When I read on the Connecticut State Tourism website that Farm River State Park in East Haven was one of their Top 10 hiking destinations in the state I figured I should go check it out. Farm River State Park is a small park, only about 60 acres, so I was interested to see what made it so great. It is also only 2 miles away from where I live so I could walk there and home to get extra miles in.
Farm River State Park is a newer park having only been designated as a state park in 1998. It lies on the western side of the Farm River. The river itself is 16.5 miles long draining down from Durham and Wallingford before arriving in Long Island Sound.
Since I was walking to the park I didn’t go in on the main path. There is a small parking area on Route 142 where most people start. I slipped in a side entrance and was excited to come across a kiosk that had a self-guided nature trail booklet of the park prepared by Daryll and Barbara Borst from Quinnipiac University. The day before I had downloaded this booklet onto my phone, but it is much easier to read one of the booklets provided at the kiosk. The booklet is 15 pages long and takes you along a very family friendly trail with markers along the way. The numbered markers match up with a section of the booklet. Here the authors tell you about things ranging from types of trees, geological features, and marshland.
Once I got my bearing I headed along the nature trail. Each marker is very clear and it was enjoyable to stop and learn. Marker one, for example, tells the difference between red and white oak trees. Being that there were no leaves on the tree I had to check out the leaves on the ground.
Only a few feet down the trail was a young white pine tree that someone had added Christmas ornaments to. This made me smile and I had to take pictures of this tree I might otherwise have walked right by.
The first overlook gave a view of a salt marsh with very clear mosquito ditches. According to the booklet, these ditches were dug to help reduce the spread of malaria by reducing mosquito breeding habitat.At this point along the trail, there are multiple viewpoints. What made the views even better was the fact that I was hiking in the winter and there were no leaves on the trees. There is a spectacular overlook with a view of the mouth of the Farm River and Long Island Sound. Being winter also meant no boats in the water so it was just Mother Nature and me. I probably could have just sat there on the rock enjoying the view, but I was a little short on time and continued along the nature trail. Near the turn around I came across the one and only person I saw in the park. He too was out enjoying the day with his dog.
There was one last section to explore and I really didn’t know what to expect since there is a private home right near it. After coming around a corner there is beautiful marshland with an osprey nest platform. Unfortunately, I did not see any osprey, but this park is known to be teeming with a variety of birds during certain seasons.
At the end of this section of trail is a moderate size grassy field right on the banks of the Farm River. Immediately I thought, PICNIC! This would be the perfect spot to sit down and have a picnic and watch boats go by in the summer. I couldn’t resist sitting on the rocks with my legs dangling over, soaking in some vitamin D. Farm River State Park is a nice little gem. I can see why it made the Connecticut Tourism website’s Top 10 Hiking Trails. The park is super family friendly with easy trails, an awesome educational guide, and gorgeous views.