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.
It's not every day a visit with Santa turns into a walk in the park. But, that's exactly what happened for myself and my family at Manchester's Wickham Park.
Visiting Santa is a tradition many families hold dear during this time of year. And for a window of time, you can find him and his elves hosting children of all ages for a free, Christmas experience at the park that continues to grow year after year.
It also allows people an opportunity to check out the park's small trail system. It includes a Fitness Trail and a hike through the Bird Sanctuary. But, for its easy access, I took this opportunity to check out what's known as the Wetlands Garden.
It lies just inside the park's main entrance and is marked with a large kiosk that outlines the .6 mile trail. Created in 2005, it helped to replace wetlands impacted by the construction of I-291 and is described as the most natural of the gardens that adorn the park.
So, my oldest daughter and I set out to explore the simple trail. Boardwalks make up a good portion of the path, with gravel peppering the rest. Short and distinctive, the self-guided trail leads visitors to ponds and wetland landscapes important to the area.
My 10-year-old found the signage regarding the native plantings informative. The variety in landscape also kept her entertained. And, spotting the tracks left behind by deer and wild turkeys on the soft gravel beneath our feet, was also an added treat.
No bones about it, you clearly won't break a sweat walking this trail. But, it does give families a quick reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the holiday rush. It's also a chance to explore a park that normally charges an entrance fee during its April – October season.
So, after nibbling on Mrs. Claus' cookies, consider taking this brief detour to round out your day. But, there isn't much time. Santa wraps up his special appearance December 23rd and be sure to log on to www.wickhampark.org for times.
I-91 S to I-291 E, take exit 5. Take right at end of exit and go to second stop sign. Take left onto Longhill Drive. Go straight through stop sign, at light take left onto Burnside Ave. Park entrance about a mile on the left.
I-91 N to I-84 E to exit 60. Left at light. Straight at next light. Park entrance 150 yards on right.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: .6 miles