Giddings Park, Franklin
You’ve likely never heard of Franklin’s Giddings Park, and you’ll likely never go there, so I’ll start off with my friend Matt Woodward’s description of it over on his excellent Explore Connecticut site:
Giddings Park is everything you would want a town park to be. There are ballfields, a horse ring, tennis and basketball courts, a playground, picnic pavilions, and a tiny lending library. Then in the woods behind all that, there is a loop of trails with fitness obstacles. The trails are wide and flat and total about 1.25 miles.
This is accurate. Although, I guess, if I were to make a town park “everything I’d want it to be,” it probably wouldn’t be located in Franklin, Connecticut.
I kid, I kid. I’ve come to love Franklin’s almost strange mix of rolling rural hills, framed by endless stonewalls and deep, foreboding valley forests and dangerous roads. Finding my way to Giddings offered both, so I was ready for a nice little walk in the woods once I’d parked.
I didn’t happen to see any sort of map online or on a sign at the park, so I was flying blind. I wasn’t all that concerned, but I like my maps. Especially when the trailhead isn’t readily apparent, as is the case here.
I just walked towards the woods and found a trail that took me down to another field and the horse area. I continued walking and found the real trail and re-entered the woods. The unique thing here at Giddings Park is that it contains a series of “Ninja Warrior” and “Tuff Mudder” and fitness challenge obstacles.
Now, I have no use for such things, but my man Matt from ExploreCT (who is young and fit) loves this stuff. He claims there are eight obstacles here and that he did them all. While running the trails. Yeah. You do you, Matt.
The main trail is very well cleared and will get you from obstacle to obstacle. Some of them appeared unfinished, although that could very well be the result of my ignorance about such activities. Several trails radiate off what I assume is the main trail; and I suppose it can get confusing if you aimlessly wander.
Which I tend to do from time to time, but I always kept track of where the main path was. As you can see, it’s wide, graded, and even sometimes had a mulch layer on it in an attempt to lessen the mud. Which doesn’t really work.
I found it hilariously fascinating that someone has done the same walk with a can of fluorescent spray paint, marking every exposed root and rock along the way. This is a trail. In the woods. There will be rocks and roots. Often, lots of them.
Was this done for the “tuff mudder” fitness trail run competition? If so, that’s doubly silly. And it’s not like this was only done on particularly dangerous roots and rocks. No, every root and rock was painted. Weird.
The loop sort of parallels the road you came in on (route 207) in a northwest direction. To the west is the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area – a state-owned tract. I’d recommend staying within Giddings though. WMA’s allow hunting for one, but the trails are almost always unmapped and rather confusing. Also, they don’t usually care too much about bridges and things like that:
But if I had crossed there and kept heading northwest, I’d probably have been able to get to Bailey’s Ravine. Go ahead, give it a try and let me know how it goes.
I smartly turned back from that log towards Giddings Park and then continued towards the parking lot. Along the way, I walked next to a rather large swamp (the “tuff mudders” should have to run through that!) and then near the Franklin Elementary School.
The trail deposited me at the far (western) end of all the ball fields. Which wasn’t all that exciting, BUT you may have noticed my title to this page: Positively Giddi…
Why was I so “giddi?” Because, my friends, this hike was allowed me to say that I’ve “completed” Franklin! Woo-hoo!