All customer facing DEEP services have returned to normal business operations. For detailed information on what this means, visit our “New Normal” website: DEEP New Normal Information

Press Releases

DEEP News Release Header

12/31/2020

Connecticut Celebrates the New Year with First Day Hikes on January 1 - Virtual and Self-Guided Hikes at 10 Parks and Forests Across the State

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)and its partners at the various State Parks and Forests Friends Groups are encouraging residents to get the New Year started off right by getting outside and safely partaking in a “First Day Hike,” at a state park or forest close to home.

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the format of this event has shifted from the usual in-person hikes and events to online, virtual and self-guided events with no specific timeframe. We ask all participating to wear a mask, practice safe social distancing, and meet in small groups composed of those within your household.

 

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year.

 

DEEP State Parks and Forests Friends Groups have put together an array of virtual and self-guided hikes and programs for those looking to participate, which average 1 to 2 miles or longer depending on the state park. See below for the list of Connecticut’s First Day Hikes, or view them on the DEEP website here.

 

“Connecticut is pleased to once again join in hosting First Day Hikes around the state, albeit in a slightly different fashion due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “As they were in 2020, Connecticut’s state parks and forests will continue to be a respite for folks in 2021 who seek the mental and physical rejuvenation nature provides. “We hope you consider celebrating the New Year safely in the outdoors, whether it be a First Day Hike, or part of a resolution to engage more with nature over the course of the year.”

 

Each year more than 9 million visitors visit the 110 Connecticut State Parks and 32 State Forests across the state. Established in 1913, the mission of the Connecticut State Park System is to provide natural resource based public recreational and educational opportunities through a system of state park and forest recreation areas, environmental centers and nature centers which provide an understanding of, access to, and enjoyment of the state’s historic, cultural and natural resources.

 

In Connecticut, virtual and self-guided First Day Hikes and programs will be offered at 10 State Park and Forest locations as well as at several locations in the Litchfield area: 

 

1. Chatfield Hollow State Park

Visit: Friends of Chatfield Hollow Facebook page 

Contact: Cheryl Buckley ckbucks@sbcglobal.net 860-391-1919 

 

Information:  Event inviting families to toast the arrival of 2021 and more importantly bid adieu to 2020 with a personal walk/hike. When families complete the walk of their choosing, they will be asked if they would like their group to be part of collage (of WELCOME 2021) pictures to be posted on the site.  

 

2. Machimoodus State Park

Visit: Friends of Machimoodus-Sunrise Friends Facebook Page 

Contact: Tanya machsunfriends@gmail.com  

 

Information: Photo scavenger hunt. People will be able to print, download or simply view the list on their smart phone and participate at their own pace.  

  

3. Mansfield Hollow State Park

Visit: Friends of Mansfield Hollow Facebook page 

Contact: Ron Manizza. 860-428-3667 

 

Information: Virtual hikes with routes marked out and available using your smart phone with the app Ridewithgps 

 

4. Pachaug State Forest

Visit: Friends of Pachaug Forest Facebook page 

Contact: Ryan Snide, friendsofpachaugforest@gmail.com

 

Information: Will be hosting virtual hikes at several locations within Pachaug that participants can do at their leisure.  

 

5. Scantic River State Park  

Visit: American Heritage River Commission Facebook page 
Contact: Debbie Talamini, talamini@cox.net 

American Heritage River Commission 

Scantic River State Park 

East Windsor CT 

 

Information: Self-guided hikes. Please share photos of your First Day Hike 2021 to our AHRC Facebook page or tag us in your personal posts. Enjoy the State Park and stay safe out there! 

 

6. James L. Goodwin State Forest

Visit the following to register:   

https://www.ctwoodlands.org/CFPA-events/new-years-hike-seek-goodwin-state-forest

 

Information: Hosting a weekend long Hike & Seek event, where families/individuals register and get what is essentially a scavenger hunt checklist of nature-themed items to find throughout the trails and gardens (fire ponds, animal print, scratch marks on a tree, an invasive species, etc.). This event is on your own, socially-distant and safe. The event runs from Friday January 1, 2021 through Sunday January 3, 2021. If participants find a certain amount of the items they win a simple prize.  

 

7. Meigs Point Nature Center

Visit: Meigs Point Nature Center Facebook Page 

Contact: Russ Miller, Russell.Miller@ct.gov 

 

Information: Have you ever wondered what a state park looks like in the winter, what animals are still around or which ones come out in the winter? Visit the Meigs Point Nature Center Facebook page at 11:00 am on January 1stto join “Ranger Russ” for a live hike along the shore at Hammonasset Beach State Park.  

 

8. Topsmead State Forest

Visit: Friends of Topsmead State Forest Facebook Page 

Visit: Events link 

Contact: Jane Golding  860-480-9668  jane.golding54@gmail.com 

 

Information: Friends of Topsmead State Forest will stage their hikes at the main parking lot at Topsmead. 

 

*History hike led with a guide or printed information to tour/ inform interested hikers about the history and grounds of Topsmead. (the house is not open). 

  

*A songbird trail tour given by the Friend of Topsmead, Janet Blauvelt, who has established and maintained birdhouses at Topsmead. 

  

*A serenity and scenic walk out to the Birdblind/Wildlife viewing building which overlooks vistas and fields. There’s a bench there at Topsmeads’ Pollinator garden and shelter inside the viewing blind. 

  

Friends will be at the parking lot at 10:00 if any assistance is desired. 

 

9. Litchfield First Day Hiking Opportunities 

Contact: Dean Birdsall, Litchfield Land Trust Stewardship

The LLT trail maps link from our web site: https://www.litchfieldlandtrust.org/our-preserves.html 

LLT email: info@litchfieldlandtrust.org 

Information: Litchfield Land Trust (“LLT”) self-guided First Day Hikes

 

Suggested hiking experiences: 

 

New Year vistas 

Apple Hill Trail – White Memorial Conservation Center 

https://whitememorialcc.org/trails/ (Access to trail maps and trail descriptions). Self-guided hike. 

 

Prospect Mountain Preserve Trails - Litchfield Land Trust https://www.litchfieldlandtrust.org/  (Access to trail maps and trail descriptions). Self-guided hike. 

  

Scenic Serenity 

Bird Blind & Wildlife viewing - Friends of Topsmead https://www.friendsoftopsmead.org/  Friends will be at the parking lot at 10:00 if any assistance is desired. A songbird trail tour given by the Friend of Topsmead, Janet Blauvelt, who has established and maintained birdhouses at Topsmead. 

 

Boyd Woods Audubon Sanctuary – Litchfield Hills Audubon https://lhasct.org/www.lhasct.org/Boyd_Woods.html Marie Kennedy will be there at 9:00 am for those who would like a guide.  

 

Medicine Rock Trail - The Litchfield Land Trust  

https://www.litchfieldlandtrust.org/ (Access to trail maps and trail descriptions). Self-guided hike. 

 

Vineyard/River Trail Loop - White Memorial Conservation Center https://whitememorialcc.org/trails/ (Access to trail maps and trail descriptions). Self-guided hike. 

 

Local History 

Boyd Woods Audubon Sanctuary - https://lhasct.org/www.lhasct.org/Boyd_Woods.html Marie Kennedy will be there at 9:00 am for those who would like a guide.  

 

Ice House Ruins Trail - White Memorial Conservation Center https://whitememorialcc.org/trails/ (Access to trail maps and trail descriptions). Self-guided hike.     

 

Shepaug Crossing Trail – Litchfield Land Trust  

https://www.litchfieldlandtrust.org/  (Access to trail maps and trail descriptions). Self-guided hike. 

 

Topsmead Grounds – Friends of Topsmead                             

Visit: https://www.friendsoftopsmead.org/  

 

 

10. White Memorial Conservation Center

Visit: https://whitememorialcc.org/calendar/ 

Contact: Carrie Szwed, 860-567-0857 www.whitememorialcc.org 

 

Information: Self-guided hikes  

 

11. Gillette Castle State Park

Visit: Friends of Gillette Castle Facebook page and YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrnlVQJXo8_6j7CFpyMJLmQ/videos?view_as=subscriber

Contact: Paul Schiller, info@gillettecastlefriends.org

 

Information: Videos series includes a tour of the castle, trail walks and other fun stories and features of the park. More information available at https://www.gillettecastlefriends.org/ 

 

12. Talcott Mountain State Park-Heublein Tower 

Visit: Friends of Heublein Tower Facebook page 

1) https://www.friendsofheubleintower.org/ 

2) Twitter: @heubleintower 

3) Instagram: @friendsofht 

Contact: Dan Hinman, dan@spiralx.com Jessica Hinman jhinman@friendsofheubleintower.org 

Twitter: @CTDEEPNews
Facebook: DEEP on Facebook

Contact

DEEP Communications  
DEEP.communications@ct.gov
860-424-3110