You don't have to venture far to explore the great outdoors. Hartford County is home to five Connecticut State Parks where you can walk, hike, bike, fish, swim and more. There's even a park that preserves ancient dinosaur tracks and an historic observation tower that provides panoramic views of the Hartford city skyline and the Farmington Valley.
Best of all, several of these state parks are open free. The next time you find yourself spending a few too many hours in the office, make a point of planning a visit to one of the Greater Hartford area's preserved outdoor spaces.
Dinosaur State Park - Rocky Hill, Connecticut
Dinosaur State Park is the site of one of North America's largest collections of dinosaur tracks--left behind by Connecticut dinosaurs about 200 million years ago. In addition to viewing the tracks, you can also explore the property's nature trails, which are open free to the public.
Activities: Walking, Hiking, Picnicking, Dinosaur Track Viewing and Casting
Admission: Admission to the grounds is free. Admission to the exhibition building is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and under.
Directions: Take Exit 23 off I-91 in Rocky Hill. Proceed east on West Street for about one mile to the park entrance on the right. You can't miss the geodesic dome, which houses the collection of dino tracks.
For information, call: 860-529-8423
Penwood State Park - Bloomfield, Connecticut
The nearly 800 acres given to the state in 1944 by Curtis H. Veeder are a picturesque place to spend time in the great outdoors. Veeder and his wife, Louise, blazed many trails through the property, and a section of the Blue Blazed Trail system known as "The Metacomet" also cuts through this public park. A Nature Trail encircles Lake Louise.
Activities: Walking, Hiking, Picnicking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing
Directions: From I-91, take Exit 35B for Bloomfield/Route 218 (Cottage Grove Road). Follow Cottage Grove Road west to Route 185. Follow Route 185 toward Simsbury. The entrance to Penwood State Park is on the right at the top of a hill. From Route 44, turn north onto Routes 10 and 202 in the center of Avon. In Simsbury, take Route 185 toward Bloomfield. The entrance to Penwood State Park is on the left at the top of a hill.
For information, call: 860-242-1158
Salmon River State Forest - Colchester, Connecticut
The Salmon River State Forest is nearly 6,000 acres in size, but it is the river that flows through it that attracts most visitors to this recreation area. The Salmon River, which joins the Connecticut River near East Haddam, is known for its trout fishing. Other recreational opportunities abound, including hiking and mountain biking trails.
Activities: Walking, Hiking, Picnicking, Fishing, Hunting, Cross-Country Skiing, Letterboxing
Directions: From Route 2 East, take Exit 16 and follow Route 149 South for 3.2 miles. The State Forest will be on the left. From Route 2 West, take exit 18 and follow Route 16 West for 6.2 miles. The State Forest will be on the left.
For information, call: 860-295-9523Next Page: More Hartford County State Parks