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 lakeside to hillside, Crescent Lake in Southington stands as a beacon for anglers and hikers alike.
Tucked away near the Plainville border, the lake, once known as the Plainville Reservoir, lies in the middle of a 223-acre site that sits on the cusp of Bradley Mountain. Several trails meander through the property. But, it was a combination of paths that vowed shoreline views and a mountain top vista that looked the most promising.
I took my dog Murphy along for this particular trip. And, with a quick glance at the faded map on the kiosk, we set off from the parking lot and took to the red trail.
As we followed the banks of the lake, we passed quite a few fishermen methodically casting their rods in the water. It's a popular spot for anglers with high hopes of a decent catch. But, the water is quite a draw for hikers as well with plenty of shortcuts leading to its banks.
The dirt trail we were on, peppered with tree roots, quickly begins to narrow as it winds its way around the lake's perimeter. There are pieces of litter that pepper the woods early on. But, these remnants become scarcer the further along you go.
The orange trail that leads up the mountain also shares part of its trek with the red, before breaking off and heading away from the water. The trek is rockier and steeper here, so expect to exert a lot more energy making the climb. It becomes even more challenging when the path joins with the blue, Metacomet trail for a stretch.
With elevations closing in on 600 feet, we neared the top of the mountain and came across a large fireplace. The stone structure is a beautiful work of masonry and looked as if it had been recently used. But, the true star of this mountain hike, was what awaited us at top. And, the vista, here, doesn't disappoint.
Large boulders at this outlook make for easy watching. The shimmering lake from far below is a dramatic compliment to the busy modern landscape along the horizon. But, even at this height, the distant hum of traffic filters through. But, oddly enough, it isn't distracting.
After getting my fill, Murphy and I carefully picked our way down the mountain. Jagged rocks on this narrow path made the trek slow at first. But, we managed in due time. However, for those looking to roam some more - other trails - many unmarked, weave their way through the forest.
We stayed steadfast on our mission and followed the orange trail downhill. On the final leg of the hike, the path levels off, but enters an extremely narrow and heavily-forested stretch.
It's something out of - dare I say - Jurassic World, with layer upon layer of green and lush foliage. Any minute I expected dinosaurs to crash through the brush. But, neither they nor Chris Pratt ever made an appearance.
That's alright. The scenery is still stunning to see. Before long, we left the woods behind and found ourselves on the banks of the lake again – skirting a small dam on the way back to the lot.
And as we made our way through this final stretch, I was very much aware -- that just as the mountain is the hiker's domain – anglers hold dominion over this lake. Still dotting the shore, these fishermen stand patient and true waiting for that perfect catch – showing the same diligence we did climbing that near-perfect mountain.
Directions: Take CT-9 S to Exit 28-28A for CT-72 W. Continue on CT-72 W for three miles. Continue onto CT-72 W/I-84. Take Exit 33 for CT-72 W toward Bristol. Keep right to continue on Exit 2. Follow signs for CT-372/New Britain Ave./Plainville. Turn right onto CT-372 E/New Britain Ave. Turn right onto Crooked St. Turn right onto Woodford Ave. Turn left onto Ledge Road. Slight left onto Shuttle Meadow Rd. Take a left into the parking lot.
Trail Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Mileage: 2.5 miles