Top 6 Local Hiking Gems

Clark Pond at the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve

Tara Smith, Junior Editor

Bundle up and take a step away from the screens, the internet, and the news. If you are seeking solitude in nature to escape the pressures, stresses, and anxieties of today’s world, this is a list of the top six local hiking spots. 

  1. Bluff Point State Park 

The 6th best hiking spot is Bluff Point State Park located in Groton, CT at 55 Depot Road. The coastal reserve trail is an easy 3.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. In the spring season, the trail features beautiful wildflowers and in the fall the fallen leaves coat the trail with beautiful orange, yellow, and red hues. There are many spots along the trail where views of the ocean are available. The public is allowed to climb and walk on the rocky shore, as well as on the beaches located in the park. Dogs are allowed at Bluff Point, but they must be leashed. This trail would be a very good beginner introduction to hiking as there is no major incline or strenuous activity.

  1. Hartman Park

Number 5 is Hartman Park located in Lyme, CT at 122 Gungy Road. This town park has 5 trails to be explored. They have many informational plaques along the way talking about old stone structures and what the area used to look like. There is a pond that has two beaver dams for those who wish to spot some wildlife. The trails range from easy to moderate levels. The trails are dog and kid-friendly. There are many wood bridges to cross over on multiple trails to stay away from the muddy parts of the trail. This trail is beautiful in the fall season with the fall foliage.

  1. Rocky Neck State Park

Rocky Neck State Park secures the number 4 spot, located in Niantic, CT at 244 W Main Street. This park offers trails ranging from easy to moderate. The trails are very diverse and take you through the different areas of the woods and marshland. At the end of your hike, there is a long stretch of beach with a boardwalk for relaxation. This is a dog and kid-friendly trail system. There is an outlook where views of the sound and train tracks are available. 

  1. Chatfield Hollow State Park

Coming at number 3 is Chatfield Hollow State Park. This park is located in Killingworth, CT on 381 CT-80. This park has numerous trails that go all around the park. In total, there are eight trails throughout the park. These trails range from easy to moderate and are kid and dog friendly. There are no major inclines or strenuous lengths of the trails. The park has two ponds as well as a trail that leads to a set of caves that hikers can go in and climb to. There is a covered bridge and a water wheel in the park. 

  1. Devil’s Hopyard State Park
Top of the vista at Devil’s Hopyard State Park

Devil’s Hopyard State Park is a very popular park locally and for good reason. Holding the number 2 spot, the park is located in East Haddam, CT on 366 Hopyard Road. This park offers 7 great nature hiking trails ranging from moderate to easy. The most popular trails are the Vista and Devil’s Oven trail which have beautiful views and rock structures. There is a river that goes through the park and a waterfall that attracts lots of people every year. This is a beautiful place to visit in the fall and summertime time because of the fall foliage and the hiking experiences it offers.

  1. Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve

Number one is Oswegatchie Hills Nature preserve, which is truly a local gem. This system of trails is located in Niantic, CT on 8 Memorial Park Drive. This nature preserve has four trails that can be hiked. There is a gorgeous pond at the beginning of the trail system. Three out of the four trails are moderate and the other is easy. This is a wonderful hiking spot for dogs and kids. It is a quick drive if you live locally and the trails are marked very easily with not only color markers but also names of the trails and maps along the way.