CT DEEP offering free, guided hikes in state parks on New Year’s Day


(WTNH) — Help celebrate the new year by staying in shape at state parks.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) State Parks is offering free, guided hikes in many state parks on New Year’s Day.

Connecticut is joining the rest of the nation that day as part of America’s State Parks’ First Day Hikes initiatives.

First Day Hikes started more than 25 years ago at a State Park in Massachusetts.

Here is a list of the Connecticut State Parks taking part in First Day Hikes 2020:

  • Burr Pond State Park
    • Where: 384 Burr Mountain Rd., Torrington, CT. Meet at parking lot kiosk.
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details: Moderate to difficult, if icy. Dogs allowed on leash. Bring sturdy hiking boots, water, snack and hiking poles if desired.
    • Contact: Lance Hansen (860) 882-9632.
    • Sponsor: Torrington Trails Network, Connecticut Forest and Park Association and CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
  • Candlewood Hill Wildlife Management Area
    • Where: 1425 Gold Star Hwy., Groton; watch for Groton Open Space Association signs.
    • When: 10 a.m
    • Details: Challenging and uneven terrain. Several quarries on site, rare pitch pine preserve, extensive wetlands, cliffs and views to Long Island Sound. No pets allowed. Bring water, snack, hiking poles, wear weather appropriate clothing, and good footwear with traction especially if icy. Heavy rain or snow cancels.
    • Contact: Joan Smith at (860) 536-9811.
    • Sponsor: Groton Open Space Association
  • Gillette Castle State Park
    • Where: 67 River Rd., East Haddam, CT; meet at the Visitor’s Center.
    • When: Noon
    • Details: Hike will follow the old rail bed, easy hike for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. After the first hike, a second hike of approximately ¾ of a mile will be offered; this hike will include river views.
    • Sponsor: Friends of Gillette Castle.
    • Contact: Paul (860) 222-7850
  • James L. Goodwin Conservation Center
    • Where: 23 Potter Rd., Hampton, CT
    • When: 11a.m.
    • Details: Moderate, 2-hour hike, two miles; dogs on leash allowed. Bring water and weather-appropriate clothing and footwear.
    • Contact: Lena Ives – Helena.Ives@ct.gov. In case of inclement weather call Goodwin Center at (860) 455-9534.
  • Haddam Meadows State Park
    • Where: Route 154, Haddam, CT; meet at the parking lot entrance.
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details: Easy, 2-mile hike. Walk along the Connecticut River. Bring water, snack and snowshoes, if needed. Dogs well behaved and on leash allowed. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
    • Cancellation: If bad weather, hike will be cancelled.Check weather conditions for Haddam.
    • Contact: Gail Reynolds at gail.reynolds@uconn.edu.
    • Sponsor: Friends of Haddam Meadows State Park.
  • Hammonasset Beach State Park
    • Where: 1288 Boston Post Rd., Madison, CT; Meet at the Meigs Point Nature Center.
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details: Easy walk, less than one mile. No pets on walks. All ages welcome; terrain not suitable for strollers. Bring water and weather-appropriate clothing and footwear.
    • Cancellation: Call the Nature Center at (203) 245-8743
    • Sponsor: Friends of Hammonasset.
  • Hopeville Pond State Park
    • Where: Route 201, Griswold, CT; Meet at main parking area on the left after you enter the park.
    • When: 11 a.m.
    • Details: Easy 3-mile hike. Bring water and snacks. Wear weather appropriate clothing and footwear.
    • Contact: Friendsofpachaugforest@gmail.com.
    • Sponsor: Friends of Pachaug Forest.
  • Kettletown State Park
    • Where: 1400 George’s Hill Rd., Southbury, CT; Meet at the trailhead for Miller Trail. Drive into the park, takeevery right fork to the trailhead.
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details: Moderate, 2-mile hike. This hike will offer views of much of the tornado damage from May 2018. Bring water, snack, sturdy footwear, and a sense of adventure. Dogs on leash allowed.
    • Cancellation: (203) 264-9028.
    • Contact: Bob McGarry, bernieandbob@charter.net.
    • Sponsor: Connecticut Forest & Park Association
  • Mansfield Hollow State Park
    • Where: Bassett’s Bridge Rd., Mansfield, CT; Meet in the Mansfield Hollow Recreation Area parking lot.
    • When: 11 a.m. (arrive by 10:45 a.m.)
    • Details: Moderate, 2 hikes – 4.5 mile & 2.2 mile, the 4.5 hike is more difficult. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water and a snack. Dogs on leash allowed.
    • Contact: Debbie Tedford datedfordct@gmail.com.
    • Sponsor: Friends of Mansfield Hollow.
  • Peoples State Forest, Matthies Grove Picnic Area
    • Where: 106 East River Rd., Barkhamsted, CT
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Intermediate hike. This loop hike will start on the Robert Ross Trail. Bring water, snacks, snowshoes, cleats or microspikes if weather dictates, otherwise boots. No dogs, please. Hike will be cancelled if there is freezing rain or downpour.
    • Cancellation: Details Here
    • Contact: Ralph Scarpino, ctfalps@gmail.com or (860) 921-1756. Sponsor: The Friends of American Legion and Peoples State Forests (FALPS).
  • Scantic River State Park
    • Where: Melrose Road, East Windsor, CT; Meet in parking area at end of Melrose Road off Broad Brook Road.
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details: Moderate, 2.5 mile hike, 2 hours. Donations will be collected for the local food pantry (human and pet items). Dogs on leash welcome.
    • Contact: Debbie Talamini, ahriver@sbcglobal.net.
    • Sponsor: East Windsor American Heritage River Commission.
  • Sessions Woods, Sky’s the Limit Hike
    • Where: 341 Milford St., Burlington CT
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details: Hike will follow the Beaver Pond Trail and Forest Meadow Trail. Between 60 and 90 minutes. Dogs on leash welcome. Join us for cocoa in the Conservation Education Center afterwards. The awards ceremony for the Sky’s the Limit winners will begin at approximately 3 p.m.
    • Contact: @CTStateParks on Twitter.
    • Sponsor: Connecticut State Parks.
  • Sleeping Giant State Park
    • Where: 200 Mt. Carmel Ave. Hamden, CT; Meet at kiosk at main parking lot on Mt. Carmel Avenue.
    • When: 1:30 p.m.
    • Details: Moderate 3-4 mile hike. No pets. Bring snacks and water, hiking boots and clothing appropriate for weather. Hike status information can be found at www.sgpa.org.
  • Sunrise State Park
    • Where: Route 151, Leesville Road, East Haddam, CT; Meet in the Machimoodus Parking Lot
    • When: 1 p.m.
    • Details Easy to moderate. The trail is wide but can be steep in some places. Hike is approximately 2 hours. Will pass by and through fields, tall evergreens and woodlands. Picturesque scene, perfect photo opportunity. Leashed dogs welcome. Wear appropriate footwear and bring water.
    • Contact: machsunfriends@gmail.com or Friends of Machimoodus Sunrise Facebook Page
    • Sponsor: Friends of Machimoodus-Sunrise State Parks
  • Topsmead State Forest
    • Where: Buell Road, Litchfield, CT; Meet at parking lot by State of Connecticut sign.
    • When: 10 a.m.
    • Details: Easy hike approximately 2 miles. Bring water and snowshoe if needed. Dogs on leash welcome.
    • Contact: Bruce Baldwin (860) 921-6374.
    • Sponsor: Friends of Topsmead State Forest.

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