Stratton Brooks State Park (Simsbury, CT)

***WordPress ate my original post (either that or I goofed up).  So, I have reposted my blog post.  Thank you for reading!***

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: 149 Farms Village Road (Route 309), Simsbury, CT (25 minutes northwest of Hartford, CT)

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: On weekends and holidays, admission tot he park costs $9 for residents of Simsbury and $15 for non residents.  There is no charge during weekdays and during the off season.

Parking: There are a few parking areas with ample parking

Trail Size/Difficulty: The main hiking and biking trail is 1.2 miles round trip.  The trail is easy.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Stratton Brooks State Park

Map: Stratton Brooks State Park Map

Fitbit Stats: 2.52 miles, 5,105 steps, 468 calories burned

Highlights: trails, covered bridge, beach, lake, swimming, fishing, cycling trails

Tips:

  • admission to the park is free during the weekdays and after Labor Day (or at least it was free during my visit the week after Labor Day)
  • Stratton Brooks is considered the first “completely wheelchair accessible” park in Connecticut
  • The nature center is open on certain days (it was closed during my visit)

 

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There’s a reason why the Connecticut tourism website calls September the “second summer.”  With the last vestiges of summer lingering and the sparks of autumn blooming, this is perhaps the best time of the year to visit the parks and attractions of New England.

 

The trails at Stratton Brooks are easy and level with hardly any inclines.  The main trail goes past some residential homes.  So, it’s important to stay on the trail.

 

Brooks Stratton, originally called Massacoe State Forest, was originally used to demonstrate forest fire control adjacent to railroads. The railroad tracks have since been replaced by a biking and hiking trail.  White pines line the main hiking trail.

The covered bridge at the park was built in 1985, spans 45″.  It offers pretty views of Stratton Brook.

 

The beach at the park is a popular destination during hot summer days.  It has a decent sized beach area and enough room for everyone to splash around.

 

In 1996, this park became Connecticut’s first state park that is completely accessible by wheelchair.  But, I think some areas, such as the main hiking trail which can be rocky and the beach area, may be hard to maneuver around.

Besides hiking, cycling, running and swimming, the park also offers an area for fishing, trout is the main fish people catch.  During the winter ice fishing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and ice skating are popular activities at the park.   Besides the trout that swim in the pond, there are other inhabitants of the pond such as ducks and a few frogs.

 

There is lots of room for dogs to roam around and play.  I saw quite a few cute dogs during my visit at Stratton Brooks.

Adisson is a playful one and a half year old Terrier mix,

 

Juju (short for Jujube) is a Chihuahua mix.  Fun fact: Juju doesn’t care for other dogs but she likes cats and people!

 

Sage is a rescue dog.  His guardian wasn’t sure what his breed or age is.  But, he’s a sweetheart!

 

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Ender’s Falls (Granby, CT)

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Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: Rte 219, Granby, CT (about 25 mins northwest of Hartford, CT, 30 mins southwest of Springfield, MA)

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There is a large parking area for about a couple dozens cars next to the trail

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: Yes

Trail Size/Difficulty: .8 miles round trip, easy

Fitbit Stats: 5,848 steps, 2.41 miles, 668 calories burned

Website: Ender’s Falls

Highlights: waterfalls, scenic, flowers

Tips:

  • When entering the park, go to the left to see the waterfalls
  • Watch for and follow the pink tags on the trees to stay on the easiest, most traveled trail
  • the rocks by the waterfall can be slippery, especially in the morning or after a rainfall
  • the best times to visit is after a rainfall or in early spring when the snow and ice on the stream are melting
  • Fishing and swimming (more on this later) are allowed at the falls

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Part of the 2,000 acre Ender’s Fall State Forest, the waterfalls at Ender’s Falls is one of the most photographed and highly regarded waterfalls in all of Connecticut, if not New England.  Although I enjoyed the falls at Wadsworth Park, I think I would agree.

There are 5 waterfalls at Ender’s Falls.

The hardest part of photographing Ender’s Falls is finding the waterfalls.  Some are pretty easy to find, particularly the first one at the end of the entrance to the park.

However, due to how the sound travels and the lack of ability to view some of the stream from higher ground, it’s hard to determine what may be a gushing waterfall and what is just the sound of water running along the stream.

And, let’s talk about the paths to the stream.  Due to the steep decline of the terrain and the fact it had rained the previous day, it was no joke going down the side of the trail to get to the stream.  So, while the main trail on higher ground is easy with some moderate inclines and a few downed trees, if you choose to travel closer to the stream, it can be difficult.  In fact, I stumbled upon this news story about the dangers of the trails at the park.  But, I’m a trained professional.  So, I was alright.  Follow the pink tags to stay on the trail.

The rocks and trees by the waterfalls have some amusing, interesting and heartfelt graffiti on them.

The graffiti in the first photo (top left) on a rock high above the stream refers to track number 4 on the self titled “Third Eye Blind” cd.  I’ll let you Google that for a sec.  Even the casual Third Eye Blind Fan knows what the song is.  The second and third photos (going clockwise) include a phrase that refers to a TLC song.  You get it.

Ender’s Falls is a truly beautiful place, particularly with summer quietly coming to a close and fall starting to make an entrance.  There truly is nothing more beautiful in New England than the blending of these two seasons.  I love it and I look forward to more colorful photo shoots in the upcoming weekends!

My only gripe is how the trail at Ender’s falls just seems to stop at both ends of the trail.  And, to be fair, it’s not just something that I have noticed at Ender’s Falls.  In fact, it’s fairly common.  Due to the developments in the area and the obvious barriers such as roadways that have been constructed, the trails just seem to end without warning.  I can only imagine they went on for much longer distances in the past.  At least at the end of the trail to the right of the entrance stops at the bridge, giving you some warning ahead of time.  There is a narrrow path in the brush at one end.  But, it didn’t seem to go anywhere.

When you can get down to the stream safely, I do recommend it, though.  The closer view does offer some pretty views.

Ender’s Falls is a great place to take your pooch.  But, it may be too rocky and difficult terrain for some older dogs.

Gemma is a 3 month old Black Labrador.

Below are some videos of the mighty waterfalls:

This is a video posted by YouTuber Just Living  who is clearly braver (or crazier) than I am!


The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: 1 Old Bridge Rd, Simsbury, CT (about half an hour northwest of Hartford, CT)

Hours: Available 24 hours a day

Cost: Free (but donations are appreciated)

Parking: There is room for about a dozen or so cars in the parking lot off Old Bridge Rd

Handicapped Accessible: No, There are some poles at the entrance to the bridge to prevent vehicles from driving onto the bridge and I am not sure if wheelchairs could get past them (see photo below).

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Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: flowers strategically placed on a bridge, scenic, historical landmark

Website: Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge

Tips:

  • parking is located on located on Old Bridge Rd off Drake Hill Rd.  There’s no parking located at the entrance by Riverside Rd
  • popular place for weddings, engagements and portrait photography

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There’s more than one “bridge of flowers” in New England.

Inspired by the Bridge Of Flowers in Shelburne, MA, the Old Drake Bridge Of Flowers, is by no means as long or as flowery as the Bridge Of Flowers in Shelburne, MA.  Yet, what it lacks in length and variety of flowers it makes up for in charm.

Each section of the bridge is decorated with various flowers.  The bridge has 32 baskets and 48 boxes, some of which were built and added by an Eagle Scout, filled with flowers of an array of colors. The flowers bloom from late May to October.

During my visit, I met a woman who stops by every other day to water, trim and keep after the plants.  Clearly, she’s doing a wonderful job.

The bridge, originally built in 1892,  is an example of 19th century metal-truss bridge construction.  It spans 183 feet and includes a 12-foot roadway suspended 18 feet over Farmington River.  And it has been much traveled over the years.

The Old Drake Flower Bridge was originally built to be a one lane, one way bridge for vehicular traffic.  It was later replaced by a 2 lane bridge in 1992.  Finally, in 1995, it was restored as a pedestrian bridge.   It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984

There are also plants and flowers by the sides of  each entrance to the bridge.

At the entrance to the bridge, off to the left side, there is a memorial dedicated to the original bridge (the Weatogue Bridge) that was built there before it was replaced by the Old Drake Flower Bridge.

The inscription on the historical marker reads reads:

A toll bridge was built here 
in 1734 by order of 
the General Assembly 
it was the first 
highway bridge across 
the Farmington River

The Old Flower Bridge is a popular place for weddings, portrait photography shoots and engagements.  In fact, I turned around from the parking lot the first day I went there because there was a wedding or wedding shoot taking place and I didn’t want to disrupt them.  The second day I went I ran into a couple who had just gotten engaged.  The beaming couple asked me to take their photo and went on their merry way of future bliss.

The Old Flower Bridge is dog friendly.

Lisa (on the right) is a 5 year old Havanese.  I love seeing how happy and proud dog guardians are in their photos.

Tucker Jones is a 2 year old Corgi.

Leila is a 9 year old Bernese and Beagle mix.

Below is a link to The Flash Lady Photography.  The Flash Lady Photography conducted an engagement photo shoot on the bridge in 2015.  You may notice many of the flowers are not on the bridge when these photos were taken as it was the end of October when the photos were taken.  I hope they’re both very happy now!

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Granby D.O.G.G.S. Park (Salmon Brook Park, Granby, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: Salmon Brook Park, 215 Salmon Brook Street Granby, CT (20 minutes northwest of Hartford, CT)

Cost: Free

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are several parking areas.  The best place to park for the dog park is behind the big soccer field at the end of the road at the main entrance.

Highlights: table, chairs and bench, 1 acre for the dogs to play in, water source, two entrances/exits, double gated entrance

Website: Granby D.O.G.G.S. Park

Tips:

  • each visitor is allowed to bring 3 dogs each visit
  • No children under 8 are allowed in the dog park
  • The dog park is located in Salmon Brook Park

IMG_2791The D.O.G.G.S. part of Granby D.O.G.G.S. Park may stand for Dog Owners of Granby Getting Social.  But, it seems like the dogs that tend to get social there!

The one acre park, which has been open since November of 2005, has tables, chairs and a bench for dog sitter and guardians to sit and lovingly watch their dogs.  The park also has toys and a water source.  While dogs are allowed off leach at the park, they must be able to follow voice commands.

 

The large park, which has mulch over most of the park, gives dogs of all shapes and sizes lots of room to roam and chase each other and trees to play hide and seek.

 

During my visit to the dog park, there was a “Canine Swim” fund raiser at the pond in Salmon Brook Park, just a short walk from the dog park.

A $10 fee was charged for each dog that wanted to play in the water at the pond.  The funds were being raised to put toward maintenance of the dog park.

The dogs loved running around and into the pond.

 

Some of the many beautiful dogs I met at the dog park and fundraiser are shown below:

 

Roxy is a 12 year old mixed breed.  She is a therapy dog who likes to visit children, the elderly and anyone else who needs a little “dog therapy.”

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Cooper is a 7 month old Boston Terrier.  Cooper has complete heterochromia; he has two different colored eyes (his left eye is blue, his right eye is brown).

 

Gabe is a Great Pyrenees.  His guardian wasn’t sure what his age was exactly.  He and his parents found him on the side of the road and decided to take him in.

 

Heidi is an 8 year old Golden Retriever.  She loves to “retrieve”.  Get it!?

 

Molly the is a 5 year old Collie.

 

The aptly named Bear is a one and half year old Newfoundland.

 

From left to right, Ruby (named after Ruby Tuesday) is a 3 year old Saint Bernard.  Her brother, Ollie (named after Olive Garden) is a 2 year old Saint Bernard.  Anybody else getting hungry for lunch?

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Today’s featured link is a blog post by Out And About Mom about Salmon Brook Park, where the dog park is located.  I have featured Out And About Mom on my blog before.  She tends to blog about Connecticut attractions exclusively  and she does a great job in her posts.  Her post about the playground area at the park can be found here.


Ogunquit Dog Park (Ogunquit, ME)

Date Of Visit: August 25, 2017

Location: Spring Hill Rd, off Berwick Rd., Ogunquit, ME

Hours: Open daily, dusk to dawn

Parking: There is room for about 4 or 5 cars by the entrance with additional parking on the side of the road to the park.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: spacious park for dogs to play, kiddie pool, balls to throw, seating

Tips:

  • The park is located on a side road (Spring Hill Rd) with no other businesses or buildings, so there is ample parking on the side of the road if you can’t find a spot in the main parking area
  • I had some difficulty finding the park.  The website says to use this in your GPS as the address: 323 Berwick Rd. Ogunquit.  You will see a sign on Berwick Rd for the park.  It is the turn after Meadow Lane if you are coming from the east.  Or, if you are coming from the west and you see Meadow Lane you have gone too far.

Website: Ogunquit Dog Park

 

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Since its opening on January 15, 2011, Ogunquit Dog Park has been a play land for dogs of all breeds.  But, it may be it’s hidden history and a very special dog that makes the park so special.

Ogunquit Dog Park is spacious enough for lots of dogs to run around and play.  There are also benches and chairs to sit at while your dog enjoys the park.  And, of course, trees.

The one acre park is has a pool, shed, hydrant and tennis balls to throw to the dogs.  The shed at the entrance was built by the students at the local vocational high school in Wells, Maine.  The wood shavings on the ground give the park a pretty look.

Perhaps the highlight of the park is the memorial to Perkins, and all beloved dogs, that is set up inconspicuously near the center of the park by a tree.

IMG_0631 After Perkins, a golden retriever who used to frequent the park, passed away on Monday, October 26th, 2015, the pet’s guardian (Martin) and some other people came together to set up a memorial for him.  Perkins, whose “nana” worked in Perkins Cove, used to act as the “greeter” standing outside the door greeting customers and being cute.  Eventually, Perkins’ dad would decided to look into opening the park.  And, from there, the idea began to snowball.    There is also a note from the dog’s guardian and some photos of him.  I wish I could have met him.

For safety purposes during entry and exit of the park, the dog park is fully fenced with double gates.  There is a separate section for small dogs and a small trail to thee side of the park. Water that is piped in from a 3 year old, 600 foot deep well at the Transfer Station is available from April 1 to mid-November.  Also, the area is sprayed for ticks every 2 months with an organic solution.

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There was a steady flow of four legged visitors during my visit.

Ruby is a 7 year old Wheaton Terrier.  She also played an instrumental role in the opening of the dog park as she helped pull the yellow ribbon on the gate of the park to formally open the park.

Dice is an 11 month old Husky and Blue Heeler.  If you look closely, you may notice he has one brown eye and one blue eye.

Drisky is 7 months old.  Love his white socks!

Delaney is a mixed breed from South Carolina.

Rudy, the brown and white dog in the photos above, is a 9 year old Brittany Spaniel.

Today’s New England related link of the day is a poem dedicated to Perkins written by Richard W. Perkins:

Farewell Dear Friends

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Marginal Way (Oguinquit, ME)

 

Date Of Visit: August 26, 2017

Location: Shore Rd, Ogunquit, ME  (2 hours and 45 minutes south of Bangor, ME and 1 hour and 15 minutes northeast of Concord, NH)

Hours: daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There are several parking lots in the area and limited street parking is also available.  I parked at a lot on School St which is directly across from the entrance to Marginal Way.  The lots usually charge by the hour.  Below is a link to the municipal parking lots in the area:

Parking Lots Near Marginal Way

Distance/Difficulty: 1.25 miles (2.5 miles round trip)/easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, although some areas are narrow, it is handicapped accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes, but only during certain times of the year.  Dogs are permitted on the Marginal Way from October 1st to March 31st

Fitbit Stats: 2,5 miles, 4,768 steps, 752 calories

Highlights: scenic views, easy path, steps on the trail that lead to the beach

Website: Marginal Way Preservation Fund

Trail Maps: Marginal Way Trail Maps

Tips:

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Located Marginal Walk is anything but.  With its scenic views along the rocky coastline, access to Ogunquit Beach and pretty flowers and trees, Marginal Way is  a must see for anyone residing in or visiting Maine.

From the beginning of the walk, Marginal Way serves up some pretty views and a wide spectrum of colorful flowers.  The flowers from Sparhawk, the hotel located next to the entrance.

There are some stunning views along the way.

The path along the walk is generally wide with some narrow areas.  Most of the path is paved and I did see people with strollers.  There is also a bridge that is wide enough for two traffic and also seems to be handicapped accessible.

One of the unique things about this cliff walk is that you can walk down to the beach.  I noticed a few surfers ( I wish I learned how to surf in my younger days – maybe next year!)and sun seekers enjoying this part of the beach.  The rocks on the beach gave the beach a more natural feel.  There are also a few sandbars which allow you to walk out pretty far in the water.

Perhaps the best part of the walk, or at least the most rewarding part, is Perkins Cove at the end of the walk.  There  are a few eateries, several shops and a bridge.  The arts and crafts shops, coffee shop and candy store (which I highly recommend) give the area a quaint feel.

Sadly, dogs were not allowed on Marginal Way during my visit since they are only allowed on the walk during the fall and winter seasons.  But, I did see lots of dogs on the way to my car and at the end of the walk.

Gus, a 5 year old English Bulldog, was dressed to the nines for his photo shoot.

Landon, a 7 year old mixed hound retriever, showed me his pearly whites.

Below are some videos from my walk.  Just listening to the surf is so soothing.

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Amy Toyen Sculpture (Avon, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: parking lot of Avon Free Public Library, 281 Country Club Road, Avon, CT

Highlights: A life size sculpture of Amy reading a book and clutching a teddy bear

Tips:

  • The sculpture is located in the parking lot next to the left side of the library

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Sixteen years.  Who could imagine so much time has passed?

One hundred and fifty six people with ties to Connecticut died on that tragic day.  A memorial rests on the grounds of the Avon Free Public Library to memorialize one of these, and indeed all of the victims of this day.

Amy Toyen, a resident of Connecticut and employee of Thomson Financial in Newton, Connecticut.  As a side note, when I researched this memorial and Amy, I never knew she worked at the very same corporation I used to work at.  It’s amazing how we all seem to be connected in some way.

Amy, a 1995 Avon High graduate, was killed Sept. 11 while she set up her company’s display booth for a trade show on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

Dedicated by the 2001-2002 Avon High School Student Government and the Avon community, the 22″ bronze statue depicts a young child, Amy Toyen, on a granite bench reading a book, a teddy bear resting in the crook of her elbow.

To help create the sculpture, Amy’s parents selected a group of photos that portray their daughter as they remember her.

The sculpture shows Amy in daisy print dress, her favorite sneakers and ponytails tied with pompom rubber bands

 

A scholarship was also started in Amy’s name. The first recipient of the annual Amy E. Toyen Memorial Scholarship went to Christine Bialaski, an Avon High senior and honors student who is active in community service, music and field hockey.

Coincidentally, the Bialaski family lives down the street from the Toyens. As a young child, Amy Toyen often waited for the morning school bus at the Bialaskis’ home after her mother left for her teaching job at Renbrook School.

The sculptor, Marilyn Parkinson Thrall of Canton, Connecticut, stops by every once in a while to polish and clean up the sculpture.

The statue, a reminder of all that was lost that day, remembers Amy in a younger, more carefree time.

Amy’s obituary can be found here.