Acres of parkland make this historic town a must for outdoor-lovers of all ages
When visitors say historic Wethersfield is a breath of fresh air, they may well be referring to its more than 644 acres of scenic parkland. Start with Mills Wood Park, with its beach, outdoor swimming pond, picnic areas, off-leash dog park, bocce and basketball courts, soccer fields, lighted tennis courts, ice skating, fishing pond, skate park and (whew!) walking trails. Then there’s Mikey’s Place, a wheelchair-friendly community playground with accessible playscape for kids 2 to 12. Open-air activities in Wethersfield range from visiting with live animals in a nature center to bird-watching or biking and hiking its miles and miles of trails in meadows, forests and wetlands. Check the website for a series of brisk winter walks through Feb. 5.
67 River Road, off Route 82East Haddam, CT, 06423Phone: 860-526-2336
One of the most remarkable parks in the state, Gillette Castle State Park features a mansion built in 1919 for actor William Gillette, who was famous for his role as Sherlock Holmes. The park is set on the Connecticut River and features fishing areas, short hiking trails and picnic spots. - Hiking Map Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day, Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The grounds are open year round. Tours of the castle are offered; call for schedule. Admission: There are no fees for parking or visiting the park grounds. A per person charge applies for Castle tours.
149 Farms Village Road (Route 309)Simsbury, CTPhone: 860-242-1158
Wheelchair-accessible park has trout fishing, hiking, sports fields, swimming
Stratton Brook State Park is completely handicap-accessible. Enjoy biking, field sports, walking & hiking, picnicking, and swimming. There is a scenic bike trail through a pine forest and past bubbling brooks and streams. Amenities include restrooms, rentable picnic shelters, and picnic sites. Park map. Admission: CT residents, $9; non-residents, $15.
Season & Hours: Year-round, 8 a.m. - sunset
Popular hiking and camping area with scenic picnic spots and fresh-water fishing.
The centerpiece of this beautiful park is the 60-foot Chapman Falls. Activities include bicycling, birding, camping, hiking, picnicking, and stream fishing. You can horse around in the horseshoe pit, and picnic at any of five sites along Hopyard Road. Also, Devil's Hopyard Campground offers 21 sites in a wooded setting. Camping is available from mid-April through September 30. Facilities include grills, picnic shelters, picnic tables, composting toilets. Free parking; nightly camping fee.
The main attraction of Talcott Mountain State Park is 165-foot high Heublein Tower, a scenic historical landmark which offers hikers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, as far as Long Island Sound. Discover the region’s wildlife including deer, fox, rabbits, and birds. Amenities include picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and a picnic shelter. Free parking.
Seasonal Tours: Thursday - Sunday 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Season & Hours: 8 a.m.-sunset; Tower is open late May-Labor Day, Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Labor Day-October 31, open six days a week, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hubbard Park has 1,800 acres of parkland ]for year-round use. The park includes the East/West Peak, also known as Hanging Hills of Meriden. It is part of the Metacomet Ridge. The park includes woodland, lake and stream, flower gardens, and picnic areas, and Mirror Lake.
Activities: Hiking and biking are permitted. Fishing is allowed in Mirror Lake for youth age 15 and younger. Picnic tables are available. Swimming, rock climbing, and boating are prohibited.
Directions and Parking: Take I-91 South to I-691 West to the exit for Southington/Route 322. At the exit off ramp, turn left onto West Main Street. Hubbard Park is a mile down the road on the left. Parking is at the park at the start of the trail head adjacent to Mirror Lake.