June 07, 2009

Outdoors in Connecticut

The Hartford Courant today has a list of State Parks divided by region of the state (none is very far from anywhere in the state!) in the paper and online. The information here is condensed from its review.
[ State's Parks An Alternative To Adventures Afar ]


Lake Waramaug State Park, Kent

The 98-acre park has a clear lake with a small sandy beach suitable for young children. There are outdoor grills available for visitors, including non-campers. The 77-site campground provides affordable lodging in an area of upscale bed and breakfasts, wineries and farmland.
  • Cost: Seasonal parking fees are $7 weekends, no charge weekdays
  • Phone number: 860-868-2592 (maintenance office); 860-868-0220 (camping)
  • Mount Tom State Park, Litchfield

    Swim in the 60-acre Mount Tom Pond, gather for picnics, fish and hike. Pets allowed in picnic areas and on trails but not on the beach.
  • Cost: Seasonal parking fees are $7 weekends, $5 weekdays
  • Phone number: 860-424-3200
  • Central

    Devil's Hopyard, East Haddam

    The Eight Mile River plunges 60 feet in a wooded area at Chapman Falls. The site gets its name from the deep, round potholes up to 6 feet in diameter. There is hiking around Mitchell Pond, fishing at Deep Hole and camping at the 22-site campground. The park is good for bird-watching.
  • Cost: No parking fees.
  • Phone number: 860-873-8566
  • Gillette Castle, East Haddam

    Perched along the Connecticut River on a hill known as the Seventh Sister, Gillette Castle, built between 1914 and 1919, has unusual stonework, secret passages and tales of actor William Gillette, who played the part of Sherlock Holmes 1,300 times over 33 years. Much of the woodwork was fashioned by boat-builders, who designed unusual locks and latches.
  • Cost: Castle tours (Memorial Day to Columbus Day) are $5 for ages 13 and older; $2 ages 6 to 12.
  • Phone number: 860-526-2336
  • East

    Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme

    The 710-acre park is fine for swimming or a hike. See Tony's Nose, a rocky ledge overlooking the Fourmile River. Rocky Neck was a popular fishing spot for Colonists and Indians; today families enjoy fishing on the big stone pier.
  • Cost: Seasonal parking fees are $10 weekends; $5 after 4 p.m.; $7 weekdays; $5 after 4 p.m.
  • Phone number: 860-739-5471
  • Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford

    The 230-acre park on Long Island Sound includes a 42-room Italianate mansion, Eolia and gardens designed by Beatrix Farrand. The estate has abundant grassy acres overlooking the ocean and gorgeous gardens.
  • Cost: Seasonal parking fees are $7 weekends, $5 after 4 p.m.; $5 weekdays
  • Phone number: 860-443-5725

  • You can borrow a state parks pass from the main branch of your local library. Parking fees are waived when you use the pass.

    WalkCT Family Rambles

    Take a Hike

    The Connecticut Forest and Park Association lists Family Rambles (short, easy hikes suitable for non-athletic hikers) on their website. These have guides to assist the inexperienced walker.

    Take a break from the daily grind and join us for a refreshing adventure. WalkCT Family Rambles bring families, fun, and the outdoors together. Led by trained WalkCT Family Guides, these engaging outings are offered at trails around the state on the last weekend of every month, January through December. Because these adventures are geared specifically for families, kids and their caregivers will delight in this outdoor quest for fun together.
    For instance there's a bird-watching hike in Hebron that aims at folks not accustomed to bird watching (and it helps to start with a guide rather than a guidebook)

    In addition, there is a listing of other walking routes to follow on your own or with a few friends or family members.