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.
From the Mattabassett to the Metacomet, hikers have many trails to choose from in the town of Berlin. But, sometimes it's the little-known corners of your world that can prove to be just as enjoyable.
It was the case this time around, as I concentrated my efforts on an unassuming trail system tucked behind the New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park.
Located in the Kensington section of Berlin, the museum is a wonderful place for families to visit. I volunteered here years ago, caring for the many exotic and farm animals that live here. But, I never took the initiative to walk the meandering trails the property has to offer, until now.
It's not always easy finding a trail that has a little something for everyone. But, this one does. Many of the paths here cater to a young child's short attention span, while still satisfying an adult's curiosity.
Dogs are welcome too. Under the map kiosk, located at the back of the parking lot, sits a water bowl to prep your four-legged companion on its journey. The map itself also gives a good indication on how to manage a hike of your own.
After a brief review, I decided to head out on the Yellow Trail which encompasses the outer border of the property. It's a good 30-minute hike that can be a bit tiresome for the little ones. But, there are plenty of other paths to take that are shorter and more manageable for children.
Setting off on my journey, I followed the stone and dirt path that leads behind the barnyard. On one side of the path, I passed the resident farm animals milling around in their outdoor pens. While, on the other side of the trail, a frozen pond greeted me in my descent deeper into the woods.
Despite the starkness of the small forest, I found small signs of life bubbling up around me. Sensing my presence, birds, chipmunks, and squirrels zigzagged ahead of me as I trampled on the dry leaves that still coat the trail. Among the leaves were also patches of ice I made a point to sidestep in order to prevent a fall.
As I neared the back end of the loop, I came upon the pleasant sounds of the small brook running parallel to the trail. But, with the naked trees devoid of most leaves, the water's gentle babble was soon drowned out by the cars on the busy road just beyond.
As the trail began to loop back towards its starting point, the sounds of traffic started to subside once again. Here, the path became hillier as I made my way deeper into the woods. However, I found I was never too far from suburbia. In spots, I saw homes poking through the tree line and heard dogs barking in the distance.
Surprisingly, such proximity to the ‘real world' wasn't as intrusive as I would have imagined, as I began to wind down my lively hike. And soon, I found myself back by the small pond; ending the day satisfied that I took this simple, but enjoyable trek -- all on a morning whim.
Directions: Take CT-9 N. Merge onto CT-571 via Exit 24 toward CT-71/CT-372/Kensington. Turn left onto High Road/CT-71A/CT-372. Take first left onto Farmington Ave./CT-372. The park is located on the left at 191 Farmington Ave.
Length: Approximately .5 - 1.5 miles