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.

Featured Listings

Connecticut College Arboretum Connecticut College Arboretum New London CT

270 Mohegan Avenue New London, CT 06320 Phone: 860-439-5020

Over 750 acres of beautifully preserved open space

Connecticut College Arboretum's 750 acres include the college campus, plant collections, natural areas, and managed areas. Its three major plants collections for public enjoyment are the Campus Landscape with 120 acres of trees and shrubs from around the world; the Native Plant collection, with 20 acres of woody plants and wildflowers indigenous to North America with a pond, and walking trails; Caroline Black Garden with an exquisite display of diverse woody plants in a garden setting. Open every day from sunrise to sunset. Free public guided tours every Sunday afternoon May - October at 2 p.m. Call 860-439-5060 for more information. Private group tours can be arranged upon request.
Informational Listings Courtesy of VisitNewEngland.com

Audubon Center of Greenwich Audubon Center of Greenwich

613 Riversville Road Greenwich, CT Phone: 203-869-5272

This full-service nature center with lots of exhibits and activities also offers 7 miles of walking trails. See full description of Audubon Center of Greenwich.

Bartlett Arboretum Bartlett Arboretum

151 Brookdale Road Stamford, CT Phone: 203-322-6971

This large property offers nature viewing and education, along with lots of marked walking trails. Guided tours during warm seasons visit the Cottage, Perennial & Sundial Gardens; Red Maple Wetlands & Wildflower Meadow; Fall Wildflower & Tree Identification; and Champion & Notable Tree Collection. See full description of Barlette Arboretum.

Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum

314 Unquowa Road Fairfield, CT 06824 Phone: 203-259-0416

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.
Information: www.ctaudubon.org/birdcraft-museum.

Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield
-- Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary CT Audubon Society Nature Center

2325 Burr Street Fairfield, CT Phone: 203-259-6305

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.

Earthplace Earthplace

10 Woodside Lane Westport, CT Phone: 203-227-7253

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
Information: www.earthplace.org
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.

Indian Well State Park Indian Well State Park Shelton CT

Howe Avenue Shelton, CT Phone: 203-735-4311

Sweet riverside park for water sports and picnicking. Easy walking trails along the river.

This park along the Houstonic River has mapped walking trails through beautiful woods. Park map. See full description of Indian Well State Park

Lucius Pond Ordway/Devil's Den Preserve Ordway Preserve

33 Pent Road Weston, CT Phone: 203-226-4991

This is the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Connecticut. It protects part of the watershed of the Saugatuck River. The property includes woodlands, wetlands and rock ledges and a series of north-south ridges and valleys woven with streams and swamps. Good place for hiking and bird watching.
Trail map.

Mianus River Preserve & Park / Cary Road Nature Preserve / Mianus Pond Mianus River Preserve

Cary Road Greenwich/Stamford border, CT Phone: 203-977-4692

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 Phone: 203-966-9577

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.
Information: www.newcanaannature.org/

Old Greenwich Old Greenwich

Greenwich, CT

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.

Cockaponset State Forest and Pattaconk Lake Recreation Area Cockaponset State Forest and Pattaconk Lake Recreation Area Haddam CT

18 Ranger Road Haddam, CT Phone: 860-566-2304

Large state forest; good for fishing, hiking & walking, horseback riding, snowmobiling

Follow color-coded marked trails past Stevenson Pond, Tower Hill Lake, Deep River, Horse Pond, and serene brooks and streams.
Northern section map.
Southern section map.
Weber Woods map.
See Cockaponset State Forest and Pattaconk Lake Recreation Area for full description of this park.

Devil's Hopyard State Park Devil's Hopyard State Park East Haddam CT

366 Hopyard Road East Haddam, CT Phone: 860-873-8566

Popular hiking and camping area with scenic picnic spots and fresh-water fishing.

The red and white nature trail is about a quarter-mile long and offers wildlife viewing opportunities. Including this one, there are some shorter trails surrounding a small pond in the park’s southern region. Explore scenic views along the Yellow Witch Hazel and Orange Vista Trails. See full description of Devil's Hopyard State Park.

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and Farmington River Trail Farmington Canal Trail

Granby, East Granby, Suffield, Unionville, Collinsville, Burlington, Canton, and Simsbury, CT Phone: 860-202-3928

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.
Information: http://bit.ly/SupDYs

Gay City State Park

Route 85 Hebron, CT Phone: 860-295-9523

This rustic, rural park is the perfect place for fishing, along with biking, hiking, walking, and cross-country skiing on numerous trails. Hiking map.
Hours: The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Season is the Saturday in April through Columbus Day weekend. Winter parking is available.

Gillette Castle State Park and Mansion

67 River Road, off Route 82 East Haddam, CT 06423 Phone: 860-526-2336

Park offers riverside walks; fishing; picnicking; tours of unusual 1919 mansion

Short, steep, and sweet hikes abound on this property, the former home of a famous stage actor of the early 20th century. Many picnic spots overlook the beautiful Connecticut River far below the top the hill, where a fanciful castle was the home of William Gillette. See full description of Gilltte Castle State Park and Mansion

Lock 12 Historical Park

487 North Brooksvale Road (Route 42) Cheshire, CT 06410 Phone: 203-272-2743

Walk along this historical park’s 2.9-mile hiking and biking trail, then enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors. Grounds are open year-round. Be sure to explore the restored Canal.

Oak Grove Nature Center

Oak Grove Street Manchester, CT Phone: 860-643-0949

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.
Information: www.lutzmuseum.org/naturecenter.cfm

Penwood State Park

Route 185, Simsbury Road Bloomfield, CT Phone: 860-566-2304

Most of this 800-acre park’s hiking trails begin and end at the main picnic site. Trails are color-coded loops, with the exception of the Nature Trail, which encircles Lake Louise and passes by the scenic pinnacle overlook. Year-round chances to see wildlife such as birds and wildflowers.

Roaring Brook Nature Center Roaring Brook Nature Center

70 Gracey Road Canton, CT Phone: 860-693-0263

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.
Information: www.roaringbrook.org/events/trails.html#Trails

Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area

Route 69 Burlington, CT Phone: 860-675-8130

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.
Information: http://1.usa.gov/Yy9JxS

Talcott Mountain State Park Talcott Mountain State Park Simsbury CT

Route 185 Simsbury, CT Phone: 860-242-1158

Heulbein Tower is popular for hiking, picnicking

The Tower Trail is one-and-a-quarter miles long, and will lead you on a 30-40 minute walk to Heublein Towerand breathtaking views of the landscape, including Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire and the mountains of the Berkshires in Massachusetts. A section of the Metacomet Trail also intersects the park. See Talcott Mountain State Park for full description of this park.

Tunxis Trail

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 & Peoples State Forests Peoples State Forest

Between Center Hill Road (Route 181) and East River Road [see map] Barkhamsted, CT Phone: 860-379-0922

Large forests offer all outdoor recreation: camping, water sports, extensive hiking trails

These two adjacent state forests have extensive hiking trails, from easy to difficult. they include: Henry Buck Trail (blue blazed; 0.3 mile; overlook from high cliffs); Turkey Vultures Ledges Trail (blue; easy hike to scenic views; 0.4 mile); Agnes Bowen Trail (orange; a ski trail from the 1930; 2.5 miles); Charles Pack Trail (yellow; 1.9 miles); Elliot Bronson Trail (red; a rugged climb over Ragged Mountain; 1.5 miles); Jessie Gerard Trail (yellow; passes an old Indian settlement, a lighthouse, 299 stone steps; some of the best views in the state; Robert Ross Trail (blue; 2 miles); Walt Landgraf (red; leads to an area of rock ledges known as the Indian Caves; 0.2 miles).
Hiking map for American Legion and Peoples State Forests.
See full description of American Legion and Peoples State forests

Bear Mountain Bear Mountain

Route 41 three miles north of Salisbury Salisbury, CT

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 Covered Bridge River Walk

Bull's Bridge Road Kent, CT

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.
Information: http://bit.ly/12G3VC6

Burr Pond State Park

384 Burr Mountain Road Torrington, CT Phone: 860-482-1817

Pond has beach for swimming, canoe & kayak rentals, trails around the shoreline

As easy walking trail hugs the shoreline of this pretty pond, with a sandy beach and boating. See full description of Burr Pond State Park

Campbell Falls State Park

Route 272 to Campbell Falls Road Norfolk, CT

Campbell Falls State Park is a natural area with no facilities. Visitors enjoy the easy hike to a beautiful, small waterfall on Ginger Creek. Sweet spot for picnicking.
Hiking trails.

Flanders Nature Center

Flanders Road Woodbury, CT Phone: 203-263-3711

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.
Information: www.flandersnaturecenter.org/

H.C. Barnes Nature Center

175 Shrub Road Bristol, CT Phone: 860-589-6082

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.
Information: www.elcct.org/

Haystack Mountain

State Route 272 Norfolk, CT

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.

Hetzel Refuge

Breakneck Hill Middlebury, CT Phone: 203-263-3711

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.

Kent Falls State Park Kent Falls State Park

462 Kent Cornwall Road (Route 7) Kent, CT Phone: 860-927-3238

Cascading waterfall, covered bridge, hiking trails. Great for picnics, walking

this beautiful parrk focuses on waterfalls descending to the Housatonic River. There are many mapped trails all around the drainage area of the streams joining the waterfalls. Hiking map
See full description of Kent Falls State Park

Little-Laurel Lime Ridge Park Little-Laurel Lime Ridge Park

Tomlinson & Laurel Ridge roads Seymour, CT

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.

Mattatuck State Forest Mattatuck Forest

parts of Harwinton, Litchfield, Plymouth, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, CT Phone: 860-567-5694

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 Roxbury, CT

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.

Mount Tom State Park Mount Tom State Park Litchfield CT

Route 202 Litchfield, CT Phone: 860-567-8870

Water sports in the lake; hiking to tower at mountain top

In addition to water sports, this park is popular for hikes to the lookout tower on Mount Tom, which looms above the lake. The summit is 1325 feet above sea level, and the trail to the tower is less than one mile long and rises 500 feet.
See full description of Mount Tom State Park.

Naugatuck State Forest

[consult map] Cheshire/Hamden/Naugatuck/Oxford/Beacon Falls, CT

This state forest is completely undeveloped, and offers challenging hiking experiences for the non-beginner. Activities includes fishing on reservoirs, hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, target shooting, hunting.
Trail map

Peterson Park

123 Mad River Road Wolcott, CT Phone: 203-879-8100

This park is home to the beginning of the Mattuck Trail, a 35-mile hike that wends its way up to Mohawk Mountain, in the Litchfield Hills. Peterson Park offers basketball, tennis, volleyball, roller blading, skate park, play areas, and paved walking trails. There is a large picnic grove with many tables and two pavilions.

Saugatuck Reservoir Trails

Route 53 Redding, CT Phone: 203-452-3511

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.
Information: http://bit.ly/12ENfyP

Sharon Audubon Center Sharon Audubon Center Sharon CT

325 Cornwall Bridge Road / Route 4 Sharon, CT 06069 Phone: 860-364-0520

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
Information: http://sharon.audubon.org/

Squantz Pond State Park Squantz Pond State Park

178 Shortwoods Road New Fairfield, CT 06810 Phone: 203-312-5023

Pond is centerpiece of wooded park with beach, swimming, boating, hiking trails, ice skating, cross country skiing

There are plenty of nice, wooded, and well-mapped hiking paths in the woods and hills about the lake at this park for walkers and hiker of all abilities. Hiking map.
See full description of Squanz State Park

Walking Tour of Plymouth Center

Begins the Town Green, 10 Park Street Plymouth, CT Phone: 860-585-4001

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.
Information: www.plymouthct.us

White Memorial Conservation Center and Museum White Memorial Conservation Center and Museum

Route 202 Litchfield, CT Phone: 860-567-0857

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
Information: www.whitememorialcc.org/

Woodcock Nature Center

56 Deer Run Road Ridgefield, CT Phone: 203-762-7280

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.
Admission: Free.
Information: woodcocknaturecenter.org.

Barn Island State Wildlife Management Area Barn Island State Wildlife Management Area Stonington CT

Palmer Neck Road Pawcatuck, CT

This wildlife management area displays the varied and beauty of coastal Connecticut. It has four miles of trails for walking and hiking, to enjoy bird watching and wildlife. Hikers should be aware of the presence of deer hunters in hunting season.
See full description of Barn Island Wildlife Management Area.

Bigelow Hollow State Park & Nipmuck State Forest Bigelow Hollow State Park & Nipmuck State Forest Union CT

Route 171 Union, CT

Large forested park with lots of hiking trails; water sports at one lake and 3 ponds

This 9,000-acre combine state park and state forest have an extensive trail system, with marked trails from Bigelow Hollow to the Breakneck area for a distance of six miles. Trails west of the park road both form loops and are shorter than trails to Breakneck. The trail system is maintained by a href="http://www.ctwoodlands.org/" target="_blank"> Connecticut Forest and Park Association. The trails are usable for cross country skiing and snowmobiling when there is snow cover.
Hiking map
See full description of Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck State Forest.

Bluff Point Coastal Reserve Bluff Point Coastal Reserve / Bluff Point State Park Groton CT

Depot Road, off US Route 1 Groton, CT Phone: 860-444-7591

Walking in wooded peninsula and along rocky coast; seabird watching; shell fishing allowed

Bluff Point Coastal Reserve offers beautiful walks through a wooded peninsula and along a rocky coastline. Fun for bird watching. Park map.
See full description of Bluff Point Coastal Reserve.

Center at Pomfret (Audubon Bird Conservation area) Pomfret Farms

218 Day Road Pomfret Center, CT Phone: 860-928-4948

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
Information: www.ctaudubon.org/center-at-pomfret/

Dennis Farm Dennis Farm

Dennis Road Pomfret, CT Phone: 203-568-6270

Dennis Farm Dennis Road Pomfret, CT 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.
Information: http://bit.ly/XjksXI

Essex Village

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.

James L. Goodwin Forest James L. Goodwin Forest

off of Route 6 at 23 Potter Road Hampton, CT

Great for hiking on short or long trails; enjoying nature; a boat ramp is available

This state forest has a very extensive trail system for walking, bicycling, horseback riding, and enjoying nature. Trail range from short and easy to long. Some have printed brochures with information on the plant life of the area.
See full description of James L. Goodwin Forest.

Mashamoquet Brook State Park Mashamoquet Brook State Park Pomfret Center CT

147 Wolf Den Drive Pomfret Center, CT Phone: 860-928-6121

Good park for camping, swimming, boating, hiking; cool rock formations to explore

There is plenty of hiking in the woods at this popular state park.
Hiking map.
See full description of Mashamoquet State Park.

Moosup Valley State Park Trail Moosup Valley State Park Trail

Main Street Moosup, CT

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.
Information: http://bit.ly/WpYiY5

Mountain Laurel Sanctuary in Nipmuck State Forest Laurel Sanctuary

Near intersection of routes 89 and 190 Union, CT Phone: 860-424-3200

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.
Information: http://1.usa.gov/WOvapY

Quinebaug River Trail Quinebaug's 5 Mile 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.
Information: http://bit.ly/WpYiY5

Rock Spring Wildlife Refuge / Preserve Rock Spring Wildlife Refuge

Pudding Hill Road (Route 97) three miles south of Route 6 Scotland, CT Phone: 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.
Information: http://bit.ly/VFjVVR

Shelter Falls Park Shelter Falls Park

Birch Road Mansfield, CT

Small park near UConn; nice for quiet walks and picnicking near brook and waterfall

Nice walks along a brook to a lovely waterfall are found at this small public park, only a short distance from the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Trail guide.
See full description of Shelter Falls Park.

Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center Ansonia CT

10 Deerfield Lane Ansonia, CT 06401 Phone: 203-736-1053

This park has 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 plants and animals.
Hours: Daily sunup to sundown; interpretive center open 9 a.m. t o 5 p.m. daily except on major holidays.
Admission: Free.
Information: ansonianaturecenter.org

Edgewood Park Edgewood Park

Edgewood Avenue New Haven, CT Phone: 203-946-8028

Lovely urban park; good for strolling, tennis, skateboarding, bird watching, relaxation

Lovely city park has many winding paths for strolling among plantings and ponds, watching bird life, and enjoying a restful urban atmosphere. See full description of Edgewood Park.

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
Information: http://www.newenglandtrail.org/

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
Admission: Free.
Information: http://bit.ly/10zm5DQ

Walking Tours of Art at Yale University

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.