East Coast US, New England, Travels

Exploring Connecticut’s State Parks (part II)

I’ve definitely complained to you guys before about how miserable and dark and cold winters are in Connecticut. Sometimes winter just holds on for so long and won’t go away. But sometimes, spring breaks through a bit earlier, gracing us with sunshine and warmer weather. This was the case in the spring of 2014, which paved the way for many weekend adventures.

I’ve written a previous post on Connecticut’s State Parks, and there will be a couple more coming up. Most of these parks aren’t very large so it makes the most sense to group a few together here.

So I present to you part 2 of what has now become my Connecticut State Parks series:

1. Wadsworth Falls State Park – Middlefield, CT
Clarence C. Wadsworth was a linguist and scholar who lived in Middletown, CT for many years and was instrumental in the preservation of Wadsworth Falls. Big Wadsworth Falls is located on the Coginchaug River that winds through the edge of the park, while Little Wadsworth Falls is on Wadsworth Brook, just upstream of its merging with the Coginchaug River. The entire area, as well as some of the surrounding forest, is now preserved.From the parking area, a trail stretches along the banks of the river, leading to the 2 beautiful waterfalls. As we hiked, we found ourselves surrounded by lush greenery and flowering mountain laurel, Connecticut’s state flower.

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Giant laurel tree – Wadsworth Falls State Park, CT
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Wadsworth Brook – Wadsworth Falls State Park, CT
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Little Wadsworth Falls – Wadsworth Falls State Park, CT
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Big Wadsworth Falls is a bit difficult to see from the trail, but quite a large volume of water tumbles over it – Wadsworth Falls State Park, CT

Fun fact: this is the first state park Pat and I ever visited together!

2. Enders State Forest – Granby, CT
Enders State Forest is located in north-central Connecticut, right next to the little notch in the state border that I’ve never understood. Like, why couldn’t Massachusetts just give Connecticut that little piece of land?

Anyway, this state forest is most popular for its string of waterfalls located along a fairly short section of Enders Brook. We walked for probably less than a mile (~1 km) and were able to see multiple waterfalls. The last one is my personal favorite. I just love the haphazard yet geometric way the water falls over the rocks.

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Waterfall at Enders State Forest, CT

3. Campbell Falls State Park Reserve – Norfolk, CT
Located right on the Connecticut/Massachusetts border, this small state park protects the Whiting River, which tumbles approximately 100 feet (30 m) as it flows into Connecticut. A 0.5 mile (0.9 km) trail leads across the Massachusetts border to the roaring waters of Campbell Falls.

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Campbell Falls – Campbell Falls State Park Preserve, CT

4. Haystack Mountain State Park – Norfolk, CT
Haystack Mountain is located very close to Campbell Falls, and we easily combined the two into the same day trip. Inside this small park is Haystack Park Pond, various picnic areas, and an approximately 2 mile (3.2 km) loop trail to the top of Haystack Mountain.

As with most Connecticut mountains, the summit is not above tree level. However, a stone tower on the peak brings you up above the trees and provides a bit of a view. From this vantage point 1716 feet (523 m) above sea level, we could see into Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont.

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Tower on the summit – Haystack Mountain State Park, CT
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View from the summit – Haystack Mountain State Park, CT
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View from the summit – Haystack Mountain State Park, CT

5. Talcott Mountain State Park – Simsbury, CT
Talcott Mountain can be seen from miles away in any direction, marked by the distinctive Heublein (HIGH-bline) Tower. It’s 165 feet (50 m) tall and was the summer home of Gilbert Heublein, a local food manufacturer in the mid 1900s. Today, it’s the main attraction of Talcott Mountain State Park and is sometimes open for tours. I haven’t been inside, but Pat and I did climb to the summit of the mountain (2.5 miles/4 km round-trip). Even without climbing the tower, we were treated to some panoramic views of central Connecticut from the summit.

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View from the summit – Talcott Mountain State Park, CT
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View from the summit – Talcott Mountain State Park, CT
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View from the summit – Talcott Mountain State Park, CT
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Heublein Tower – Talcott Mountain State Park, CT

6. Penwood State Park – Bloomfield, CT
Penwood State Park is predominately a hiking park. It’s fairly primitive, which also means it’s much less crowded than the more popular and established parks. There are many miles of hiking trails here, though I’ve not taken any of them. Pat and I only stopped for a few minutes on our way home from Talcott Mountain, but it was long enough to gaze into the calm waters of Lake Louise and listen to the sounds of the wildlife emanating from the forests that surrounded us.

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Lake Louise – Penwood State Park, CT

Well, there you have it. Part 2 of what is shaping up to be quite a long series on the state parks of Connecticut. As it turns out, Pat and I have managed a pretty thorough exploration of his home state, so I’ll be interspersing some more state parks posts over the next few months.

Stay tuned!

6 thoughts on “Exploring Connecticut’s State Parks (part II)”

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