The Sky’s the Limit 2017 Hiking Challenge #11
Chatfield Hollow State Park, Killingworth
July 22, 2017
This Challenge point represented an all-new state park for me! That’s right, even though Chatfield Hollow contains a little nature center museum, “caves,” a covered bridge, a swimming pond, and a CFPA trail network… it took the DEEP’s TSTL Challenge to finally bring me down here.
And now that I’ve listed all that stuff above, I’ll certainly be back!
Chatfield Hollow is one of the cool state parks that has a free and legal parking lot for those of us who don’t feel like paying the 9 bucks or whatever it is to drive the quarter mile into the park.
The catch is, of course, that we have to hike in. Which I was more than happy to do. Heck, even if I had beach stuff with me, I think I’d hoof it.
As it was, our hike wasn’t going to be too long, but with Damian in tow, a short hike can often become a long slog. The first few minutes were, as always, a bit of a challenge, but he settled in once we got going.
We detoured off the main road to tackle part of the green-blazed Chimney Trail and the “Indian Caves.” We took a short-cut back to the road so we missed the cool stuff. I just read this page about the (quite interesting) geology of the park and wish we didn’t miss the “caves.” I’ll be sure to do better next time.
What we couldn’t miss is the giant cliff here. I’ve heard that this is a hot rock climbing spot and I can see why. As for us, my little ninja Calvin enjoyed hopping around and pretending to scale the rockwall, but that was it for us as far as that goes.
We had a Sky’s the Limit Challenge to complete! We walked down the road and checked out Schreeder Pond. Gazing out across it, Calvin turned his nose up at the idea of swimming here. Such a spoiled kid… pools and beaches with waves are more his speed. He’s swum in ponds before without issue, but this one did look a little sad. And the “beach” was even sadder. But rest assured, swimming here is another reason we’ll be back!
The pond is surrounded by a beautiful stand of pine; which is always a nature scene I love. The fact that the tannins from the needles turn the water into a murky rusty brown is just a fact of life.
We walked across the spillway and over to the nature center. Here is our official TSTL picture:
Chatfield Hollow is another park that benefitted greatly from the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930’s. The Park was originally a Civilian Conservation Corps recreation area. They planted all the pine trees here, they dammed the pond, and they made all sorts of improvements to the area.
As I write this page, the more I realize we missed. I had other stops to make and limited time to do so, so I’m not too upset with myself. No way could we have done it all – let alone hike all 18 miles of trails, but I feel like I’m giving Chatfield Hollow short shrift. And I don’t like that.
At least we’d get to see the Nature Center. Here’s Calvin opening the door which clearly states it is open on weekends from 10AM to 5PM.
Everyone loves another nature center!
Except that’s not a door. It’s a big window.
And Calvin isn’t walking in, he’s breaking in.
Yes, it appears that the nature center was suffering from the Connecticut budget woes affecting so many of our state parks. It was closed… but sort of open. The windows here were open and only required a curious little boy to step over and through the window to check the place out.
Which is exactly what Calvin did while I wasn’t watching him. My little felon.
Once I got him out of there, we “toured” the nature center; window by window. Since we’ve seen this same stuff a hundred times before, we were satisfied by our walk-by visit.
We returned to the car via the Paul F. Wildermann Boardwalk. Mr. Wildermann was a longtime DEP (now DEEP) employee.
Covering approximately 825 feet, the boardwalk allows visitors to “walk through some of the most beautiful inland wetland habitat in the state without disturbing its natural beauty.”
It’s a very nice walk and the state has done a great job of adding a bunch of explanatory signage along the way. Most similar boardwalks are straight with right angles. This bad boy curves and twists like a snake – which of course makes it much cooler than the rest.
Damian actually stopped and “read” the signs. He can read pretty well, but he can’t really process what he’s reading. Oh how I wish I could get inside his brain someday. Like, what’s he thinking; out here, on a boardwalk in Killingworth in the hot sun, looking at a sign about invasive species for 4 minutes.
Who knows. The mystery of Damian will vex me (and many others) for the rest of my life.
I was very impressed with the construction and forethought that went into this thing, and I’m glad we took this slightly circuitous route back to the car.
We’re getting close to completing another Sky’s the Limit Challenge, the three of us goofballs.