Visiting Downtown Hartford • Talcott Mountain State Park • Stratton Brook State Park • Salmon River State Forest • July 29, 2017 • Written by Curtis & Jess
The weekend after visiting Rhode Island’s state capitol, we thought it was about time we visit Connecticut’s. We got up early and hit the road on Saturday, driving North directly into the downtown area. It’s so nice visiting cities in the morning on weekends. You’d think nobody was awake before 9 AM. We easily found free parking right in the heart of downtown and started off on our walking tour of Connecticut’s Capitol.
We first found our way to the Old Capitol building. As always, with Charlotte, we are limited to viewing these buildings from the outside only. Fortunately, there is still plenty to see and read on the outside as well. Plaques and statues gave brief snapshots of Connecticut history from the founding of Hartford, to Captain Wadsworth and the Charter Oak, to the numerous visits by George Washington both during the War and after.
After wandering the grounds we started walking vaguely towards the current Capitol building, passing by numerous buildings from the city’s history. Once at the current State Capitol we circled around the building on the grounds, admiring the very detailed sides of the ornate, gothic-revival style building. Along the outside are several bas relief carvings of even more parts of Connecticut history. There are also many niches filled with statues of famous Connecticuters.
Once we had circled around Bushnell Park, we made one last stop to see the Soldiers and Sailors monument, which was an impressive giant arch across the road honoring Connecticuters in the Civil War. Altogether, our little walking tour was just a couple miles long, and was enough “city walking” for us today. We enjoyed the historic and detailed architecture, but over all our impression was that the city was rather dirty. If it had been just Curtis and I walking it may have not been as noticeable, but since we had a curious puppy who likes to sniff out everything and eat whatever she can, we were constantly trying to drag her away from trash or pry bones out of her mouth. That was the worst part — no where else has she found chicken bones lying along sidewalks! It was gross and we were ready to move on.
Next, we wanted to do a short hike, so we headed Northwest out of the city. We made one last quick stop to see Mark Twain’s house, then continued on to Talcott Mountain State Park. Here, Curtis had planned a short hike up to the tower and back. It was around 10 in the morning at this point, and there were quite a bit more people here than there were downtown. Still, the hike up Talcott Mountain Trail was very pleasant: 3 miles round trip, beginning with a steeper path up for the first half mile, then gradually following a ridge the rest of the way with good unobstructed views to the West. The tower at the top was not what we were expecting, it was an impressive tall structure that once was used as a private retreat by the Heublein Family. The tower was open and free to climb, so we took turns walking up the stairs and enjoying the museum exhibits on the way up. The top observation room gives an excellent view in all directions with maps detailing everything that can be seen. The view was certainly worth having to share with many other hikers!
Once we made it back to the car, we had a quick lunch then drove a little further Northwest. Our next destination was to visit another Sky’s the Limit Challenge site in Stratton Brook State Park. The site here is the Stratton Brook Depot, which is now non-existant so it was a little unclear what we were here to see (or why it was part of the challenge) but we still went for a short walk and saw a covered bridge.
After that, we began our drive back to the opposite side of the state. As we passed through Hartford again, the downtown area was much busier than earlier. As we drove East on CT2, we made one final stop for the day, another Challenge site: the Blackledge River Bridge in Salmon River State Forest. This site was a bit more remote and we were alone for most of our walk here. We walked along the Airline Trail until we came to a side trail that took us down through a meadow and by the side of the river next to the bridge. We found a letterbox, sat and enjoyed the peaceful area, then finished up the rest of the drive home. In all, it was a very busy day with lots of sites seen. We’re doing our best to enjoy the area we’re in and do as much as we can, but sometimes it just feels like we’re doing things just to check items off our “New England summer bucket list” and move on. Thankfully not every weekend is like that though — more on that soon!