This weekend, Connecticut celebrates the 22nd annual Connecticut Trails Day Weekend, as part of National Trails Day. With over 258 events statewide, the celebration has something for everyone, including the historically-minded. The state’s rich history will be reflected in a number of events, ranging from Revolutionary French encampments to Native American fishing grounds. Here is a list of the 10 historical hikes to check out as you hit the trails.
Saturday, June 7, 9.00-11.00 – Bolton – Bolton Heritage Farm and Hop River State Park
Conservation Commission Chairman Rod Parlee, nationally recognized Arborist Matt Largess, Town Historian Hans DePold, and historic descendant Eric Rochambeau will lead a 2-mile hike that will concentrate on the historic significance of the farm, which during the Revolutionary War served as a campsite for thousands of French troops and followers, as well as four additional continental units. Recognized as perhaps the most well preserved Revolutionary War campsite in the state, the farm is a part of the Washington-Rochambeau-Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. Pre-Registration is not necessary. Hikers will meet at Bolton Heritage Farm, 266 Bolton Center Road.
Saturday, June 7, 6:00-8:30 p.m. – Bolton – Notch State Park, Freja Park, and East Coast Greenway
Conservation Commission Chairman Rod Parlee, and Town Historian Hans DePold will be back to lead this 4-mile hike which will highlight the natural features of the Bolton Notch watershed. Hikers will learn about the deep historical and mythical roots of the route, from the tale of the legendary Dutchman Peter Hager and his Native American princess Wunnee, who purportedly lived in Squaq Cave, to scenes of military campgrounds during the American Revolution. Pre-Registration is not necessary. Hikers will meet at the Bolton Notch Pond Boat Launch and East Coast Greenway parking lot on Route 44.
Saturday, June 7, 11:00-12:00 p.m. – East Hartford – Bicentennial Square to the Hockanum River
Craig Johnson leads this informative walk on which participants will learn of the historical significance of the route, which include a site on which General Rochambeau’s French troops were camped during the Revolutionary War, as well as the Hockanum River falls, where the earliest industry east of the Connecticut River was started during the 1640’s. Pre-Registration is not necessary. Walkers will meet at Bicentennial Square on Forbes Street.
Saturday, June 7, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Enfield – Scantic River State Park
Patrick Sharron will lead hikers along the cascading rapids of Enfield’s Scantic River State Park, where they will explore the remains of Colonel Augustus Hazard’s gunpowder company, which rose to prominence during the mid-19th-century. Participants may arrive at 9:30 if they would like to view a display of artifacts from the Hazard Gunpowder Company. Pre-Registration is not necessary. Hikers will meet at the Powder Hollow Red Barn at 32 South Maple Street.
Saturday, June 7, 1:00-2:30 p.m. – Hartford – Butler-McCook House & Garden and Bushnell Park
Stroll along historic Main Street to Bushnell Park, while learning about the rich history of the city of Hartford that led to its creation. Upon reaching Bushnell Park, participants will hear the stories behind some of its iconic elements, like the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Arch, the Carousel, and the statuary of some of the city’s and state’s famous people. Pre-registration is recommended (Contact Jackie McKinney, by phone (860)-247-8996 or by email) Walkers will meet at the Butler-McCook House & Garden.
Saturday, June 7, 1:00-2:30 p.m. – Hartford – Cedar Hill Cemetery
Tree experts Ed Richardson and John Kehoe will lead this 2-mile walk featuring a variety of rare and notable trees. The tour, through the ornamental foreground and historic memorial sections, will highlight trees such as the European weeping beech, umbrella magnolia, and the hemlock. Pre-registration is not necessary. Walkers will meet near the bridge located at the cemetery’s entrance.
Saturday, June 7, 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. – Portland – Palmer Preserve
John LeShane of the Middlesex Land Trust will lead this 4-mile hike, through a diverse natural setting that includes rolling fields, woodlands, streams, and a dramatic waterfall. Hikers will also get a glimpse into the past as they visit the intact remains of old mills that were once prominent in the area, and the historic Air Line Railroad bed. Hikers are requested to bring a lunch and beverage for a picnic along the way. Pre-registration is recommended (Contact John, by phone (860)-342-0658 or by email). Walkers will meet at the Palmer Barn located on the Middlesex Land Trust Preserve at 258 Middle Haddam Rd.
Saturday, June 7, 1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. – Rocky Hill – Dinosaur State Park/Red Trail
Dinosaur State Park’s Margaret Enkler will lead this 1 mile hike, focusing on Connecticut’s unique geologic history with special emphasis on how the dinosaur tracks were formed and preserved. Participants will be invited to take part in an outdoor scavenger hunt as part of the adventure. Pre-registration is not necessary. Hikers will meet on the red benches outside the museum entrance (400 West Street)
Saturday, June 7, 8.00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. – Scotland – Colonial Statesman’s Farmstead Trail
Enjoy a self-guided letterboxing adventure! Participants will follow clues at the Huntington Homestead from point to point to learn about former farm buildings and their uses, as well as some early laneway engineering. Additionally, the homestead will be open for tours from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., and will feature special exhibits on Declaration of Independence signer Samuel Huntington.
Sunday, June 8, 1:00-2:15 p.m. – Manchester – Center Springs Park
Manchester historian Susan Barlow and co-leader Cynthia Barlow will lead this 1.5 mile hike through the diverse natural environs of the 55-acre urban park in the geographical center of Manchester. The tour will highlight the history of the park, including a gorge and small waterfall that served as a popular Native American eel fishing site. Pre-registration is not necessary. Hikers will meet at 39 Lodge Drive.