When the weather is nice, enjoy a family-friendly and budget-friendly day out hiking along Connecticut’s nature trails. Though hiking trails abound throughout Connecticut parks, not all of them are the most accessible for little legs, strollers, or beginners, and longer hikes can get too tiring. However, Connecticut also has a wealth of trails perfect for families with babies in a carrier or stroller, toddlers exploring their environment, school-aged children curious about the world around them, and tweens needing a break from their electronic devices. Check out these five great hiking trails in the Nutmeg State.
White Memorial Conservation Center is a 4,000-acre property with trails, events, and an educational center. Though there are many other trails at the White Memorial Conservation Center, the Little Pond Boardwalk is recommended for those pushing a stroller as this boardwalk can be reached by car and is wide enough to permit a stroller. Other trails are appropriate for toddlers through teens and lead to interesting sights such as an avian enclosure and pollinator garden. Little learners will be able to study their environment along the Interpretive Nature Trail, or families can check the events calendar online for weeks offering free museum admission or educational walks guided by a scientist.
This excellent education center has 10 miles of hiking trails, some easy and some more difficult. Near the nature center, visitors will find some boardwalk trails leading to a duck pond. There is also an easy-to-reach butterfly garden. The Forest Loop is great for jogging with a stroller, and curious kids will pass through fields, woodland, marshes, ponds, and streams. Older children will enjoy the Ledge Trail, which features rock overlooks and wooded wetlands. Do remember to watch out for poison ivy (and/or wash with a bar of laundry soap after) and check for ticks after returning home.
The lovely Haley Farm State Park has both short and long trails, several of which are appropriate for strollers. A very short .8-mile bike trail is great for toddlers and a grassy open space is also great for kids who need to spend some energy running. The grassy area is also perfect for blowing bubbles, playing catch, or making daisy chains. Little naturalists will be able to keep a look out for wild birds, pond critters, and colorful wildflowers.
Can your kids spot the sleeping giant? Create a fun activity by seeing which angle is best to spot Connecticut’s very own giant. Perfect for beginners and little legs, a 1.5-mile-long trail stretches up the sleeping giant—Mt. Carmel—to an observation tower, providing views of surrounding Connecticut scenery and Long Island Sound. Sleeping Giant State Park is also picnic-friendly and offers picnic tables, picnic shelters, and bathroom facilities. Families will also be happy to hear that it is free to visit Sleeping Giant State Park (as well as all the other parks on this list)!
Devil’s Hopyard State Park is a really fun option for kids who are into geology and/or legends. Kids will note the round holes in the rocks by the falls, which were thought to have been created by the devil burning holes in the stone with his hooves because his tail got wet in the falls. Despite the interesting myth, the potholes are now known to be created due to currents creating depressions in the rocks. Following a sufficient exploration of the waterfall, families will be able to enjoy several relatively easy hiking trails leading to scenic views. A picnic area, pavilion, toilet facilities, and other amenities are also available at Devil’s Hopyard. Do keep in mind that hunting is allowed in designated areas in season, so it is best to dress yourself and your family in brightly colored clothing.