Mie, Myself, and I-Park
Mie’s Trail/I-Park Trails, East Haddam
I-Park is a private preserve with several open houses during the year. Only walk these trails during those times.
I-Park is awesome. I absolutely love it and highly encourage you to visit when they have their Open Houses. If and when you do visit, and you want to experience what this place is all about, you simply must walk some trails. You see, most of the art installations are out there… in the woods… along the trails.
So, yes, I already wrote up “the trails” when I wrote about a visit to I-Park. I know.
One “installation” that has survived since 2002 is Mie’s Trail. The trail takes walkers through the woods and around – and into – an abandoned gravel pit. Mie Preckler’s idea here was simply to expose people to a basic ecology lesson: forest succession.
Through Mie’s gentle editing, a series of ‘gardens’ have emerged from the underbrush and detritus of nature’s steady cycles. Mie has returned to I-Park each year since to maintain and refine the piece. In 2009, the scale of the project was significantly expanded when the gravel pit proper was joined to Mie’s Trail to form the Gravel Pit Preserve, a space now dedicated to environmental preservation and observation. The rerouted trail traverses the gravel pit itself and gives the walker a more up-close and immediate exposure to nature’s regenerative forces at work.
In 2022, I-Park and the artist celebrated the 20th birthday of Mie’s Trail and enjoyed a fuller realization of the “work.” It’s all a bit silly in a very real sense; for those of us who hike a lot of trails, we walk through areas that have been scoured and scared and watch nature reclaim them over the years and decades. But no one else thought to call that art, did they?
I’ll give the artist credit for keeping up with it for over two decades and for making it a “thing” at I-Park. There are trail maps provided and everything. Most other installations at I-Park are ephemeral, and only last for a season or a few years at most. Mie lives in California too, making her commitment all the more impressive.
Mie created her trail and the related Gravel Pit Preserve in 2002, I-Park’s second year in operation. She has returned to I-Park to continue the conversation every year since to tend the trail and its five major “gardens:” the Mound, the Bowl, the Cypress Garden, the Funnel and the Spruce Bluff. I walked Mie’s Trail is bone-chilling cold of late November, so what I saw was brown, barren, and, well, dead. But here’s a picture from I-Park showing what it looks like in the summer:
Okay, so the main reason I’ve created this page is because this is a trailed property in Connecticut and that’s what I do: hike trailed properties in Connecticut and write about them. The draw here, of course, is not the trails themselves at all, but the art installations along them. There are several other paths and trails at I-Park besides Mie’s Trail, and again, I encourage every able-bodied person reading this to make it a point to get to East Haddam during an open house.
Some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen on this multi-decade CTMQ journey have been at I-Park. (Although you should know I have a personal love for outdoor natural-ish art installations.) I’ve included a trail map here to give you an idea of what’s in store. It’s expansive and allows for some private mediation – or at least private staring at cool things in the woods. I like staring at cool things in the woods.
And I hope you do to.