The Long and Short of Hiking in Fairfield County
by Cornelia Fortier, Contributing Editor
We've walked away the winter on a treadmill but with spring about to pop, it's time to test our endurance outside, on Fairfield County's hiking trails. As the natural world re-awakens, we can watch its unfolding while wending our way through a variety of pristine environments. Since nature sets the incline and degree of difficulty, all we have to do is lace up our hiking boots and hit our stride.
Rogers Elton Park, Frenchtown Road, Bridgeport, 203-576-7233. Off of Exit 48 on the Merritt, approximately 73 acres wound through with hiking and biking trails.
St. Mary's By-the Sea, Grovers Avenue, Bridgeport, 203-576-7233. Nine acres with hiking trails in a unique neighborhood.
Montgomery Pinetum, Bible Street, Cos Cob, 203-869-9242. A registered historic site with 100 varieties of conifers, its 102 acre park has trails through the woods.
Bear Mt. Reservation, Bear Mountain Road, Danbury, 2860-424-3200. Hiking trails with views of Candlewood Lake.
Stony Brook Woods, Park Ledge Road, Darien, 203-656-7325. 11 acres with a pond, a lake and hiking trails throughout.
The Aspetuck Land Trust, 860/424-3000. 1,700 undisturbed acres in 4 towns, Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport with walking paths and scenic hiking trails that pass lakes, ponds and orchards. Maps are available online at www.aspetucklandtrust.org.
CT Audubon Society Nature Center, 2325 Burr Road, Fairfield, 203-259-0416. The 160 acre Larsen Sanctuary offers trails through wooded areas and circling ponds.
CT Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary, 314 Unquowa Road, Fairfield, 203-259-0416. Six acres with walking trails as well as a natural history museum.
Audubon Center of Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, 203-869-5272. 7 miles of walking trails traverse this 285 acre nature sanctuary in Greenwich's back country.
The 8.7 mile Paugussett Trail begins in Indian Well State Park, Shelton and four miles along, crosses into Monroe's Webb Mountain Park. For the intrepid not afraid of a little rock scrambling, hilltop views of Lake Zoar and the Stevenson Dam reveal themselves. Indian Well is on Rte. 110, Shelton.
New Canaan Nature Center, 144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, 203-966-9577. 40 acres with trails as well as a garden and an arboretum.
Cranbury Park, Cranbury Road, Norwalk, 203-854-7806. A 190 acre park with hiking trails and biking trails.
Collis P. Huntington, Route 58 to Sunset Hill Road, Redding. 878 acres feature mature shade trees, 5 ponds and horseback riders as scenery.
Putnam Memorial Park, Route 58, three miles south of Bethel, 203/938-2285. 183 acres where the Continental Army made camp in the winter of 1779. Buildings, statues and other markers are historic sights along the way.
Ridgefield Rail Trail, Prospect Street to Branchville, Ridgefield,203-431-2700. A 2 mile trail built by Connecticut Light & Power on the abandoned rail corridor it owns.
Seth Low Pierrepont State Park Reserve, Barlow Mountain Road off of Route 116, Ridgefield, 203-938-2285. 305 acres, with parking at the entrance. Its trails offer views of many habitats and scenic overlooks.
Bartlett Arboretum, 151 Brookdale Road, Stamford, 203-322-6971. 63 acres with walks in different environments, including woodlands, swamps and around a pond.
Mianus River Park, off Westover Road, Stamford, 203-977-4140. Close to 220 acres with walking and hiking routes as well as fishing. Off Exit 33 on the Merritt Parkway.
Stamford Museum and Nature Center, 39 Scofield Road and Rte. 137, Stamford, 203-322-1646. 118 acres with woodland trails and a working farm.
Roosevelt Forest, 159 North Peters Lane, Stratford 203-385-4000. A network of hiking trails crisscross this 250 acre town park.
Housatonic Rail Trail, Whitney Avenue, Trumbull 203-331-9696. Over 5 miles of walking and hiking trails with lots of natural scenery.
Devil's Den Preserve, Pent Road, Weston, 203-226-4991. The Nature Conservancy's Devil's Den has over 20 miles of hiking trails and frequent guided walks.
Katharine Ordway Preserve, 165 Goodhill Road, Weston, 203-226-4991. 3 miles of hiking trails cut through this 62 acre preserve and an arboretum.
Sherwood Island State Park, 2 miles south of Westport off of Exit 18 on I-95, 203-226-6983. 234 acres with 1.5 miles of beach front with extraordinary water views. Sherwood Island also has a nature trail.
Weir Farm, 75 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, 203-834-1896. Connecticut's only national park, its 60 acres, with open fields and gardens, have inspired artists of more than one century.
Woodcock Nature Center, 56 Deer Run Rd., Wilton, 203-762-7280. Located on the Wilton/Ridgefield border, these 146 acres offer miles of easy hiking trails which stretch out beside historic stone walls and stands of old maple, beech, oak and hickory.