May 29, 2014
08:44 AM
The Connecticut Story

Connecticut Trails Day Weekend Promises More Than 250 Statewide Hikes, Walks and Activities

Connecticut Trails Day Weekend Promises More Than 250 Statewide Hikes, Walks and Activities

Courtesy of Heather Allore

Hiking along Guilford's East River woodlands.

The Connecticut Forest and Park Association is celebrating Connecticut Trails Day Weekend this year on June 7 and 8 with more than 250 events across the state, including guided hikes, paddle and bike tours, nature walks, rock climbing, geocaching and trail maintenance activities. Parking fees at participating state parks and forests—celebrating the 100th anniversary of the system's creation this year—will also be waived to help get people out to explore and enjoy the natural resources Connecticut has to offer.

The Connecticut Trails Day Weekend guide has a full listing of activities, which range from easy (mostly level/calm terrain with few, if any, obstacles) to moderate (gently rising/temperate terrain with occasional obstacles) to challenging (steep/choppy terrain with periodic obstacles). Events are designed to appeal to everyone from athletic outdoorsy types and casual nature lovers to wildlife enthusiasts and history buffs. Some activities are also pet friendly and wheelchair accessible.

Check out our "Best of Connecticut State Parks and Forests"

More of what Connecticut's state parks have to offer

One of the biggest events will be the official dedication of the Southern Gateway of Connecticut's section of the New England Trail (NET), one of the 11 designated National Scenic Trails throughout the United States. The NET stretches 215 miles north from Chittenden Park on Long Island Sound in Guilford, up through the heart of Connecticut and all the way to the Masschusetts-New Hampshire border. Sponsored by the CFPA and scheduled to run from 4 to 7:30 p.m., the festivities will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as speeches, food and a performance by local bluegrass band The Rosenthals.

Back in 2011, we published a story on the opening of the NET by Cindy Ross, who has done a fair amount of hiking in the Connecticut.

From that article:

The NET is largely made up of three existing trails—the Mattabesett and Metacomet in Connecticut, and the Monadnock in Massachusetts—so much of the route has been in place for half a century or longer. The NET is easily accessible to nearly 2 million people who live within 10 miles of it, and is truly a “community trail,” running through 39 towns on its way from just north of Long Island Sound in Guilford (a final spur to the shore has not yet been completed) to the New Hampshire line. Along with the CFPA’s work along the Connecticut stretch, the trail is maintained by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) in Massachusetts. Currently, there are 18 volunteer trail managers in Connecticut who blaze and clear the trail, build bridges and control erosion.

The NET features traprock ridges, forests, fields and a variety of other natural features. It's also not the only officially recognized trail in the state—in addition to the section of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the northwest corner of the state (Sherman to Salisbury), the state has four National Recreation Trails: Air Line State Park Trail (South), Quinebaug River Water Trail, Sleeping Giant Trail System and Willimantic River Water Trail. For history fans, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route across the state is a National Historic Trail. And all that is in addition to the state's fine Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System, which includes 825 miles of trails.

With 139 state parks and forests in Connecticut—in addition to dozens of municipally and privately operated recreational areas—there is an abundance of terrain available for public exploration during Trails Day Weekend.

Among a small fraction of the highlights:

• Saturday, June 7, 9 a.m.: A two-mile educational walk through Bolton Heritage Farm and Hop River State Park to explore the best-preserved Connecticut Revolutionary War campsite on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route.

• Saturday, June 7, 10 a.m.: Two fun family-friendly hikes at Danbury's Bear Mountain Reservation: An "I Spy Scavenger Hunt" for kids over 6 to discover facts about nature; and a 1.5-mile "Book Walk" for younger children.

• Saturday, June 7, 10 a.m.: Join the Lower CT River Valley Horseman's Club for a 10-mile trail-clearing ride at Cockaponset State Forest followed by a picnic lunch. Pre-registration required and BYOH (Bring Your Own Horse).

• Saturday, June 7, 10:15 a.m.: See New Haven from the top of West Rock and visit the historic Judge's Cave with a hike through West Rock Ridge State Park and the Regicides Trail organized by Common Ground High School.

• Sunday, June 8, 8 a.m.: It's modern-day hide-and-seek at Northwest Park in Windsor and a day of geocaching with the Connecticut Caching Community.

• Sunday, June 8, 9 a.m.: Starting in Meriden, hike 11 miles of the Metacomet Trail—part of the NET—that including visits to Castle Craig and West Peak. Sponsored by CFPA.

• Sunday, June 9, 10 a.m.: The 2nd annual "Paddle Pedal Picnic" at the Quinebaug River and Canterbury Bike Route includes 6 miles of paddling on the river and 20 miles of biking through Canterbury. Sponsored by the Canterbury Economic Development Commission.

More information on these and scores of great activities at


Connecticut Trails Day Weekend Promises More Than 250 Statewide Hikes, Walks and Activities

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