2023 Year In Exploration

Other Years: 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 2024


  • 211,304 site views
  • 24.3% of the state explored, that’s 482 out of 1,983
  • Explored 99 locations this year, 52 new to me and 47 I’d been before
  • Added 88 new locations to the map, 29% of the state is represented
  • 4 movies and 4 newsletters published

[expand title=”Hikes by Month     |expand|” tag=”h3″]


  • Moss Tract – Quick return visit after discovering it’s hidden waterfall to check out the south section trails
  • Quinebaug Trail – Thru hiked the trail on a warm January day for about 17 miles round trip overlapping with heavy dirt bike presence
  • Hidden Valley Preserve – Revisited this great property hitting all the highlights from cave to river view to overlook
  • Steep Rock Preserve – The trail to overlook was closed on my last visit so I returned for it’s fantastic view before returning once more to the tunnel
  • Giuffrida Park – Hiked the Metacomet Ridge and returned along the reservoir in the standard rugged loop
  • Westfield Falls – Quick stop on a cold windy day to check in on the falls
  • Sleeping Giant State Park – Rehiked some of my favorite trails since I didn’t visit the Giant at all in 2022


  • Mount Higby – Hiked this section of the Mattabesett Trail on a rainy morning and made a movie of the views
  • Lewis Farm Bird Sanctuary – There are a fair number of trails tucked in this small property, I particularly enjoyed the curved bridge over the river here
  • Will Warren’s Den– The trail was a bit of a mud pit in the spring, but the views are always worth it
  • West Mountain Property – Caught Cathles Falls and the great overlook but didn’t have time to complete the full loop here
  • Mary Edwards Mountain Property – The first view is the best view, the trails are rugged, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised
  • Godard Preserve – Connected down to this preserve from Mary Edwards and the trails along the brooks provide peaceful hiking
  • Sunset Rock State Park – Hiked this to discover that you’re exploring Crescent Lake and its trails and the state park property is untrailed to the north, but a great overlook from the ridge line


  • Mansfield Hollow – Combining different loops here, still trying to discover new things at one of my most visited state parks
  • Pigeon Swamp – Rehiked this property after a couple years on a sunny spring afternoon, trails were exactly the same as I remembered
  • Dismal Brook Wildlife Preserve – Lulled by the initial trails I was drawn in by the history and love the deep woods cabin and pond view
  • Schoolhouse Brook Park – Rehiked sections on either side of the road to see that mountain bike trails have been developing over the years


  • Sherwood Island State Park – First visit to one of CT’s uber popular beach parks, fun to walk the beach without the crowds
  • Trout Brook Valley – I feel like I only got to explore a tiny portion of this large and varied park 
  • Kilkenny Rock – One of the few sections of the Metacomet I haven’t done before, fun hike that overlaps significantly with mountain bike trails
  • Mono Pond State Park – Stopped here for a quick hike on a breezy morning
  • Cotton Hollow Preserve – The ruins have been protected, but now the harder work of fundraising to preserve them begins
  • Holcomb Farm – Explored what I could here, but access to the majority of trails washed away with a bridge that has yet to be replaced unfortunately
  • Dewey-Granby Oak – First visit to this majestic old former champion tree
  • Katan Ensor and Old Messenger Road Preserves – This new preserve is a real gem connecting multiple parcels, but the views were all fogged in due to rainy weather
  • Shelter Falls – Last hike here was in 2018, this time I found an abandoned stretch of trail down to a small pond 
  • Sperry Falls – Got the timing just right to see these rare falls roaring after heavy rains
  • Mahoney Pond – Poking around these old woods roads to find a simple forest loop
  • Cedar Wood Preserve – Still a work in progress, but interesting trails that feel longer than their length
  • Barrett Preserve – This property felt tucked away despite being surrounded by private property, the streams and bridges were a nice surprise


  • Bush Hill Preserve – Did nearly a full loop of the property and stopped to explore the barn tag sale land trust fundraiser
  • Stony Brooke Park – Hiked the northern stretch of trails, some of which are pretty overgrown
  • Shafran Conservation Area – Last hike here was in 2018 and not much has changed, the cool clear streams here are perfect
  • Tower Hill Preserve – Caught this just a couple days after its grand opening to find a well crafted trail with a surprise hidden waterfall
  • Blackledge Falls – Quick hike up to the falls and then connected into the southern edge of Gay City before looping back
  • Bigelow Hollow – Hiked the western perimeter and then along the East Ridge Trail, the parking was packed but we didn’t seen another person
  • Pixie Falls – Backpacked out to see the well-crafted fairy house above the falls and did an overnight at the nearby backpacking site


  • Thru-hike of the Shenipsit Trail – Hiked all 50.2 miles over two days during peak mountain laurel bloom
  • Peterson Park – The start of the Mattatuck Trail here is perfect riverside trail
  • Allanach-Wolf Woodlands – Finally revisited one of my old favorites to find trails have been officially extended and connect to Wolf Den Land Trust property
  • Codfish Falls / Fenton Tract – Finally connected these two thanks to a fallen tree over the Fenton River to check out the rerouted Nipmuck Trail


  • Woodtick Recreation Area – Great first hike doing the full loop around the Scoville Reservoir with great sights along the way
  • Simpson Woods – Revisited this property after a couple years to find that trails are slowly getting overgrown
  • Mt Hope Park – Still a short beautiful hike along the river, but still a shame the beavers have flooded the full loop connection
  • White Memorial Conservation Center – Did the classic boarkwalk hike, which had a couple flooded sections, but removing my shoes gave me the boardwalk to myself
  • Camp Columbia State Park – Last hiked this in the winter, so visited again in the summer, most just visit the tower so the hiking loop is overgrown


  • Risley Park – A few years since my last visit, enjoyed the trails, enjoyed the bench on the far side of the pond even more
  • Gay City State Park – Hiked the blue trail out to its Shenipsit connection and then back through the center of the park
  • Goodwin State Forest – Out on the Natchaug Trail again, highlight of the hike was an owl among the pines
  • Camp Aya-Po – Always try to rehike this one whenever I’m in the area
  • Dart Hill North Hockanum River – First hike on the Hockanum River Trail as odd as Steve from CTMQ says but certainly has its moments
  • Oakland Trail Hockanum River – Jumped onto another section soon after, great loop hike on both sides of the river
  • Dart Hill Park – A third section, stayed on theme – odd but has its moments too
  • Coney Rock – Quick afternoon hike with a view


  • Talbot WMA – Didn’t have time to hike the full loop, so enjoyed the walk down to the river bend and back
  • Nathan Hale State Forest – Despite intending to, I’ve never done the same hike here twice, a few miles through the woods and a stop at the farmer’s market


  • Dunhamtown Forest – Rehiked this loop after a few years and not a bit has changed
  • South Meadows River Trail – First of hike of this work in progress, some pavement, some grass, some mud, curious to see how it develops
  • Whetten Woods – I’d forgotten how short this loop is, so hiked it twice
  • Metcalf Nature Preserve – First hike of this short figure eight loop


  • Moss Sanctuary – An easy morning hike
  • McCann Family Farm – Despite hiking Whitaker a few times, I’d never jumped over to these surprisingly rugged trails
  • Avery Farm Nature Preserve – First hike of this great loop that’s just challenging and varied enough
  • Crystal Ridge Trail – First hike of this new town trail, the area has potential but the trail needs more use


  • Rock Springs – Fun visit hitting all the highlights and an easier hike without all the summer overgrowth
  • Harvey Preserve – Visited JT’s newest preserve a couple days before it opened and found a surprisingly great little loop
  • Talbot WMA – Rehiked the loop here and it was longer than I remember, lots of new fallen trees though
  • Mitchell & Reed Woodlands – Wet hike after recent rains on seldom used trail, interesting area but trails in poor shape
  • Benedict Benson Preserve – Solid little loop with stream views and an old car
  • Coney Rock – Late afternoon sunset hike
  • Niederwerfer Wildlife Sanctuary – First visit and missed part of the loop so the hike was short and uneventful
  • Major Michael Donnelly Land Preserve – First visit and loved the extensive boardwalks
  • Bailey’s Ravine – Had to capture a waterfall after a day of heavy rains
  • R.H. Collins Preserve – First visit, short loop with plenty of interesting views, would like to visit in summer next
  • Portland Reservoir – Did most of the rim trail, areas are still flooded with beaver activity but was able to keep my feet dry
  • Oak Ledges Preserve – First visit, rugged little loop out to a surprise meditation shelter


Oak Ledges Preserve


98 S Rd, Portland, CT, USA

Oak Ledges Preserve Middlesex Land Trust 8.27 acres in Portland, CT Parking: Shoulder parking near 98 S Rd, Portland, CF Trail Map          Trails:…

M.K. Wilcox Park


46 Hoskins Rd, Bloomfield, CT, USA

Marion K. Wilcox Park Bloomfield Town Park 118.31 acres in Bloomfield, CT Parking: Medium sized lot near 46 Hoskins Rd, Bloomfield, CT Trail Map       Trails:…

R.H. Collins Preserve


164 Isinglass Hill Rd, Portland, CT 06480, USA

Roy Huse Collins Preserve Middlesex Land Trust 12 acres in Portland, CT Parking: Shoulder parking near 164 Isinglass Hill Rd, Portland, CT Trail Map       Trails:…

Portland Reservoir


336 Old Marlborough Turnpike, Portland, CT, USA

Portland Reservoir Town of Portland Property 121 acres in Portland, CT Parking: Small parking area near 336 Old Marlborough Turnpike, Portland, CT Trail Map       …

Major Michael Donnelly Land Preserve


1165 Sullivan Ave, South Windsor, CT 06074, USA

Major Michael Donnelly Land Preserve South Windsor Town Park 115.5 acres in South Windsor, CT Parking: Main Parking East: Medium sized lot near 1165 Sullivan Ave, South…

Harvey Preserve


68 Federal Road, Chaplin, CT, USA

Harvey Preserve Joshua’s Trust 64 acres in Chaplin, CT Parking: Small lot near 68 Federal Rd, Chaplin, CT Trail Map          Trails: 1.4 miles …

Crystal Ridge Trail


1 Crystal Ridge Drive, Ellington, CT, USA

Crystal Ridge Trail Ellington Town Park 48 acres in Ellington, CT Parking: Shoulder parking near 1 Crystal Ridge Dr, Ellington, CT Cul-de-sac parking near 158 Old Sandy…

McCann Family Farm


734 Main St, Somers, CT 06071, USA

McCann Family Farm Northern CT Land Trust 84 acres in Somers, CT Parking: Medium sized lot near 734 Main St, Somers, CT Trail Map       …

South Meadows River Trail


100 S Meadow Ln, East Hartford, CT, USA

South Meadows River Trail Goodwin University acres in East Hartford, Glastonbury, and Wethersfield, CT Parking: Small lot near 100 S Meadow Ln, East Hartford, CT Trail Map … Read more…

Nichols Field


178 Falls Rd, Moodus, CT, USA

Nichols Field East Haddam Town Park 120 acres in East Haddam, CT Parking: Large lot near 178 Falls Rd, Moodus, CT Trail Map         Trails:…