We’ve all been out walking or hiking a lot lately, trying to get outside and get as much exercise as possible as life as we used to know it struggles to resume and social distancing remains the norm.
Luckily, here in Glastonbury we have a lot of options when it comes to finding nice places to walk.
To start, is there anywhere more lovely to stroll than Main Street? With its historic homes lining both sides of the road, plenty of sidewalks and mature trees offering lots of shade, Main Street is a popular destination for walkers, runners and cyclists alike.
Running roughly from the East Hartford line to the intersection of Portland Road, it’s the lower end of Main Street, the area that starts at Hebron Avenue and the fountain, that attracts the most activity and pedestrians. And it doesn’t hurt that much of lower Main Street is either flat or only slightly hilly.
But scenic Main Street is just one of many places to walk or hike here. There are no less than 13 local and state parks in our town, including Shoddy Mill Preserve, Blackledge Falls, Cotton Hollow Preserve and Great Pond. They wend through forests, up hillsides, near historic spots and along the Connecticut River.
So grab your sneakers or hiking shoes. Here are some of the great walks you can take around Glastonbury!
Riverfront Park, 300 Welles Street
Located within walking distance of Main Street, Riverfront Park has a variety of recreational fields as well as a walking loop that runs along the Connecticut River. Some of the facilities at the park include a lighted baseball field, lacrosse and soccer fields, public boat launch, boathouse, banquet facility playground, ice skating and a dog park. There’s also a public boat launch, a picnic area, a pavilion and public restrooms.
Earle Park, 1325 Main Street
This nearly 50-acre facility is largely wooded and undeveloped and includes hiking and walking trails along Holland Brook. The Glastonbury Pony Club has a riding ring here and many of the trails are used for horseback riding. The CT Audubon Center is located nearby and conducts programs there.
The Ferry Landing, 300 Ferry Lane
If you’re looking for something a little different in the “getting out” category, you might take a trip down to the Glastonbury-Rocky Hill ferry landing. The ferry is the longest continuously operating ferry in the country and walkers and cyclists can take trip across the river or just sit and watch the boats go by. You can also fish or picnic there and you may even catch a glimpse of an American bald eagle.
Cotton Hollow Preserve, 493 Hopewell Street
Roaring Brook cuts through the 80-acre Cotton Hollow Preserve and during the 18th and 19th centuries it was home to several grist mills, saw mills, iron foundries and a cotton mill. You can still see the ruins of the 1814 cotton mill today and the preserve has several recreation areas for hiking and fishing. The area is mostly limited to use for Glastonbury residents.
Great Pond Preserve, 451 Great Pond Road
The town owns the 70 acres that make up Great Pond Preserve and it is managed by the Great Pond Stewardship Committee. The trail head begins off Great Pond Road and leads to New England’s largest Red Cedar tree, which has a circumference of 10 feet. The preserve, located off Route 17 in South Glastonbury, was created in 1990 when the land was donated to the town. It has three walking trails, including a 2-mile trek that includes an overlook of the Connecticut River.
Blackledge Falls, 3874 Hebron Ave.
Located on the east side of town at the Hebron line, the 80-acre Blackledge Falls park is mostly wooded, though the centerpiece of the park is a 25-foot waterfall. The property has hiking trails, a pond and a stream and the park abuts the 1,500-acre Gay City State Park in Hebron. Some of Blackledge’s trails connect with those in Gay City, which in turn connect to a trail system in the 640-acre Case Mountain park in Manchester.
J.B. Williams Park, 789 Neipsic Road
Located off Neipsic Road, J.B. Williams Park has 161.9 acres of woodlands. Facilities include hiking trails, a softball field, pavilion, pond and children's playground. The park pavilion is available for rental and includes a kitchen. The lower park’s lower pond is popular for ice skating in the winter.
Shoddy Mill Preserve,
The Shoddy Mill Preserve consists of 77 acres that were purchased by the town in the late 1960’s as part of its plan to create a greenbelt along Roaring Brook. Some of its features include the unique Shoddy Mill dam As its name implies, the area was once home to Shoddy Mill, which produced what was then known as “shoddy,” reclaimed wool that was processed into felt or fabric. The preserve features a nearly 2-mile walking trail.