Here are some ideas for places to go for outside fun around Middlesex County.
Guida Farm Preserve - Middletown
This property is owned by the City of Middletown and is a 99-acre parcel containing eight open fields, two ponds, some old field habitat of black birch and eastern red cedar, and mixed deciduous woodland. This is Lisa's go-to hike for 30-60 min. of fresh air (depending on how fast you go). From the parking lot, head south on the old road and almost immediately veer left and follow the blue trail southeast across the field and into the woods. Finish the loop on the red trail.
The Bear Hill loop trail combined with the New England Trail (Mattabessett) make a nice hike in eastern Middletown. You can enjoy the views through the trees, large rock outcrops and walk through tunnels of mountain laurel.
Click here for photos, a map and detailed information you can use to plan a hike at Bear Hill. The recommended hike is 4.2 miles, but a shorter hike here would be enjoyable too. (This is part of a collaboration with the Rockfall Foundation).
To see more photos and to learn more about mountain laurel and other native plants that bloom in this area, check out the EO blog.
Palmer Taylor Preserve - Portland
The Palmer Taylor Preserve is a great place for a 1-2 mile adventure. You are surrounded by flowers if you follow the Palmer trail as it winds over Snow Drop Hill in the spring. In addition to this garden are lots of other things to enjoy including a stream, numerous rock outcroppings & a view through the trees of the CT river. This 90-acre property is one of Middlesex Land Trust's primary preserves and has the historic Erinmore Barn on the property. The preserve is crossed by the Air Line Trail. As part of our continued collaboration with the Rockfall Foundation, click here for photos and detailed information you can use to plan a hike on the Palmer Trail.
Enjoy a short exploration or connect with the New England Trail and hike to the CT river or New Hampshire! For a nice mile 1.8-mile lollypop loop, follow the Lone Pine (blue/red) trail up past some rock outcroppings, hike the Ridge Trail (red) loop and back down Lone Pine. Watch for the turn for the view point and enjoy the vista of nearby ridges and to Long Island Sound on a clear day. In spring, you can find creatures in the big vernal pool and a variety of wildflowers. Click here for a pdf guide to the Geology and Forest Ecology of the Braemore Preserve.
You can visit the series of small cascades referred to as Seven Falls from a roadside stop on Saybrook Rd. To avoid the crowds that park there in nice weather, you can enjoy a 2.8 mile loop hike from Aircraft Rd. We have partnered with the Rockfall Foundation to share with you detailed hike information. This hike has numerous interesting rock features including a couple fun rock scrambles.
For Rockfall’s Off the Beaten Path blog including directions to the parking area on Aircraft Rd, click here.
Bear Rock & Millers Pond - Durham
There are numerous nice hikes near Millers Pond State Park (click here for a map and state park information.) The short hike to the Bear Rock overlook (see photo) from Harvey Rd is one of our favorites.
We are teaming with the Rockfall Foundation to provide you with details about a specific hike that takes you from Harvey Rd past the Bear Rock overlook to Miller’s pond and back.
For Rockfall’s Off the Beaten Path blog including directions to the parking area on Harvey Rd, click here.
Chatfield Hollow - Killingworth
Chatfield Hollow has a variety of trails from rock and sometimes steep to easy walking on old roads. There a rocky stream, cliffs, pond, a marsh and a cave that native Americans once used. Fun short hikes with kids: the yellow trail or go to the cave on the green close to parking area near Rt 80. For longer and more challenging hikes the white and red trails are great. Buck Rd and Schubert Rd are nice for an easier walk, especially in winter when some of the trails may be icy.
With its exposed granite ledges rising 400 feet above the Coginchaug River Valley, Mica Ledges offers magnificent vistas south to Long Island Sound and west to the trap rock ridges. Notable features include a number of caves and fascinating rock formations created by the cliffs and boulder field on the eastern side of Mica Hill, as well as the beautiful 6-acre Whitney Pond.
This is one of Lucy's favorite place's to hike. Upper lake is beautiful in all seasons. There are many rocky ridges and valleys running north-south that were carved in part by the glaciers. Some favorite spots are "The Gulch" and "Paradise Pool".