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Connecticut trail guide, Spring 2012

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Time for that spring hike, you know the one you should do every year! That awe inspiring adventure you can tell your friends about and share a journey with. Make this spring a start to a new beginning; one shared with family and friends. Fill it with excitement and discovery.

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Let your mind roam, rest your weary soul and clear your thoughts from work, Relax every free weekend by investing some time into traveling just one or two of these trails a month. It does not take much to be adventurous and at the same time get healthy.

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This “Examiner’s Trail Guide” will never be a truly complete trail guide of Connecticut. Now with nine new trails added to the list for you to discover, isn‘t it about time you took a hike this spring. Thank you for reading and supporting this Examiner’s efforts to bring attention to many of the interesting hiking spots in Connecticut.

Bookmark this 2012 Spring Trail Guide for easy access.

 

Air Line State Park Trail and Lyman viaduct, Colchester and East Hampton, CT. It's unique in its outstanding views, and any portion of this 50-mile trail can be an exhilarating one! Off Route 2, Exit 16 on 149 and River Road. Join the hundreds of people on this trail at any time on a beautiful weekend day. Most people with bicycles start at the parking area directly near Route 2, here you can safely cross under Route 2 to head toward Hebron, and its swamp and marshland or ride toward E. Hampton, through the Colchester portion.

Belding Wildlife Management Area and Belding Preserve, Vernon, CT. It's has fairy tale like setting with Norway Spruce rising high above you; truly unique compared to any park we reviewed! It's dense forest of "Tar Pines and Spruce trees, will astound you invoking memories of childhood stories. Be sure to take your time strolling through the back pathways and loop the river that runs through it.

Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck Forest, Union CT can be found at the end of the state's loneliest highway, I-84. Devoid of people from the fall through to spring; you will find yourself alone most of the time. Of course the occasional hiker, or boater will disturb your peace and soon disappear again. Bring lunch stay all day here for free. Best hike for large families in Connecticut with ample places to roam, picnic and have fun.

Blackledge Falls, Glastonbury CT is more than just a short stop on Rte 94; this parking lot is always filled and most people enjoy the short hike along the a blue blazed trail and of course there is the incredible waterfalls.

Bluff Point, Groton CT. Where else in Connecticut, can you take pictures of three different harbor light houses just from one spot. Connecticut's last undeveloped glacial rock filled coastal peninsula, Bluff Point, Groton CT.

Bolton Lakes Dam, Bolton CT This is a nice refreshing stop with just a short walk down a grassy road between to mountain tops. Then you enter the incredible lake area! Standing on this little known lake spot, surrounded by water in the middle of Bolton’s Two biggest lakes; you can feel the sense of harmony you get! Being out on the lake even in winter its thrilling. Come fishing season the anglers are abundant out here.

Castle Craig, and Hubbard Park Meriden CT, nothing like an adventure you say. Try hiking to Castle Craig Tower on the Hanging Hills of Meriden. Yes its a real mountain 970+ feet high, may not seem like much but this a real workout! This hike has view an outstanding sunrise and sunset with views of Sleepy Giant and the Lower Connecticut Valley area. this is possible one of the most beautiful city parks in all of Connecticut.

Campbell Falls State Park, Norfolk CT. Enchanting, inviting and surreal. Massive Norway spruce dotted with maple bring this place to life. Seems like a fairy tale or a park in a distant European country you briefly saw on television. Come here as this place will enlighten you and thrill you. Don't take my word for it, come here yourself; it's open all year.

Case Mountain Park, Manchester CT, has Lookout Mountain with its vast view of the Connecticut Valley. An easy walk up the hill can be had through the forest along the back of the mountain, connect via the waterfall above the parking lot. If you hike the main emergency road expect a definite workout and you will notice the burn in your muscles afterward. So try the back way for one of best the hiking mountains in the Hartford area.

Crandall Park, Tolland CT is bigger than it looks on a map, sure it has a few baseball fields, and recreational plays areas. But it also boast a Lodge, two ponds and a fully paved ADA trail system, one that links the middle and to all the parking areas and at least six marked trails. These trails may vary in length but one thing for sure, you cannot get easily lost out on them, as they are well planned and thoroughly thought out!

Farmington River Rail Trail, Burlington CT is a great place to catch some hiking time away from it all. Catch the fall foliage and color changes along the river. While you venture with your friend's and family up along this fascinating trail that leads to the massive mill and dam at the end. Enjoy the river; but watch out it runs very fast here.

Fox Hill Tower, and the trails of Vernon, CT are popular spots for viewing of the Connecticut Fall foliage. You can see the leaves change to beautiful hues of golden fall colors. This is accessible all year round and really worth the trip. An easy drive to the tower parking area will be delight for the handicapped as well as the able-bodied. Take your whole family, young and old to visit this peaceful little park overlooking Rockville.

Freja Park & Bolton Notch, Bolton CT, is more than just a cliff face with its vast valley of maple and oak, mixed with pine. Try parking at Bolton Pond and start one of many adventures from here. The Rail trail starts here, the pond is great for fishing, the valley awaits you or climb any one of the cliffs; there is more than one way up to the top here.

Haystack Mountain Tower, Norfolk CT can take your breath away. Nestled in the hills of Western Connecticut, this beautiful tower is worth the steep climb up the steep hill, and the walk up this 37 foot tall stone tower is exhilarating. Just be sure to bring your camera with you, because it will be surely something you will enjoy sharing with others.

Heritage Farm and the Rose Trail, Bolton CT. Signs warn you this is an archaeological treasure area, do not take anything out of here. Two hundred plus years ago, French Troops encamped here, and now this graceful field is full of life again where a weary trail walker rest upon its various benches that dot this really nice place.

Heublein Mountain, Talcott Mountain State Park, Bloomfield and Simsbury CT, offers more than just spectacular views, it offers you a chance at bird watching of an extraordinary variety. Sure there are turkey buzzards, there are hawks, and black ravens. But "Eagles" have been known to appear along the cliff face and that my friends is extra cool and worth the trip no matter what time of the year.

Hockanum River Trails, Ellington, CT. Hockanum river borders this great hiking trail system in Ellington, CT. The river is named after “Hocquaun” a native American word for bent river.

Hop River Rail Trail, Columbia to Bolton, CT Notice all the cars in the lots but no people. They're either fishing or out riding their bicycles. If your running, walking or riding this section of the trail in Columbia, watch out for horses. This is favorite place for the local horse ranches, because of the soft red dirt, that covers the old railroad stone.

Hop River Rail Trail, Vernon Rail to Trails: Tunnel Road to Bolton Notch Not only does this feature a great tunnel to cross over, but the view is fantastic along all sections of this old railroad bed. Its elevation will surprise most everyone as this section sits high above houses on one side and valley on the other. Very unique place to hike, ride and run.

Hop River Rail to Trail: Route 316 to Willimantic not your ordinary place to roam, mostly free of traffic until fishing season begins. Then you will have a tough time even parking here on a weekend, but once you got a spot there is plenty of open trail and shade river spots awaiting you.

Hop River Rail to Trail: Vernon Section an elevated section of an old rail bed. This section has a storied history with educational features that remind all of us of the importance the rail system was in the creation of this great country. With its hidden trail to a waterfall visited by many for hundreds of years, this section should be visited at least once by all.

Laurel Marsh Trail, Manchester CT This place offers more than you might think, with its long walk along the marshland of the Hockanum river. This trail has several bridges and one that in particular that is so cool. Sure it may not have been constructed with this look in mind but it’s appears that after it sank in some spots they just kept on building this oddly shaped crooked bridge. This place is also well know for it bird habitat and the flocks that arrive here every spring as they make their way north.

Mansfield Hollow State Park and the Mansfield Hollow Dam, Mansfield CT, perhaps an under rated marvel of engineering, it’s very presence saves countless lives and spares property down river from tremendous spring floods that occur through out Connecticut. Its sheer size and impressive composure is another one of Connecticut’s hidden Jewels.

Manchester Drive-In and the Shenipsit Trail, Bolton CT Long forgotten this relic of the past. The many who once passed through these gates remember the fun and excitement of this fabulous drive-in. A relic of the past and now it has been overtaken by the plants and trees. Never to show another film again and now a unique starting point for the Shenipsit Trail on this side of I-384.

Ravine trail, Talcottville, CT The foundations of the old mill buildings that once stood here are now gone. This place is unique and few people walk here. You may find this little trail off the highway pretty exciting if you are the adventurous type and don't mind a little traffic noise. Ravine trail is hidden along the I-84 in Talcottville, CT.

River Highlands State Park, Cromwell CT Where a walk to the low bluffs and high 150 foot bluffs can bring you to the outstanding views of the Connecticut river. This wondrous place has a mystery surrounding it's famous blow hole; that Native Americans claimed the "wind was caught by spirit of the earth" which then made a tremendous noise as it rushed the canyon created by the river.

Risley Reservoir, Vernon CT Just on the Manchester line. What sets this little hiking gem apart from the rest, is it boast one popular ice skating and ice fishing spot. But just beyond the reservoir of this gem, is a heart pounding hiking trip to the top of the mountain and the hills and the valleys beyond. The blue trail takes you all the way through to Bolton’s Freja Park.

Rocky Glen State Park and Al's Trail in Newtown CT That's right a real person created this unique and impossible trail. You should be warned that only mountain goats can pass the trail as it bends along a series of unique cliffs and hundred foot tall trees, that hold the face of this massive cliff together.

Rocky Neck State Park State Park, East Lyme CT Well known for its protected crescent shaped beach front and family friendly summer playground. But it also has a fantastic seas side walking path through the marshland that is part of this seaside camping park, one of Connecticut’s crown Jewels.

Scantic River Linear Park, Scitico CT A nice big park hidden off of Route 190 in northern Connecticut. Worth the stop and fishing is very popular here. Try this place during any season and enjoy the well kept trails. Two unique trails run along the river front make for a great day out.

Shenipsit Trail, Connecticut The Shenipsit trail has 40 miles of trails strung together and is surely one of the longest trail’s in Connecticut. A “Blue-blazed trail system starting just outside of Portland CT ending in Somers CT

Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden CT has an easy way to get to the top, above the trees, with a wide path all the way to a huge castle like tower. There are many places to gather here and spend the afternoon viewing the distant city of New Haven or just walking the many pathways across this mountain.

Soapstone Mountain, Somers CT is an ideal place far from the highways and right on the northern edge of Connecticut River Valley. It also perfect for leaf viewing with an very easy climb to the tower from the upper parking lot. Many have heard of this mountain top, but few have ever visited. Try coming here anytime before winter begins and experience it for yourself.

 

Tolland Conservation areas this is a great start for Tolland County residents to get out and explore there own back yard. This is a growing list and new places will reviewed and immediately added.

Campbell's Peaceful Valley ConservationArea, Tolland CT Beautiful sunsets can be seen from the bluff that is only a short hike from the parking area. A unique cedar bridge along the edge of a cliff adds to the uniqueness of the trail up this mountain.

King Conservation Area, Tolland CT Nice trail for year round hiking and excellent spot for fishing. Fishing from here is easy and you can wade right into the water and stand on shaded shorelines of the Willimantic river.

Palmer Kendall Mountain Conservation Area, Tolland CT Strange feelings may overcome you when you visit this mountain. A dangerous cliff awaits you when you reach Kendall Mountain’s peak, and on the opposite side a knoll named “the Knob“ that has a stone table and seats, will make you believe this is truly a strange place.

Shafran Conservation Area: Tolland CT over a mile of walking on a nice figure eight trail with a beautiful stream and a nice pine forest to stroll through.

Stoppleworth Conservation Area, Tolland CT another interesting hiking spot with a few points of interest, not a big tourist stop but the place does have few interesting places and a short cut to Campbell’s Peaceful Valley.

 

Union Pond and the Hockanum River Trail, Manchester CT. This trail can even reach Vernon's Golf Land amusement center, where the Hockanum river race starts in Spring. Great place for an adventure and photos. You can hike below the falls of Union Pond Dam where a massive pipe once harnessed the water for a mill. Or walk along the section near the highway or behind the Silk Worms Baseball team home field along Union Pond.

Valley Falls Park, Vernon, CT The Valley below Webster Preserve is a decent place for the family to hike together, with gradual and level trails outstanding wildlife and interesting view.

Webster Preserve, Vernon, CT is an ideal hike to get your heart rate cranking. That pace is all yours but this one mile ascent has become annual right of spring around here for many hikers.

Wickham Park East Hartford, CT is a great spot to view the Connecticut Valley, but also one where the park's forest is so diverse and the plant life so vast that you will find something unique every time you come here.

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