Between enduring 12+ weeks of quarantine and the summer season upon us, we’re all itching to get outside. Since moving here from Washington state, I miss the mountains and accessibility to hiking trails and national parks. Here in New England, you have to travel a bit further for that (i.e. White Mountains in New Hampshire or Acadia National Park in Maine). All that being said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the local trails right here in our backyard. From historic farms to coastline trails, Groton has some great parks to explore.
*Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we encourage you to visit the websites for the latest information, hours of operation and other precautions.
Here are five great parks to visit (all of which are dog-friendly with free parking):
Certainly not “hidden,” Bluff Point is one of Groton’s most popular parks. The coastal reserve offers wooded hiking, biking trails and spectacular wildlife viewing on the Long Island Sound. Fun fact: Bluff Point is the last remaining piece of undeveloped land along the Connecticut coastline, measuring 1.5 miles long, encompassing over 800 acres.
I stumbled upon Haley Farm State Park with my mother-in-law, and it was a sweet surprise. Tucked behind Groton and Mystic, Haley Farm rests on beautiful Colonial-era farmland, now open for public recreation. The shoreline park is dotted with stone walls, homestead rocks and ruins. Haley Farm starts with a dirt gravel trail through the woods, and connects to a nice, paved .8 mile trail popular for bikers. The park is dog-friendly and semi-stroller friendly. Parking is limited, so go early!
When my husband and I first moved to Groton, we were desperate for a decent dog park. Copp Family Park was just the ticket! Located along Gold Star Highway, Copp Family Park has more than two miles of loop trails in a lush, forest setting. The trails are used for hiking, walking and running. The park is also home to the “Central Bark Dog Park,” a fenced off-leash dog park with a separate small dog area.
Sheep Farm is a 63 acre property located at the top of Hazelnut Hill Road, a historic farmstead dating back to the 18th century. The park features a diverse habitat of rocky outcroppings, meadows, deep forests, extensive wetlands and two waterfalls. The park has a 1-mile moderately trafficked loop trail, good for all skill levels and dogs.
For a longer trail, check out the Merritt Family Forest Loop. The lightly trafficked three-mile loop is part of the X-Town Trail and features beautiful wild flowers and ample bird and wildlife viewing. During the winter the trail is open for snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.
Any other parks we should add to the list? Comment below!