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.
WHITE MEMORIAL CONSERVATION CENTER
Tucked away in the Litchfield hills, the 4,000-acre White Memorial Conservation Center has a history steeped in the numerous folds of the land it sits on.
For more than 100 years, it has attracted hundreds of thousands of people to its home. And with 40 miles of trails, the possibilities of what you can see are endless.
I wanted to experience a small slice of this wonder and chose a fairly easy, but scenic trek along the Little Pond/Boardwalk Trail. So, with my youngest daughter in tow, we headed out.
It is easy to see why this is such a popular place. Even on a mid-week morning, cars were lined up on side roads delivering visitors to entry points all over the park. Each spot has detailed kiosks that map out the entire forest region while wide trails greet visitors wanting to revel in its quiet spaces.
We reached the black and white-marked path to Little Pond via a short detour on the Mattatuck Trail. Clearing the forest and shaded path, we spotted the boardwalk which surrounds Little Pond and its wetland environment.
We were quickly engulfed by the heavily-scented rose bushes and summer wildflowers that line the trail. The boards sit about a foot off the ground giving us a true perspective of life among this special habitat. Song birds fluttered among us as we made our way further in. And, our senses were heightened by the sounds of waterfowl flying above.
Hiking isn’t the only way to explore this habitat. As we crossed a bridge over the Bantam River, we came upon a trio of kayakers gliding by – enjoying the view from a different perspective.
Although easy to maneuver, the loop around the pond is extensive. Built in the 1960s, the boardwalk itself covers more than a mile of the trek. And, the walkway is taken care of - on a seemingly regular basis - with new boards shoring up any wear and tear.
The final leg of the boardwalk loop gives hikers an expansive view of the pond, while surrounding cattails sway lazily in the swell of summer heat. Once we returned to the shade of the forest, we retraced our steps back to the car - a little sad to leave this unique Connecticut treasure behind.
Directions: Take I-84 W to exit 20. Merge onto CT-8 N toward Torrington. Take exit 38 toward US-6 W/CT-109/CT-254/Thomaston. Turn left onto Waterbury Rd. Turn left onto US-6 W. Take right onto CT-109 W. Turn right onto CT-63 N. Turn left onto Webster Rd. Turn right onto Mattatuck Trail/Whites Wood Rd. Turn left onto White Wood Rd. Park along the road at the kiosk entry point.
Trail Distance: 2.5 miles
Trail Difficulty: Easy