In an effort to catch up this site on our adventures before life gets crazy again, today we are sharing about a variety of hiking and exploring that we’ve done in Southeastern Connecticut. Some of these were just short afternoon outings, while others were day trips — just a little too uneventful to be made into their own post.
Rocky Neck State Park – July 20, 2017
This was a mid-week venture to a coastal state park about a half hour West of New London. Its main attraction is the beach, but we visited to go for a short walk and find a few letterboxes. It’s free to visit during the week, and has other opportunities for walking, biking, picnics, and camping. I believe Charlotte wasn’t allowed on the beach, but she was able to hike all the trails with us.
Hurd State Park – July 30, 2017
Following our trip to Hartford, we decided that it would be enjoyable to do some more hiking along the Connecticut River. There are a plethora of State Parks and other natural areas lining both sides of the river. So it was simply a matter of finding some letterboxes along an interesting hike…a task easier said than done. Ultimately we ended up settling on Hurd State Park, a previous Sky challenge location. The trail we followed led us up to a cliff overlooking the river before eventually reaching a summit. A short but enjoyable, and most importantly, solitary, hike. After our 3 mile walk here, we drove further North to Middletown to cross the Connecticut River and began heading back South on the West side. We stopped briefly at Seven Falls State Park to do another hike for a letterbox on the New England Trail, but shortly after beginning we found the trail to just follow a gravel road cleared for power lines and changed our minds.
Mystic & Stonington – August 10, 2017
This trip was less of a hike and more of a trip to accomplish our last goal for Connecticut: viewing the Whispering Giant in Mystic. This giant isn’t in the best shape, so the caretakers currently have it taken down and set aside until they can have Peter Toth come and repair it. However, if you contact the Olde Mistick Village, you can request to view the statue. We went on a weekday afternoon and a woman working there took us to see the giant. After this, we considered visiting the Mystic waterfront and checking out this touristy coastal town, but were soon reminded of why we don’t like doing this sort of thing and decided to go a little further East to Stonington. Here, we drove all the way to the lighthouse out on the narrow point. It was quite busy here even on a Thursday afternoon, but we still took a few minutes to check out all the lighthouses and islands we could see on the horizon and visited the Stonington lighthouse.
Pachaug State Forest and Old Norwichtown – August 12, 2017
On this weekend we really considered several ‘longer’ hikes on the other side of the state or in MA and NH, but we simply couldn’t justify the long drive for such short summits and hikes. So, on a whim, I (Curtis) began researching peaks in CT with fire or observation towers and making a list on Peakbagger. By mistake I ended up discovering a relatively prominent peak in SE CT. While the fire tower was torn down, the peak still happened to be a previous Sky Challenge location. So we headed up a dozen miles North to Pachaug State Forest. The hike up Mount Misery was far from miserable. We enjoyed the view, found a letterbox, (sadly not the oldest in the state), and looped back to the car.
On the drive back we stopped briefly to take pictures of a very picturesque field of sunflowers. We then continued on to Norwich, a town a few miles upriver from New London. In Norwich we made our way to a rather historic cemetery for some letterboxing. Among the multitude of Colonial graves were three ‘more’ historic ones: The grave/monument to two dozen of Rochambeau’s French soldiers who had died during the Revolution, en route from Rhode Island to Yorktown, VA. The graves of Benedict Arnold’s parents and siblings. And the grave of Samuel Huntington, who was the President of the Continental Congress when the Articles of Confederation were ratified and was thus the de facto ‘first president’ of the United States.
Bailey’s Ravine – August 13, 2017
Having had success the previous day at finding local hikes, we again turned to the internet to find local hikes. One site purporting the ‘best hikes’ in CT recommended a waterfall hike a few miles North of Norwich. We found ourselves just outside the town of Franklin at the roadside trailhead for Bailey’s Ravine. Almost immediately the trail went up a cliff side. That’s a good sign for waterfall hikes right? Unfortunately the hike was somewhat of a bust. Less than 2 miles round trip, in a loop, the waterfalls were…less than spectacular. Still, it got us out of the hotel for a couple hours and we found some letterboxes.
Chatfield Hollow State Park – August 17, 2017
The purpose of this last weekday adventure was to visit our last site for the Sky’s the Limit 2017 Challenge! We chose Chatfield Hollow State Park near Killingworth. The site that we needed to see was the Oak Lodge Nature Center which was built by the CCC, but much like other Sky sites for this year, it was a drive-up location not requiring any sort of effort to see. Thankfully there were several letterboxes in the park to make our trip worth while! We wandered a couple miles through the woods and found some boxes, saw a covered bridge and a working water wheel. There are plenty of other trails in the park as well as a pond, and the park is free to visit on weekdays. On our way home from this site, we passed by an interesting site in the town of Essex. It was the Valley Railroad site, with a few trains and stations. We saw that one of them is used as a dinner train. We parked in a nearby lot and got out to walk around a bit to check it out before continuing our drive home.
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It’s hard to believe our summer in Connecticut is coming to a close! Even though we don’t have all our ducks in a row yet for our upcoming move, we are more than ready to begin this new adventure! We’ll post on here whenever we get a chance, but if you want to follow our move in more real-time, we’ll be sharing updates on our Instagram accounts: @curtisandjess, @squatchis, and @charlotte.antebellum.