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.

RAVEN'S WOODSEast Lyme Nestled at the end of a quiet street in the shoreline town of East Lyme, sits an unassuming parcel of land most would never know exists. But, the 22-acre park known as Raven's Woods is a great find for the casual hiker, walker and even bicyclist. Looking for a quick morning jaunt, I arrived at the small lot along Brainerd Road with one of my dogs - Sampson. The entrance leads straight into the woods among a variety of pine, oak and other trees. The main artery of this trail system is also wide and well-defined. But what truly struck me, entering this small grove, is how quiet it is. Sounds from the ‘outside' world are virtually cut off here, despite the close proximity to nearby homes. Within moments of my trek, I could hear the babble of water from a stream nearby and soon came across a small bridge that spans the waterway. Here, the trail breaks off in a few different directions. There are two that are defined - one red and one white. I took the white trail that follows the stream onto its journey into the marsh. The view from here is a pretty one, marred only by a couple of pieces of litter seen stuck to the reeds. The path eventually snakes away from the water and heads deeper into the woods. Here, it crosses again with the red trail which I decided to take on a whim. Among the trees, old stone walls dot the landscape, marking boundaries from the distant past. Randomly-placed picnic tables also pepper the area, for those wanting to take a breather. Of course, Sampson – my dog - would have none of that and kept me committed to the trail we were on. That path eventually reconnected to the white-blazed route and back to the bridge. But, another unmarked trail leading past the bridge beckoned. This path was easy to follow, but felt fairly insulated with trees and shrubs that crowded the trail. As I headed back to the bridge, I also passed additional offshoots leading to the water's edge that I took the time to explore. It was a great way to round out my hike. And, after getting my morning fill, I headed back to the parking lot, grateful I took the time to explore this tranquil spot along the shoreline. Directions: Take I-95 to Exit 72 toward Rocky Neck State Park. Continue on Rocky Neck Connector. Turn left onto CT-156 E. Turn right onto Fairhaven Rd. Turn right onto Brainerd Rd. Parking is on the right at the end of the road. Trail Difficulty: Easy Trail Distance: 1+ mile

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