Category Archives: Simsbury

Pinchot Sycamore Tree Park (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: Hartford Rd Rt 185, Simsbury, CT

Hours: open daily, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 10 cars to park.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Pinchot Sycamore Tree Park

Highlights: biggest tree in Connecticut, boat launch, bench to sit

Tips:

  • It may be better to see the size of the tree in the fall, winter and spring when the trees skeleton is visible to fully appreciate the size of the tree
  • The park is the right just before the Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge on Rt 185 or just after the bridge, depending upon which way you’re traveling
  • Despite what your GPS says the best road to take to get to the tree is probably Cobtail Way

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Everyday, hundreds, if not thousands, of people pass by a historic landmark without even realizing it.  It is interesting  that so many people miss out on viewing the biggest tree in Connecticut and never know it.

When it was most recently measured in 2016 by the Connecticut Botanical Society, the trunk of the Pinchot Sycamore Tree was listed at 28 feet (8.5 meters) around and 100 feet (30 meters) tall.  It is estimated to be at least 200 years old and could be as old as 300 years.  The tree’s branches sprout in various directions.  With its thick, far reaching limbs, it could easily be used in a horror movie.

The tree was named in honor of influential conservationist and Connecticut resident Gifford Pinchot in 1965.  There was a re-dedication  in 1975.

There are two markers located by the tree.  The first marker (on the left below) is a thank you to all of the groups who have worked to make the park possible.  The second marker (on the right below) is the marker from the original dedication in 1965.  You’ll note the tree’s circumference was recorded as being 23 feet and 7 inches (as opposed to the 28 feet it was measured at in 2016).

To get a better sense of the size of the tree, take a look at the trunk of the this tree in proportion to this model.

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There is also a bench located near the back of the tree that is dedicated to Pauline Schwartz.  The note on the bench states, “Come Have A Seat By Pauline Schwartz’s Favorite Tree” with some designs and, although it is slightly worn, an image that appears to be a person’s face.  Pauline, a native of Bridgeport, CT, passed away in 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.  A bench was dedicated in her honor because of her love of the park.

Behind the tree, almost hidden from the park is a boat launch that offers views of the Farmington River.

The entrance to the park is a little hard to find, unless you know where.  ON Rt 185 just before or after the bridge, there are two green poles that mark the entrance to the park.  The road to the parking lot is short but a little narrow.

As I mentioned in the tips section, it’s probably better to fully appreciate the size of the during the fall, winter or spring when the leaves are off the tree, so you can see the full size of the tree without the leaves hiding the skeleton of the tree.  Below is a photo of what the tree looks like without its leaves (from foursquare.com).


Heublein Tower (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: Talcott Mountain State Park, Route 185, Simsbury, CT

Cost: Free

Hours: The trail to the tower is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Hours for the museum in the tower are as follows:

Memorial Day Weekend through September 30th, the museum is open Thursday through Sunday only.
October 1 – October 31st the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Museum hours are 10 am to 5 pm. Pets, food, drink, and walking sticks are not allowed in the museum.

Parking:

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: Yes

Trail Size/Difficulty: 2.5 miles round trip/moderate with some sharp inclines.

Website: Friends Of Heublein Tower

Talcott Mountain State Park

Highlights: tower, scenic views,

Tips:

  • There is no parking lot at the park.  Parking is allowed on the side of the road at and near the trail to the tower
  • Don’t forget to check out the scenic views on the way up to the tower by taking the trail closest to the ledge (the trail on the right after the trail splits
  • The trail has a steep incline at the beginning but evens out and becomes easier about halfway to the tower
  • If using a GPS: Parking is located on Summit Ridge Dr. Simsbury, CT 06070

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Once the home of Gilbert Heublein (pronounced “High-Bline”), Heublein Tower offers some of the most pretty views in the Connecticut River Valley.

As legend has it, during a hike of Talcott Mountain with his fiance Louise M. Gundlach, he promised her that one day he would build her a castle there.  He would make good on his promise in 1914 with the Heublein Tower.

Heublein manufactured such delicacies as A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka.  Anyone else hungry for some steak and vodka? A barbecue, perhaps?

Heublein Tower is located along a trail that begins at Talcott Mountain State Park.  Parking is available along the sides of the road to the tower.

Along the trail to the tower, you can take the trail on the right to see some pretty views of the Farmington River Valley.  As you can also see by some of the photos, the trail does have some inclines.  There are also some benches along the trail at the beginning of the trail.

During certain days you can enter the tower and view the rooms in the tower.  The at times arduous hike is worth it for the views of the tower and the self guided tower of the inside of the tower.

The views from Heublein Tower are stunning.

The trails are not too hard for man nor beast.  Dogs of a variety of sizes and breeds were on the trail during my visit.

Hiro is a 7 month old Cobberdog

Monte is a 2 year old Tibetan Terrier.

Kaiser is a 2 year old Airedale.

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Roscoe (on the left) is a 3 year old Rottweiler.   Love his bandanna!

Onyx (on the right) is a 2 year old boxer.

 

 


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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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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