2020 Year in Review

Previous years:    2017   |  2018   |  2019 

Fourth annual review, once again looking back not just in terms of exploration, but also in the growth of this site.  The exploration highlights of the year:

See every location I visited this year on the 2020 Page

Looking Back

What Went Well

Exponential growth of the site.

  • The website hit 20,000 visitors in 2019 and as of this writing is at 150,878 views for 2020 which doesn’t include the couple weeks when the site crashed and I had stats disabled
  • My YouTube channel doubled its subscribers and had 19,412 new views for 64,782 minutes watched. That’s over 1,000 hours, woah.
  • Season 2 of this newsletter added 96 new readers

Just want to say how awed I am and how much I appreciate your support of my project.  Thank you.


  • Forced myself to put a tagline on the site ‘Your Guide To All Connecticut’s Outdoor Adventures’ in recognition that this little project of mine isn’t so little anymore and has gained its own momentum.
  • Only seems right to up my game accordingly and signal that this is YOUR guide, I’m just lucky enough to get to build it


  • The site actually made some money.  Not breaking even yet, but instead of just giving things away I set up a store and sold a few goods.  A double thank you to those who have purchased shirts or stickers.
  • I’ve got two new shirt designs up on the store and want to give my friends at Vulturetown Press a shoutout for their help with the shirts

What Didn’t Go Well

The Great Crash.

  • Catastrophe isn’t great and ate up a large portion of the year rebuilding. Ongoing issues on the server/back end involving lots of technical jargon.


  • I try lots of different things on the site: visual tweaks, different ways of displaying information, new organizing pages.  But, I don’t have a good way of gauging impact.  I’m sure there’s some tech out there that can help and I’d love to solicit some feedback from you all, perhaps through a giveaway.


  • I haven’t been getting the kind of photos I want.  Not something words work well for, just a minor frustration in terms of quality this year.

Looking Forward

2021 Theme For the Year.

I thought my 2020 would be ‘Year of the State Parks’ so I was thinking of reseting that for 2021.  I was also thinking it could be ‘Completing the Eastern Half of the State’ until I roadmapped that and there are still at least 325 more locations to explore.  

So I’m hoping the theme will be emergent rather than top-down.  Either way I’m sure it will be coming up in Season 3 of this newsletter.


I’ve started work on a Connecticut Explorer’s Guide in response to a couple inquiries. The aim is to present the ever growing information on the site in exciting new and digestable ways.  Things I’m working on:

  • The Complete Connecticut Explorer’s Guide (eBook or rBook)
  • A “multi-player” version of the site
  • Master List and Tools
  • Challenges and Progress Tracking
  • Seasonal Primers
  • Community Space for Discussion

Becoming a member will be a way to support all the work that goes into researching and hiking hundreds of locations, publishing a newsletter, and maintaining such a large database of content. Your contribution would not only help make ExploreCT a sustainable platform but help me push it forward in depth, scope, and usefulness.

If you are interested, enter your email at this page and I’ll keep you updated as it progresses.

Updates and Additions in December

  • Air Line Trail – Added parking locations by town for the length of the trail.  I don’t think I’ll create pages for most sections, but the first step in a complete guide
  • Town Guides – The Town Parks page has changed to the Town Guides page where you’ll be able to better explore by town.  Note: Many towns don’t have guides yet as I settle on a good format
  • State Park / Forest Lists – The State Parks and Forests page now has complete lists.  I’ve been digging around and these are more complete than even the official DEEP sources
  • Added new tagline and updated the About section to mirror
  • Jones Mountain – Great overlook in New Hartford, it’s too bad the ‘foam dome’ no longer remains
  • Nepaug State Forest – Quite the confusing network of MTB trails here, but some serious jumps, gaps, and banks make good runs I’m sure.  Nice overlook for hikers too
  • Sweetheart Mountain – This old ski hill still has the rusting equipment to discover with views of Canton
  • Capt. George Comer State Park – Very simple, nearly unknown state park with access to trails at the adjacent Harris Reserve
  • Duncan Preserve – Seasonal views of the Connecticut River, a ravine, an old quarry, and the site of the East Haddam’s first Episcopal Church all within one mile of trail
  • Brainard Homestead – This scenic reserve has been sitting for 90+ years, finding the old foundation was the highlight
  • Bulkeley Hill Preserve – Not officially open, but parking is done and trails are open to exploring
That does it for 2020, wishing you all an adventurous 2021.  Please send all comments, questions, seasonal primers, foam dome blueprints, and multi-player ideas to matt@explorect.org