect place for a stroll.
Weir Farm National Historic Site
735 Nod Hill Road
A national park that was the impressionist artist J. Alden Weir's summer home. The park hosts many exhibits and special programs. Visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking and nature trails.
Hours: Grounds open year-round, daily, dawn to dusk; Visitor Center open April through November, Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; December-March, Saturday and Sunday,10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Devil's Hopyard State Park
366 Hopyard Road
East Haddam, CT
The centerpiece of this beautiful park is the 60-foot Chapman Falls. A popular hiking and camping area, the park also has areas for fresh-water fishing, as will as some scenic picnic spots. Activities include bicycling, birding, camping, hiking, picnicking, and stream fishing.
Hours: The park is open from 8 am to sunset.
Admission: There are no parking fees, but there is a nightly camping fee.
Dinosaur State Park
400 West Street
Rocky Hill, CT
One of New England's most amazing places, Dinosaur Park features authentic dinosaur tracks that are 200 million years old. These are protected under a dome, which also houses exhibits and special programs. Surrounding the Exhibit Center are more than two miles of nature trails and the Dinosaur State Park Arboretum, containing more than 250 species and cultivars of plant families that lived in the Age of Dinosaurs.
Hours: Grounds are open year-round, daily, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. Exhibit Center is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is wheel-chair accessible.
Admission: Admission is charged for the Exhibit Center only. Adults over age 13, $6; youth age 6-12, $2.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and Farmington River Trail
Granby, East Granby, Suffield, Unionville, Collinsville, Burlington, Canton, and Simsbury , CT
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
stretches from New Haven to the Massachusetts border before continuing into Massachusetts for a total length of 80.5 miles, passing through and 13 towns. The trail, for walkers and bicyclists, runs along abandoned rail corridors and canal tow paths. The Farming River Trail
is an 18.2-mile loop trail that connects to the Heritage Trail at location in Farmington and Simsbury. It touches on the towns of Unionville, Collinsville, Burlington, and Canton. Much of the trail hugs the banks of the Farmington River.
Online trail maps
provided by the Farmington Valley Trails Council show the full trail and its various segments, with helpful information on parking and other needs.
Gay City State Park
This rustic, rural park is the perfect place for fishing, hiking and walking, and cross-country skiing in the winter. An extensive trail system is maintained in cooperation with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, which provides volunteer assistance. For information on volunteering for trail activities throughout the state contact the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
Hours: The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Gates open for the season on the third Saturday in April. Gates close for the season after Columbus Day weekend. Winter parking is available off-season.
Gillette Castle State Park and Mansion
67 River Road, off Route 82
East Haddam, CT 06423
One of the most remarkable parks in the state, Gillette Castle State Park features a mansion built in 1919 for actor William Gillette, who was famous for his role as Sherlock Holmes. The park is set on the Connecticut River and features fishing areas, short hiking trails and picnic spots. The trails often follow, over trestle and through tunnel, the actor's three-mile-long narrow gauge railroad. Gillette's own walking paths were constructed with near-vertical steps, stone-arch bridges, and wooded trestles spanning up to forty feet.
Hours: Memorial Day to Columbus Day, daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The grounds are open year round. Tours offered; call for schedule.
Admission: There are no fees for parking or visiting the park grounds. A per person charge applies for Castle tours.
191 Farmington Avenue
This park is home to a farm, a collection of exotic animals, a system of trails, science exhibits and programs led by the New Britain Youth Museum.
Hours: Year-round, Tuesday-Friday
East Hampton, CT
An 884-acre park on the east bank of the Connecticut River. Canoeing, including facilities for canoe camping, fishing, hiking and cross-country ski trails, and picnic areas are available.
Hours: Gates are closed after the first snow falls, and open after it melts in the Spring. There is winter parking available for hiking and cross-country skiing.
Admission: No parking fee.
Lock 12 Historical Park
487 North Brooksvale Road (Route 42)
Cheshire, CT 06410
Restored section of Farmington Canal (1828-48). Park also includes museum, lockkeeper's house, helicoidal bridge, 2.9-mile hiking and biking trail, picnic area.
Hours: Biking trail and picnic area open year-round, call for museum schedule.
Oak Grove Nature Center
Oak Grove Street
This 52-acre nature preserve and nature center is operated by the nearby Lutz Children's Museum. The property has a pond, a covered bridge, and two easy walking trails totaling about 3 miles of walking distance on dirt paths.
Hours: Trails are open dawn to dusk. Center open for museum activities and by arrangement.
Roaring Brook Nature Center
70 Gracey Road
This nature center features walking trails, live animals and an Indian longhouse. The Nature Center uses the 100-acre Werner farm property and woods, and maintains its hiking trails, bluebird boxes, and wildlife habitats. The trails are used hiking, cross-country skiing, and passive enjoyment of the outdoors. A self-guiding trail guide, and trail maps
may be purchased at the nature store.
Hours: Walking trails are open dawn until dusk.
Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area
Visitors to this natural preserve are treated to a beaver marsh, an observation tower, and a waterfall. Walking and hiking trails feature information signs and demonstrations of wildlife management practices.
Hours: Year-round, dawn to dusk.
Stratton Brook State Park
149 Farms Village Road (Route 309)
Stratton Brook is a completely wheelchair-accessible park offering swimming, picnicking, and interpretive programs in a beautifully wooded setting. Activities bicycling, hiking, field sports, picnicking, fishing, swimming, cross-country skiing, ice skating. Easy walking on mostly level dirt paths up to a distance of 10 miles over a variety of trails.
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset.
Admission: CT residents, $9; non-residents, $15.
Talcott Mountain State Park
This park is located on the site of a Hartford family's former summer home. The main feature is the Heublein Tower, 165 feet high, with four states visible from the top. The Tower Trail is 1.25 miles long; a walk to the Tower takes 30 to 40 miles. The tower can be reached only by foot. A section of the Metacomet Trail also passes through the park. It is maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
Hours: Park is open 8 a.m. to sunset. Tower is open late May to late August, Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Labor Day through October 31, daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: No parking fee.
Tomasso Nature Park
Granger Lane off Route 177 (Unionville Avenue)
This 11 acre nature park includes 4 acres of wetlands. Visitors can observe varieties of animals, birds and fish. Walking trails provide ample views of native flora.
March 15 - November 15, dawn to dusk
East Hartland, Burlington, East Plymouth, Southington, CT
The Tunxis Trail, in north-central Connecticut, is part of the blue-blaze trail system, composed of 22 trails in four sections. The Northern Trail is 22 miles long, from the Massachusetts border through Tunxis State Forest. Nepaug region trail is 7.2 miles long, through New Hartford, over Garret Mountain and through Nepaug and Burlington. The Burlington region trail is a network west of Burlington. The Southington region 14 miles of trails crossing Southington, Compounce, and South Mountains. These trails are maintained by volunteers and are among the most popular Connecticut trails for walkers of all abilities.
Best resource for trail maps and trail access is the Connecticut Walk Book (West). You can purchase the book from Connecticut Forest and Park Association's online bookstore
, some local bookstores or some local libraries. Information: www.ctwoodlands.org/trails
American Legion State Forest
West River Road
The rocky terrain of this state forest is home to a small campsite, picnic areas, fishing, sports areas, hunting, and trails for hiking and cross-country skiing. Hiking trails are:
The Henry Buck Trail starts at the old bridge site on West River Road 2.5 miles north of Pleasant Valley. The trail leads up through the forest, climbs the Tremendous Cliffs, and continues down the north slope to end close to the starting point. Turkey Vultures Ledges Trail beginson Legion Road, off of West River Road, north of the campground. This half-mile and easy hike leads to a scenic overlook.
HOurs: The forest recreation areas are open from 8 am to sunset.
Route 41 three miles north of Salisbury
Bear Mountain in Salisbury has the tallest point in Connecticut at 2,316 feet. There are several trails to the top, and all are categorized as strenuous. One trail to Bear Mountain is the Undermountain Trail, which you can get onto about three miles north of Salisbury off of Route 41. (A a dirt parking lot on the left hand side may be obscured by bushes in summer.) Undermountain Trail rises straight up for two miles and then meets the Appalachian Trial. When you reach the large wooden trail sign as Undermountain and Appalachian Trails meet, turn right onto the Appalachian Trail. Walks another mile to the top of Bear Mountain; there is a short, steep rise the last few 100 yards. Length: 5-6 miles round trip.
Bull's Covered Bridge River Walk
Bull's Bridge Road
A scenic part of the Appalachian Trail. Hikers can enjoy the Bull's Bridge Scenic Trail loop, featuring views of waterfalls and gorges down below on the Housatonic River. The covered bridge was built in 1842. The trail follows the Housatonic River to Ten Mile River Gorge, and then up to the top of Ten Mile Hill.
Directions: At the intersection of routes 341 and 7 in Kent, follow Route 7 south for three miles; turn right onto Bull's Bridge Road; cross the first bridge; go through the covered bridge; cross a third bridge, and park on the left White blazes mark the entrance to the Appalachian Trail. The entrance to Bull's Bridge Scenic Loop is between the covered bridge and the first parking area and is not blazed. Moderate difficulty.
Burr Pond State Park
384 Burr Mountain Road
Visitors can enjoy hiking and cross-country ski trails. Hike the trails in search of the bronze tablet marking Connecticut's role in the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution.
Dennis Hill State Park
State Route 272
The centerpiece of this park is the view for the top of hiking trails at 1,627 feet. Hiking and cross-country skiing trails, picnicking areas. The park features the Romantic Ramble trail, a trip to a gazebo where a lazy picnic can be enjoyed. In addition, hikers can amble up to the top of Dennis hill for a panoramic view of three states.
Flanders Nature Center
Flanders Nature Center has access to many walking and hiking trails on the Van Vleck Farm and Nature Sanctuary and the Whittemore Sanctuary. Trails are used for birding watching, nature photography, and in the winter cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Some trail names are “Wildlife Vegetation Trail,” “Farm Trail,” “Wilderness Trail,” “Botany Trail,” and “Old Orchard Trail.” Trails at the Whittemore Sanctuary offer views of natural vistas. Trails open from sunrise to sunset. Trail maps are available at the Welcome Center at the Van Vleck Farm Sanctuary at the corner of Church Hill and Flanders Roads in Woodbury.Trail maps.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
H.C. Barnes Nature Center
175 Shrub Road
This nature center features a variety of self-guiding trails, as well as interpretive exhibits and a nature library. The 70 acre sanctuary is home to a variety of species.
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 2-5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
State Route 272
At the summit of this 1,716 foot peak is a 34 foot high tower. A half-mile trail leads visitors from the parking lot to the tower, from which Long Island Sound, the Berkshires and New York State can be seen.
This pristine, wooded refuge sits on 66 acres and offers prime observation areas for both birds and animals. Hiking trails wend their way through almost the entire site.
Hop Brook Dam Park
Set along a dam, this lake park features picnic areas, swimming, and the Larkin Bridle Trail, used for hiking, cross country skiing and horse trail riding.
Housatonic Meadows State Park
Along the banks of the Housatonic River, this park features fly-fishing, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, canoeing and a public camping site.
Huntington State Park
Sunset Hill Road
State park has trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, fresh water fishing and picnic areas.
Jacksons Cove Park
This small lakeside park features both swimming and boating areas, as well as scenic hikes around the lake.
Kent Falls State Park
462 Kent Cornwall Road (Route 7)
One of the most visually stunning places in Connecticut, Kent Falls features a 200-foot, cascading waterfall. Visitors can walk a one-quarter-mile stair path along the falls that allows views of the fall from top to bottom. Although not difficult to walk, it is steep. There are many scenic vantage points along the trail. The park also has picnic areas and fishing areas.
Admission: Parking fee weekends and holidays if $9 to $15. No charge to park on weekdays.
Kettletown State Park
1400 George's Hill Road (Off I-84 at Exit 15)
Visitors can enjoy nature programs, fishing, hiking trails (including one for the handicapped), swimming and picnic areas. Campers can rent a site in the park. The name Kettletown comes from history: settlers purchased the territory from the natives for the price of one brass kettle.
Admission: Parking fee is $9 for state-registered vehicles and $15 for out-of-state vehicles
Little-Laurel Lime Ridge Park
Tomlinson & Laurel Ridge roads
This 209-acre park is managed by the town of Seymour, The land has wild woods with extensive hiking trails. Wonderful views of Housatonic River and valley can be seen from park trails. The park also is noted for its limestone caves.
Macedonia Brook State Park
CT State Route 342
Park set on 2,300 acres. Trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, fishing, sports fields, camping. Views of the Taconic and Catskill Mountains.
Mattatuck State Forest
see link to driving directions below
parts of Harwinton, Litchfield, Plymouth, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, CT
Mattatuck’s many parcels cross several town borders and offer many outdoor and forest experiences for hiking, mountain biking, letterboxing, and hunting. Various trails lead hikers past interesting topography to excellent overlooks. Hunters, in season, make use of the forest for its wide variety of wildlife.
Whiterock Trailhead: From the intersections of Route 262 and Route 6 in Plymouth, drive south on Route 262 for three and a half miles and park in the unmarked pull-off on the right. The trail descends to the south at first; joins the blue blazed main trail; turns west; follow to the summit.
Greystone Trailhead: From Routes 262 and 6 in Plymouth drive south on Route 262 for five miles to the trail head. There is no parking at the trailhead; park at the bottom of the hill and walk back up to the trail head. Enter the woods at the barred gate; cross the bridge; hike to the summit. Trail map.
Mine Hill Preserve
Mine Hill Road
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the preserve is set on a former iron ore mine and blast furnace. Granite quarries on the property provided stones used in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central Station in New York City. A looping trail of under 4 miles will take hikers along the Donkey Trail (where donkeys used to pull ore wagons), past mine shafts and tunnels, and old mine and furnace foundations. Side trails will take hikers to the granite quarries.
Mohawk State Park
Mohawk State Park features 1,683 foot Mohawk Mountain. The Mohawk trail is available for hiking, there are cross-country ski trails, snowmobiling, fishing and picnic areas. There is a charge for skiing.
Mount Tom State Park
Mount Tom is one of the oldest parks in the state park system. A stone tower on top of the mountain is a favored destination for hikers. The summit of the mountain is 1325 feet above sea level. The tower trail is less than one mile long and rises some 500 feet. The summit offers wonderful views.
Admission: Parking fee is $6 to $15, depending on day of the week and whether vehicle is registered in or out of state.
Osbornedale State Park
State park features fishing areas, winter ice skating and cross-country skiing, hiking trails and a picnic area.
Peoples State Forest
East River Road
Along the Farmington River, this forest features hunting areas, fishing areas, hiking and cross-country ski trails, snowmobiling, and sports fields. Of particular interest is the Mathies Grove picnic area, set among great pines that are more than 200 years old.
Hiking trails include the Beaver Swamp Loop, which leads visitors past the remains of 18th and 19th century charcoal pits and ancient Indian villages, as well as the ruins of a colonial home. Another trail also forks off to the site of an ancient Indian soapstone quarry. A campground also is available.
123 Mad River Road
This park is home to the beginning of the Mattatuck trail, a 35 mile hike that wends its way up to Mohawk Mountain, in the Litchfield Hills.
Peterson Park has over 65 acres of open space and forests and it is the beginning of the 35-mile Mattatuck Trail. This trail extends northwest to Mohawk Mountain in the Town of Cornwall where it joins the Appalachian Trail.
Putnam Memorial State Park
This historic park has facilities for picnicking, hiking and cross-country skiing trails and a pond for ice skating.
Saugatuck Reservoir Trails
Saugatuck Reservoir is part of a big land preserve in southwestern Connecticut. It is surrounded by 65 miles of hiking trails wending through Redding, Easton, and Weston through woodlands and fields, along shorelines, up rocky mountain sides with great views, and along interesting wetlands. These trails are part of the blue-blazed trail system managed by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. To hike here, you must contact Aquarion Water Company and ask for a free map of the trail system, which serves as your hiking permit. Contact www.aquarion.com or call 203-452-3511.
Directions: Get onto the trail at the parking lot at the corner of Route 53 and Valley Forge Road, which is 3.5 miles north of Weston Center. To access the trail, walk down the hill on Valley Forge Road for 0.15 miles. The trailheads will be on the left to head north or the right to head south.
325 Cornwall Bridge Road / Route 4
Sharon, CT 06069
Nature trails meander through gardens, woods and around ponds. Watch for a wide variety of plants, birds, bobcats, beavers, river otters, and deer. Many migratory birds use the property as a lay-over point. The Visitor Center houses the Nature Store, Natural History Museum, and Exhibit Room with live animals and displays and a Children's Adventure Center. Gift shop and book store.
Hours: The Visitors Center and Nature Store are open year round, Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The building is closed on all major holidays.
Admission: Trails and most programs are $3 for adults; $1.50 for seniors; $1.50 for children
Squantz Pond State Park
New Fairfield, CT
This year-round recreation area features a boating and swimming area, fishing, ice skating, hiking and cross-country ski trails, and picnic areas.
Topsmead State Forest
Topsmead is an English tudor mansion, the summer estate of Edith Morton Chase, set on 511 acres. During the summer the house is open for tours. The grounds are open year-round and feature hiking, sledding, cross country skiing, as well as picnic areas. Numerous trails and unpaved lanes are available for walking. In addition, the Edith M. Chase Ecology Trail offers a one-mile walk with interpretive signs.
Hours: The grounds are open from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Walking Tour of Plymouth Center
Begins the Town Green, 10 Park Street
Plymouth began as a settlement of the Naugatuck River in the 1730s. This walking tour of this lovely Litchfield town begins at the Town Green and proceeds to the town's Burying Ground, where the oldest gravestone dates to 1749. Soldiers from
the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War,
and the War of 1812 are buried here. The Soldiers Monument commemorates
Abraham Lincoln and 38 men from
Plymouth who died in The Civil War.
Other New England edifices include the Congregational Church, several historic homes, the Gothic Revival Baptist Church, a beautiful post office, and The Quiet, a historic inn where the owner would not serve alcohol. The walk is about a half mile long. Guide.
White Memorial Conservation Center and Museum
Sanctuary is set on 4,000 acres features 35 miles of trails, including a wooden boardwalk through wetland areas. The sanctuary museum examines the flora and fauna on the property more closely. Visitors can also enjoy the gift shop. A 3-mile trail is ideal for the novice and nature lover, and takes visitors alongside the Bantam River and along a one-mile wooden boardwalk that will take you through a large portion of the sanctuary's wetlands.
Open: Year-round, daily
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Set on 146 acres, the nature center has numerous walking and hiking trails. The area offers great opportunities for birdwatching and observation of geology. Regular walks and programs are scheduled throughout the year. Gift shop on the premises.
Located on 149 acres of state-protected land, the Woodcock Nature Preserve includes a pond, wetlands and three miles of trails through woods. The center keeps many living local and exotic creatures including snakes, frogs and lizards. A few injured birds of prey live at the center. Trail map.
Hours: Monday-Friday and most Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; summers, Monday-Friday only. The trails are open daily from dawn to dusk.
Barn Island State Wildlife Management Area
Palmer Neck Road
The 1,013-acre Barn Island Wildlife Management Area is the state's largest coastal property managed for wildlife conservation. The property includes hilly uplands, farm and open fields, mixed hardwood forests and salt, brackish and freshwater tidal wetlands. The site is a popular hiking, wildlife observation and deer hunting in season. Nearly 4 miles of trails are available at this site.
Bluff Point Coastal Reserve
Depot Road, off US Route 1
Bluff Point Coastal Reserve offers a hiking through woods and along a stony coastline along with viewing of wildlife and sea birds on Long Island Sound. The trail to the bluff passes through wooded and open areas until the view broadens as the bluff is approached. Here vegetation is more sparse and diminutive because of wind exposure. The long, narrow beach is a remnant of the continental glaciers. Activities include beach hiking , saltwater fishing, mountain biking, shell fishing. Parking is free.
A permit is required for shell fishing. Permits are issued by the Town of Groton. Town offices are located at Route 1 and Depot Road. Telephone: 860-441-6600.
Center at Pomfret (Audubon Bird Conservation area)
218 Day Road
Pomfret Center, CT
Maintained by the Connecticut Audubon Society. Designated trails run throughout the property. The Audobon Society hosts frequent guided birdwalks and workshops on gardening and area wildlife. The Center at Pomfret manages the 168-acre Trail Wood Sanctuary. See Santuary Map on Center's website
Hours: Trail Wood Sanctuary, year-round, daily, dawn to dusk
Phone: Nature Conservancy at 203-568-6270
The Nature Conservancy maintains this two-mile trail, which is an old farm road, through former farm property. It is now mainly a forest of oaks, The Route passes a beaver pond and returns by way of Old Kings Highway, a grass-covered walk. Also a good site for cross-country skiing and bird watching.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
Perched aside a wooded section of the Connecticut River, Essex
is the quintessential New England riverside town of historic clapboard buildings and tree-lined streets. Its three village centers have fine examples of Colonial and Federal architecture. A walk through town would start at the Essex town dock at the end of Main Street and then proceed up Main Street, passing the Connecticut River Museum and Griswold Inn. Where Main Street splits, turn left onto North Main and walk toward the Riverview Cemetery. Continuing, take a left on Grove Street and a left on Prospect Street to loop back to your starting point.
Fenton-Ruby Park and Wildlife Preserve
This 300-acre nature preserve and park offers ample opportunity for wildlife observation and bird-watching. A one mile, marked trail runs through the preserve. In addition, there are 4.2 miles of hiking trails. Pets must be leashed. Trash is carry in, carry out. Cross coutry skiing and snowshoeing allowed. Bicycling only on Burman Road. Map at http://bit.ly/WV1tGH
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
James L. Goodwin Forest
Covering more than three square miles, this state forest offers a variety of trails for walking, bicycling, and cross country skiing as well as horseback riding. A two-thirds mile stewardship trail leaves the gardens and follows a loop through several forest areas. A brochure at the garden gazebo explains the types of forests along the trail.
For longer walks, 10 miles of white-, red-, and yellow-marked trails surround the 135-acre Pine Acres Lake and Brown Hill Pond. The Natchaug Trail follows the west bank of Pine Acres Lake, then passes Black Spruce Pond and Orchard Hill before returning to Natchaug River and Route 198. Trail maps are available at the site.
Hours: Year-round, daily, dawn until dusk.
Moosup Valley State Park Trail
This trail runs for 6 miles along the bed of an old railroad. The surface is ballast, crushed stone, dirt, grass, gravel, and sand. It is used by walkers, bicyclists, and cross country skiers. Much of the trail follows the Moosup River into Rhode Island. The trail begins with a large, re-decked trestle bridge and lateer it becomes more rural and wooded. Views of a quarry.
Mountain Laurel Sanctuary in Nipmuck State Forest
Near intersection of routes 89 and 190
Leisurely walking trails wind through the mountain laurel, Connecticut's official state flower. Viewing is best in June and July, when the laurel are in bloom.
The sanctuary entrance is a short distance from the intersection of routes 89 and 190 and is well marked. Pets must be leashed.
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset.
Quinebaug River Trail
Danielson and Putnam, CT
This four-mile trail winds along two rivers. It is paved and is used by walkers, bicyclists, and cross country skiers. The Quinebaug River Trail has two segments. The southern segment follows the Quinebaug River in Danielson, beginning at Palmer Street and Prospect Avenue, crossing a bridge over Fivemile Pond, then heading south along the east bank of the river to Gloria Avenue. The northern segment runs between the Holiday Inn just west of the Attawaugan Crossing/Ballouville Exit off I-395 and Park Road in Putnam. The segment parallels Tracy and Park roads.
Rock Spring Wildlife Refuge / Preserve
Pudding Hill Road (Route 97) three miles south of Route 6
Phone: Nature Conservancy: 203-568-6270
The three-mile loop trail has options for shorter hikes leading through mature oak forest, open fields, and along Little River on this 450-acre property. Trails lead past glacial kettle ponds to an overlook of the Little River Valley. Used for hiking, cross country skiing, bird watching. Rock Spring preserve and parking area are on the right, just north of the James V. Spignesi Jr. Wildlife Management Area.
Roseland Park Road, off Route 169
This park has been an area favorite almost since it was opened in 1876. It consists of 60.3 acres of wooded land and waterfront along Roseland Lake. Although the park is private property, it is open to the public. The park includes lovely Roseland Cottage Roseland Cottage, operated by the Historic Society of New England. Hiking trails run through the park.
Hours: December 1-March 14, 8 a.m. to sunset; March 15-November 30, 7 a.m. to sunset.
Schoolhouse Brook Park
Clover Mill Road, off Route 195
Phone: Mansfield Recreation Department: 860-429-3015
Schoolhouse Brook Park is 455 acres or mostly woodlands and it includes Bicentennial Pond, Barrows Pond and Schoolhouse Brook. The park has are 8.54 miles of blazed hiking trails for walking and cross country skiing. Trails pass spring wildflowers, wetland habitat, signs of glacial activity, an old stone dam, quartz deposits, evergreen forest, stone wall junctures, marsh and plantation, hardwood forest, pond views, stone bridge, and old orchard remains.
Shelter Falls Park
This 75-acre property managed by the state offer 1.7 miles of easy trail through hardwood forest and wetlands lined by stone walls. A short walk along Cedar Swamp Brook leads to a waterfall known as Shelter Falls. A large rock at the site makes a good place to stop for lunch or scenic viewing of the surroundings.
Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center
10 Deerfield Lane
Ansonia, CT 06401
Once a small family-owned dairy farm, the park is laced with two and one-half miles of nature trails. The land encompasses 104 acres of wooded hills and grassy fields bisected by streams, a two acre pond, wet meadows, and an upland swamp. The site provides habitat for many species of New England flora and fauna.
Hours: Daily sunup to sundown; interpretive center open 9 a.m. t o 5 p.m. daily except on major holidays.
East Rock Park
bounded by Livingston Street, Davis Street, State Street and the Mill River
New Haven, CT
This 425-acre park offers nature and walking and bicycling trails, playgrounds, recreational areas, a bird sanctuary, and a spectacular view of Long Island Sound. Recreational opportunities include baseball fields and basketball courts; bicycling on paved roads; paddling on the Mill River; fishing and crabbing; football and soccer fields; ice skating; picnicking and playgrounds; an 800-foot self-guided nature trail; sledding.
For hikers and walkers, the park has 10 miles of trails for jogging, walking, and cross-country skiing. The Giant Steps Trail is a spectacular 285-foot climb to the Summit. It starts at the English Drive gate along the north side of Rice Field. The Giant Steps Trail is designated with red triangle trail markers. Park map.
Hours: Open sunrise to sunset.
New Haven, CT
Edgewood Park is an important and well-loved outdoor resource for the people and visitors of New Haven. The park offers places to walk and jog, watch birds, play tennis, skateboard at Coogan Pavilion, or just relax by a lovely pond. The park roads, closed to automobiles, are excellent for walking, jogging, bicycling and cross-country skiing. In addition to the Sensory Trail, there are secondary trails to explore. Bicycles permitted on paved roads only.
The park includes: Coogan Pavilion & Gazebo, a playground, several ponds and the city's West River, many walking trails and a sensory trail, a skate park, a dog run, and wetlands viewing station, and more.
Hours: Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset
Grove Street Cemetery
New Haven, CT
A beautiful, peaceful, and historic walk in an older city can usually be found at a garden cemetery. Grove Street Cemetery
in New Haven, surrounded by regal Yale University, sits behind a stone wall and iron fence along Grove and Prospect streets. The cemetery, which has been called the Westminster of Yale, contains the graves of Yale luminaries, like Eli Whitney and Noah Webster. The cemetery was established in 1797; it beauty if enhanced by the architectural gem of an Egyptian Revival-style gateway entrance on High Street.
Mattabesett Trail -- Route 77 to Route 17
Route 77 and Fire Tower Road (north of Bluff Head Cemetery)
Guilford, CT 06437
This five-mile-long and moderately difficult trail is part of the 220-mile New England Trail. Start your walk at the Bluff Head trail head parking area on Route 77 near Bluff Head Cemetery. This route is part of the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System. Bluff Head has wonderful southward views to Long Island Sound and north to the Coginchaug Valley. The trail is rocky and has some inclines.
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail
Oregon Road and River Road
South Meriden, CT 06451
This easy, paved trail is a little more than one mile in length. It is on the bed of the old Connecticut River Railroad. Walkers will see majestic views of the Quinnipiac River in an area known as the Gorge. The trail has kiosks that provide information, and some letterboxes can be found. Its entrance is two stone columns at Lion’s Club Park at the handicapped parking area on Oregon Road at Red Bridge. Another entry point is Finch Avenue in Meriden. General parking is accessible from the Dossin Beach parking area alongside Hanover Pond on Oregon Road.
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Walking Tours of Art at Yale University
and Architecture of New Haven
New Haven , CT
The campus of Yale University in the city of New Haven is rich with public art and interesting architecture. Yale and the city want visitors to find and enjoy these gems among the bustle of everyday life. A very helpful map and self-guided walking tour
of art on the Yale campus is available, with explanations and directions to public works by Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. Also, the Yale Visitor Center at 149 Elm Street leads free group walking tours of public art at Yale by request; call the Visitor Center (203-432-2300) a week before the requested date.
Similarly, the city offers a walking tour of New Haven architecture
, which includes part of the Yale campus, along with Science Hill and the Yale Medical Center. The tour visits buildings by Louis I. Kahn, Paul Rudolph, Cesar Pelli, and Eero Saarinen. On the tour, you can soak in a wide range of architectural styles and see how those styles mesh to create a distinctive city.
West Rock Ridge State Park
West Rock Ridge is a major feature of the New Haven region skyline, offering vast views of New Haven harbor and Long Island Sound. This small state park has areas for paddling, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking. The red-and-white blazed trails are available fo many uses, include walking, horseback riding, mountain bikes, and cross-country skiing, All other trails are for foot traffic only.
Hours: The park is open for walk-in access from 8 a.m. to sunset. The south overlook drive to the summit is open for vehicles from Memorial Day through October.
Admission: no parking fee