One of the best places to enjoy the outdoors on a hot summer day is in the shade and serenity of the forest. In Connecticut, forests are never too far away since approximately 55 percent of the state is forested. In fact, a greater percentage of Connecticut residents (72 percent) live within half a mile of our forests than in any other state in the nation.
Our Connecticut forests are abundant and we love them, but not everyone knows how to explore them. All personal biases aside, I suggest that one of the very best ways is along the 825 miles of blue-blazed hiking trails (also known as “blue trails”) criss-crossing the state primarily through forests in 88 towns.
My organization, the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA), created the blue-blazed hiking trails system in 1929 and today, a small dedicated army of volunteers maintain these trails for your benefit. All of the trails are free, but not everyone knows where to find them despite their presence in 88 towns.
In New Haven, about 3 miles from CFE headquarters, you can access the Regicides blue-blazed hiking trail that winds through West Rock Ridge State Park. You can drive to the summit to access the South Overlook and Judges Cave (named for Edward Whalley and William Goffe, two of the 59 judges who signed the death warrant of Charles I of England in 1649 and then fled to the New Haven Colony when Charles II ascended to the throne in 1660), or you can walk from the Westville neighborhood access through Amrhyn Field on Valley Street. Here’s a video featuring the Regicides Trail that highlights the connections between this trail and New Haven.
If you’d like to continue your journey along the Regicides trail (about 7 miles from one end to another), you can connect with the Quinnipiac Trail in Hamden. The Quinnipiac Trail has the distinction of being the first of the blue-blazed hiking trails. It is 24 miles long and connects through several special places such as Quinnipiac River State Park, Sleeping Giant State Park, and the Naugatuck State Forest.
As they say, the longest (or shortest) journey starts with a single step. Get outside and enjoy Connecticut!
This guest post was written by Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association