State Reserve Offers Hikers, Boaters Peaceful Setting - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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State Reserve Offers Hikers, Boaters Peaceful Setting

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Garter snake sunning itself on the trail (WFSB) Garter snake sunning itself on the trail (WFSB)
Mono Pond as seen from the trail (WFSB) Mono Pond as seen from the trail (WFSB)
Sampson takes a walk on the trail at Mono Pond. (WFSB) Sampson takes a walk on the trail at Mono Pond. (WFSB)
COLUMBIA, CT (WFSB) -

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.


Mono Pond State Park Reserve


Columbia

Tucked among the bucolic setting of Columbia's farmland and down a winding residential road, sits Mono Pond State Park Reserve. It's a wonderfully quiet place that can offer hikers and other visitors a sense of solitude and peace.

Perhaps not as well-known as Columbia Lake, the park still offers many options for people to connect with nature. The reserve, managed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in conjunction with the town of Columbia, is large - covering 218 acres of both land and water.

The pond, although shallow in parts, allows boats - as long as they don't go over the 8-mph limit.  Fishing here is popular as well.  And, there is bow hunting, but only in the fall, a fact that put me at ease as I set off on the trail before me.

The yellow-blazed path begins behind the information board that stands in the parking lot off Hunt Road. It is well-defined and easy to follow, although a bit soggy due to downpours earlier in the week.

With my dog Sampson as a companion we carefully navigated the trail. We were by far the loudest intruders in this protective outdoor setting. But, within minutes, the ‘real' world just slipped away – with even my dog seeming at ease here.

Along the way, we passed stone walls standing as age-old reminders of the farms that once graced this landscape. And, chattering birds kept us company as we walked deeper into the woods.

Within a half mile, I had a choice to make - to loop back around the yellow trail or to continue on the red which follows parallel to the pond's banks. I chose the latter, curious on what I would see as I wandered further along.

And, what I did find was markedly different. The trek here was a bit rougher and wetter. There are parts mired in a mix of mud, rocks and water. Part of it, no doubt, accentuated by the recent rains.

Trail blazers did see fit to place fieldstones on portions of the trail to help maneuver across the trickiest parts. And, random rocks also make it easier to cross streams without getting your feet soaked.

There are several opportunities to walk down to the water for a better view here as well. And, as you near the end of the main inlet, it's well worth the time. Here, the singing birds turned it up a notch as they flittered in and out of the brush. I also witnessed a pair of Canadian geese commandeering the pond's marsh – calling out to each other as they stood among the grasses.

At the pond's end, the red trail follows a short loop before returning back to its original path. It was here I spotted a two-footed garter snake sunning itself on some leaves. The harmless snake lay perfectly still as we stepped around it and made our way back.

Yet another reminder that wildlife is at arm's reach if you just take the time to look and listen.

Directions: Traveling from the east, take CT-66 E. Take a right onto Hunt Rd. Traveling from the west, take CT-66 W. Take a left onto Hunt Rd. Parking is on the right.

Trail Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Trail Distance: 2 miles