While Huntington State Park's wide trails and gorgeous break spots make this a go-to place for bikers and horseback riders, it best caters to the hikers who are looking for an afternoon long, choose-your-own-adventure style experience.
Opened to the public in 1973, this massive state park is the former backyard of the famed CT native, Collis P. Huntington. His wife sculpted on site while his children played on the trails and in an old steamboat, now allegedly sunken somewhere beneath the park's Lake Hopewell. While the park's wide trails and gorgeous break spots make this a go-to place for bikers and horseback riders, it best caters to the hikers who are looking for an afternoon long, choose-your-own-adventure style experience.
What Makes It Great
Sporting entrances from three different CT towns, and with the outermost Aspetuck Valley Trail ranging 5.5 miles, Huntington is one BIG park. Fork-ways galore fill the trails, forcing the hikers to consistently return to forge themselves a different path. Massive camel-hump hills, shaded swamps, and a tranquil lake complete with a small island, are just a few of the diverse sights that a visitor could stumble into. Despite being so twisted, the park is cleanly laid out, and it never feels as if you're in danger of getting lost. Furthermore, the park is quick to award the hiker, so there's always a potential “climax” nearby if you're thinking it's about time to head back. The previously mentioned Lake Hopewell, along with the nearby East and West Lagoons are the sites biggest attractions, as it's wide-open view and grassy areas are a fantastic place to stop and eat that sandwich you packed.
But it's not only the break spots that get diverse. The trails themselves range from incredibly easy, nearly flat areas, to massively rocky hills that will leave you gasping for air. Visually the trails are well marked and sprinkled with intriguing décor, ranging from natural rivers and large climbing rocks, to metal gates and wooden bridges. As an added bonus, due to the park's popularity, other people are always passing by, laying the footwork for those crazy chance encounters that always make hikes so interesting.
Who is Going to Love It
The park has appeal to nearly everybody. From those simply looking for a nice place to eat lunch or walk their dog, to serious adventurers looking to dedicate a day to uncovering the area's mysteries. If you're one who likes to enjoy other activities on top of hiking, the park's large bodies of water serve as a great place to set up and fish, or to drag a canoe or kayak. The wide trails cater well to groups of friends who wish to spread out and experience the park simultaneously; no one plays The Pied Piper here
When choosing where to park, keep in mind that the Redding entrance on Sunset Hill road has the most space, while the Newtown entrance on Hopewell Road only has a few spots, and can get full quick on a nice weekend day. The same can be said for the entrance on Bethel's Old Dodgingtown Road. There are no parking fees.