Tag Archives: trails

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

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 (2.4 round trip).  The trail is easy.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes
Website: Stratton Brooks State Park

Map: Stratton Brooks State Park Map

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 The railroad tracks have since been replaced by a biking and hiking trail.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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Retreat Farm (Brattleboro, VT)

Date Of Visit: August 6, 2017

Location: 350 Linden St, Brattleboro, VT

Hours: Open Wed-Sun 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Mon & Tue)

Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for children and seniors, free admission for children under 2

Trail Size/Difficulty: roughly 1.5 miles, Easy

Fitbit Stats: 1.59 miles, 3,327 steps, 297 calories burned

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Parking: There is parking for about 20 vehicles in the parking lot

Website: Retreat Farm

Retreat Trail Map: Retreat Trail Map

Highlights: animals, educational, trail, family friendly

Tips:

  • Don’t forget to take the roughly 1.5 mile Nature Trail behind the farm
  • you can get in the pens with some of the animals
  • if you do go on the trail, try going up the “Skyline Spur” trail
  • follow the signs to the Nature Trail or Lil’ Lamb Loop to access the shorter mile long trail behind the farm
  • Located right next to Grafton Village Cheese Co

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It’s easy to find Retreat Farm.  Just follow the pinwheels.  If you’re lucky, you might even be able to take one home.

The signs and some of the advertising for the Retreat Farm tout it as a “children’s farm” but it is fun for the entire family.

Retreat Farm has a variety of birds and animals in their barn.  They also allow you to go into the animal pens of some of the animals and pat some of them.

There are also three piglets: Basil, Olive and Rosemary.  They moved around a lot.  So, it was hard to keep track of each one.  But, I am pretty sure Rosemary is the first one pictured with the white and brown pattern.

Carlos, an 11 year old Brahma-Red Holstein bull, has been a resident for some time at the farm.  Standing over 7 feet tall, Carlos is truly a gentle giant.  In fact, he is so gentle visitors can feed him by hand.

Naturally, there are lots of toys and activities for children to partake in and places for adults or younger people to sit while their children or nieces or nephews play.

There is also a short trail (about 1.5 miles) behind the farm.  The trail is actually part of a much longer 9 mile Retreat Trail.  But, as long as you stay on the trail behind the farm you should not end up on this larger trail.

I found people of all ages and fitness levels on the trail.  It’s pretty straight with a few inclines.  But, I would rate it as being easy.  There is one very shallow and narrow stream that you will have to cross.  You can basically walk right through it.  So, it’s not a big obstacle.  The views are very nice on the trail.  There are also various plants planted along the trail such as False Solomon Seal.

If you do decide to go on the shorter trail and avoid the 9 mile trail, follow the signs to the Nature Trail or the Lil Lamb Loop.

Along the main trail, there is a side trail wit a staircase called Skyline Spur.

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The short flight of stairs take you up to an area where, during the winter, there is a ski jump.  This ski jump will be used as one of the venues for the Olympic trials for the next Olympics.

Pets are allowed on the trails behind the Retreat Farm, which are open to hikers and snow shoers year round.  I saw this cute dog on the trail.  Avive, a friendly 2 and a half year old Irish Setter, greeted me when I got off the Skyline Spur trail.

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One of the gems of the much longer Retreat Trail is the Retreat Tower.  It’s not very far from the farm.  Due to time constraints, I could not take the trail to the tower.  However, Brandy Ellen and her companion were able to hike to it, take some photos and provide a good synopsis of their hike and a summary of the history of the tower. It has quite a storied and sad past.

Take A Hike…

 

 


Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary (Attleboro, MA)

Dates Of Visits: May 20 & June 19, 2017

Location: Park St, Attleboro, MA (behind the La Salette Shrine at 947 Park St) (45 minutes southwest of Boston, MA, and 15 minutes northeast of Providence, RI)

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free but donations are appreciated

Parking: There is room for about 10 cars in the lot next to the trail.  You may also be able to park at the Lasallette Shrine in front of the trail.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 3 miles total (.5 handicapped accessible), easy with a few gentle inclines

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, .5 miles of the trail are handicapped accessible with boardwalks, along the pond and vernal pool.  The rest of the trails are dirt, narrow and rocky and not handicapped accessible.

Dog Friendly: Dogs are not usually allowed on the Audubon trail but they are allowed in certain sections of the trail at Attleboro Springs (on the reflection trail I believe)

Website: Attleboro Springs

Trail Map: Attleboro Springs Trail Map

Highlights: wildlife, vernal pool,

Fitbit Stats: 2,712 steps, 242 calories, 1.19 miles

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Often overshadowed by the more well known cities and towns  south of Boston, Attleboro, MA, is one of the more underrated sections of Massachusetts.  It is also the site of two beautiful Audubon sanctuaries (Attleboro Springs and Oak Knoll) .  I decided to visit Attleboro Springs first.

Attleboro Springs is a little hard to find.  Basically, look for the La Salette Shrine on Park St.  The path to the trail is the very next turn after the shrine.

From the entrance to the park, one word comes to mind – charming.  A pavilion and map of the trail are located on the trail at the entrance.

The main trail at Attleboro Springs is the Reflection Trail.  The Reflection Trail encircles a pond.  A vernal pool with a vernal pool are also on the trail.  It is the easiest trail to take, although there are additional side trails.

Birds, frogs, tadpoles and other kinds of wildlife are abundant along the trail, particularly at the pond and vernal pool.

I love side trails and going off the beaten path.  So, of course I tried them.  There wasn’t much to see except a brook and a cool bridge on the side trail.

The Reflection Trail is very easy with few inclines or rocky terrain which makes it ideal for jogging on or taking walks on, particularly since it is a short trail (about 3/4 of a mile).

I know I write this often.  But, what the heck.  I could spend all day here.  The trails are easy.  The pond is a popular spot for birds and aquatic life (naturally).  And there are seats to watch all the life around you.  As an added bonus, it’s free to visit.  It’s usually the smaller, charming places that stick with me.  In fact, I liked it so much I visited it twice.

The Nomad’s link of the day is a blog post by WordPress blogger and fellow New Englander  Kristen.  Kristen’s blogs are peppered with book reviews, pretty photos and interesting observations.  Kristen posted about  place that is very close to this trail and is one of the more popular places in Attleboro,    La Salette is a popular place to visit year round.  But, it is especially busy during the winter each year when they host a holiday light display.  You can find Kristen’s wonderful blog post here.


Harold Parker State Forest (No. Andover, MA)

 

Date Of Visit: June 25, 2017

Location: 305 Middleton St., No. Andover, MA (about 30 minutes north of Boston and about 1 hour southeast of Concord, NH)

Cost: There are several parking stations to pay per the hour or you can park at the headquarters which is what I did.  There wasn’t a charge to park at the headquarters the day I visited.   The charge to park at Berry Pond is $5 for MA vehicles; $6 for non-MA vehicles

Hours: trails are open sunrise to sunset.  Berry Pond Beach is open 10am-6pm from June 25- Sept 5.

Parking: There are several parking lots throughout the automated pay stations.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 35 miles of logging roads and trails/easy with some challenging inclines

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the main paves trail is and Berry Pond has several handicapped parking spaces right near the beach.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: wildlife, beach, lakes, extensive trail system, campground area, rock climbing

Website: Harold Parker State Forest

Trail Map: Harold Parker State Forest Trail Map

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One of the more vast state forests I have visited to date, Harold Parker State Forest boasts over 35 miles of trails and roads, a beach (Berry Pond), several ponds and lakes and a variety of wildlife.  I spent over 6 hours there and, while I did cover a lot of ground, there was surely some a lot I didn’t see.  Tip of the day: if you do go, bring a trail map!

The trails at Harold Parker are generally easy with some moderate inclines.  Due to the various streams and wetlands, there are also several boardwalk trails.

 

Harold Parker is a popular spot for cyclists.  According to the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) the single track riding rates at Harold Parker State Forest are: 30% easy, 30% moderate, and 40% difficult with some rocky sections.

It is a little difficult finding the exact entrance to Harold Parker (I found 3 different addresses but I included the address of the headquarters at the top of this post).  It’s not a bad thing, though, because you can park in any of the various parking areas.  Just to make  sure to pay at the pay station when you do park.  You can also drive to each different parking area as the main road is paved and fairly wide enough for traffic, cyclists and hikers to share the road.

I began my day at Stearns Pond, one of the many ponds in the area.  Fishing is allowed and I met a friendly fisherman who goes there regularly to cast his lines.  They also allow non-motorized boating in the ponds.  There is an annual fishing festival held in September at the state forest.

 

Stearns Pond is only one of the many ponds, rivers and streams at Harold Parker State Forest.  In fact, it’s hard to keep track of which pond or river you are at, even with the aid of a map.  But, there were some amazing views from the various bodies of water.

 

Unexpectedly, I came across this huge rock.  I bet there’s a good story about this rock.  I couldn’t find anything about in my research, though.  It’s one big rock, though!  Right!?

 

One of the highlights of Harold Parker is Berry Pond which is essentially a beach area and playground for children and families.  It was a perfect beach day and the beach was packed.  But, with photographic trickery I was able to photograph the beach without showing the sun bathers and swimmers.  After all, not everyone wants to be seen in their Speedo.

 

Walking along the SKUG Reservation Trail, I came across the site of an old quarry and soapstone mill, the Jenkins Mill.  There’s not much now to indicate it was once a quarry.  If not for the marking on the map and a few rocks dispersed around the area, I would not have known it was once there.  It’s kind of a shame that something that meant so much to so many people and was once such an important part of the area is now little more than a blip on the screen.

 

There are lots of birds, chipmunks, frogs and other critters visible along the trail and in the water at Harold Parker.

 

Harold Parker State Forest is a dog friendly park.  However, I didn’t see as many dogs as I thought I would.   I did manage to see these three cuties, though!

Suzie is a 7 month old English Setter.  She is hearing impaired.  So, she can hear some sounds.  Her dad uses signals to help him communicate with her.

 

Bella (or “Bell”) is a 9 year old Beagle and Lab mix.

 

Herbie is a 1 year old Pit mix.

 

Below is a video of one of the brooks that runs through Harold Parker State Forest.  Enjoy!

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Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Sanctuary (Tiverton, RI)

Date Of Visit: December 14, 2016

Location: Seapowet Ave, Tiverton, RI (about an hour south of Boston and about 30 minutes  southeast of Providence, RI)

Cost: Free but donations are appreciated

Hours: Trails are open dawn until dusk

Parking: There is a lot which can accomodate about 5-10 cars

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Trail Difficulty/Size: 50 acres of easy but narrow trails, I couldn’t find a description of the trail lengths but it can’t be more than 4 or 5 miles total

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No, Audubon sanctuaries are not pet friendly

Highlights:easy trails, blinds to hide behind bird watch, wildlife, streams and bodies of water, birds, scenic

Web Site: Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Emilie Ruecker Trail Map

As a preface, I am trying to post about as many of my trips from earlier this year before the end of the year.  So, I may be posting pretty much every day until the new year and into the beginning of the new year to catch up and start fresh in 2017.  Lucky you… ( :

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Tucked away just over the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border is a serene little trail with lots of surprises.

One of the cutest surprises are these blinds that you can hide behind to photograph or observe birds.

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The trails at Emilie Ruecker are easy enough to navigate and they are mostly loops so it is easy to stay on the trail. There are also maps displayed throughout the sanctuary.  The trails can be narrow in some areas.  Also, if you go on the red trails, it’s easy to go off track.  Just keep looking for the color coded trees to stay on track.

One of the cool things are the openings along the trails that allow you to get closer to the water so you can view the ducks and other birds.

You’ll also find the occasional bench to rest at.

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Although there is lots of wildlife at the sanctuary, the highlight for me was the beautiful scenic views.

If you look closely, you may see the outline of a deer just behind the branch of this tree.  Unfortunately, my camera couldn’t focus in time to get a better photo.

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Much like this deer, the birds at Emilie Ruecker were hard to photograph.

The birds in the water proved more easy to photograph.

These birds were very easy to photograph, as long as I kept my distance.  They were hanging out on the other side of the road across from the sanctuary on some farm land.

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Massasoit State Park (East Taunton, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 6, 2016

Location: 1361 Middleboro Ave, East Taunton, MA (about 45 minutes south of Boston, MA)

Cost: Free this time of the year.  Seasonal prices are not posted on the web site or at the park.

Hours: Open Daily 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (hours may vary depending upon the season)

Parking: There were roughly 50 to 60 parking spots in the lot

Handicap Accessible:  No.  The side trails can be very rocky and, in some areas difficult to navigate.  The main road is paved but cars and other vehicles do travel along the road often.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Time To Spend During Visit: 2 to 3 hours

Highlights: pretty trees, pretty views, bodies of water, dog and horse friendly, cranberry bogs, boat launch (the seasonal camping sitees have not been opened since the 2008camping season)

Web Site: Massasoit State Park

Trail Map: Massasoit State Park Trail Map

Named after the sachem, or leader, of the Wompanoag Confederacy, Massasoit State Park boasts 1,207 acres of trails, 5 bodies of water and a beach area.  Add to that some pretty sweet views.

The first thing you’ll notice, and perhaps the main attraction, at Massasoit State Park are the cranberry bogs.  The colors of the cranberry and the trees clash to make some pretty contrasts, particularly during foliage season.

The trails at Massasoit State Park are mostly easy with a few moderate inclines.  There were a few boardwalks and makeshift bridges made out of trees and other debris.Many of the trails were carpeted with leaves.

Signs of foliage were everywhere.  Trees burst with orange, red, yellow and green this time of the year.

Massasoit has 5 ponds and a beach area.  The bodies of water are surrounded by pretty trees and vegetation.

Swans and other birds inhabit the ponds.

As you can tell by the photos, the weather changed about, oh, 16 times during the day.  In other words, it was your typical New England day.  It rained, hard at times, for short periods of time and the sun crept out as well.

Another thing I noticed at Massasoit State Park are the rocks.  There are white rocks placed throughout the park and other big rocks with crystal-like elements in them.

The park is also popular with cyclists.  I saw dozens of cyclists during my visit.  This friendly cyclist was nice enough to let me photograph him.

With its wide paved trail and abundant side trails, Massasoit is the perfect place to bring your dog and I saw several dogs enjoying the fall weather during my visit.

Rex is a 6 and a half year old Blue Tick Coon Hound.  Never heard of a Blue Tick Coon Hound?  Join the club.  Apparently, Blue Tick Coon Hounds are hunting dogs that are prevalent in West Virginia, which is where Rex is from.

Granger is a 4 year old Black Mouth Cur.

Cocoa is a 10 year old Chihuahua and terrier mix breed.  He lives nearby and visits the park often.

I also saw these two playmates at Massasoit.

Grace, a 2 year old Doberman and Sydney , a 1 year old Golden Doodle, affectionately played at the park.

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Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refugee – Fort River Division (Hadley, MA)

Date Of Visit: September 7, 2016

Location: 69 Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA

Hours: Open everyday, sunrise until sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a lot at the entrance of the trail for about 20-30 cars

Dog Friendly: Yes

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Highlights: wildlife, easy trail, flowers

Web Site: Sylvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge

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Named after Silvio Ottavio Conte, a 16 term Republican member of the U.S. House of Reprentatives from Pittsfield, MA, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge is  and easy 1.1 mile trail dotted with trees, flowers and the occasional bird.

Broken into 9 divisions and 9 units across New England, the Sylvio O. Conte parks feature a variety of parks in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

I chose to visit the Fort River Division in Hadley, Massachusetts during the week of the Labor holiday.  So, the photos are not an accurate display of what the refuge looks like now.  It is undoubtedly even more beautiful with all of the foliage this time of the year.

The refuge has mostly flat, well groomed trails with some raised platform walkways.

There are benches and lookouts along the way.

The views from the lookouts and on the trails are very pretty.

The flowers, plants and trees at the Sylvio O. Conte trail are also very pretty.

Although it was only the early part of September, I saw the signs of fall on the trail.  Leaves covered parts of the trail and some of the leaves appeared to be turning color already.

As the name indicates, the Fort River runs through a portion of the trail.

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The winding trails are very charming.  They make you wonder what could be around the next corner.  Even though it is only slightly more than a mile in length, the trail does provide a lot of surprises.  One of the surprises you may find on the trail is wildlife.  Deer, bobcats and coyote are said to populate the area.  But, I didn’t see any of them during my visit.  Oh, and then there are birds.  There are lots of birds at Sylvio O. Conte trail.  I photographed a few of them.

While it’s certainly not a challenging trail and you’re not likely to find too much wildlife or other surprises, I would still recommend this trail to anyone looking for a casual walk with some pretty scenery.