Since childhood, my love of the outdoors has always been a part of me. And as an adult, I hope to share that passion with my own children.
So, I offered this challenge to my family, to join me in exploring the hidden treasures and more popular gems Connecticut and the surrounding region have to offer.From hiking to biking to kayaking, I hope my window into the outside world inspires you to explore as well.
Riverfront Park in Portland
Sometimes just taking a break from the hustle of our busy lives is enough incentive to head outdoors.
And I found a brisk trek along the Connecticut River in Portland is all it took.
With only 30-minutes to burn, I headed out one morning to Portland's Riverfront Park. The entrance is vast, leading from a huge parking lot that opens up to a field. It's located down the road from the popular Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park where the town's famed brownstone once was quarried and is recognized as a national historic landmark. That connection is quite clear as you enter the park's realm.
Used by school and town groups on a regular basis, the park features a handful of trails that explore the scenic setting. Huge pieces of brownstone dot the landscape greeting visitors early on. On the right, sits a stage that once housed a storage building used by the quarry years ago to house dynamite. On the left, even more scattered stones reach towards the river's edge. Known as the jumping rocks, these ‘rejected' quarry pieces beckon for kids to climb all over them as a way to interact with the environment.
Don't forget to take a look at the view though. Portland has more land abutting the Connecticut River than any other town in the state and this is a great vantage point to appreciate it. Meanwhile, as you continue down the path, you'll see a pavilion appear to the right. Then, the trail leads deeper into the woods. Keeping straight brings hikers parallel to the river and other vantage points along the way. So, take a moment if you can.
But, with time at a premium, I headed right to explore deeper into the wooded areas around me.
Surrounded by trees, the leaf-littered Pine Trail is spacious and perfect for walking the dog or heading out with the kids. Varieties of hickory, oak, and dogwood also pepper the trails that dart out in different directions.
Turn left, and you go deeper into the 40-acre park. Turn right and you head back to the field and the adjacent parking lot. It may seem quick, but it is a worthwhile trip even if just to escape for a moment.
Directions: Take Route 66 east across the Arrigoni Bridge. Take a right on Main Street just after the bridge. Take a right on Brownstone Avenue. Follow to the end. If taking Route 66 west, turn right before heading over the bridge. Take a right on Main Street. Take a right on Brownstone Avenue.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Length: 1 – 2 miles
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