Hazarding a Guess…
Scantic River State Park, Enfield
~2 miles of mish-mashing around, November 2016 & February 2017
I’ve been procrastinating on writing up my treks in Scantic River State Park for a while. Simply put, it’s all a bit confusing. Parts of it are called Scantic River Linear Park. Some sources refer to the three distinct parcels using different names.
None of that really matters though. What matters is that there are a ton of trails here and most of them aren’t even marked. Then there’s the deep history of the place. I made three separate trips to complete the Enfield sections. It’s all a bit much. So I’ll be breaking the three parcels into three separate CTMQ reports. Easier for me… easier for you.
North, Hazard Ave/Holiday Lane Entrance
The very first section I hiked in all of Scantic River parcels was the northern side of the Hazardville section. I had Damian with me, so perhaps that’s what distracted me as we parked in the lot on route 190 and headed straight down a trail into the woods. And into a field. Annnnnnnnnnd… then there was no trail.
Back up the hill and over to the other side of the parking lot and down the actual trail into the woods and along a stream.
This seems to be the only area within the park with no industrial relics of the Hazardville Powder Company. There are plenty on the other side of the river off of Dust House Road (below) though, if that’s your thing.
I rather liked this section; there is a nice bench along the Scantic that Damian rested on and the trial meanders along the banks and through some peaceful meadow areas.
Well, as peaceful as an area can be while hunting legally happens up the hill. Yeah. I almost never hike on non-Sundays, but found myself here on a Saturday. I’m always amazed at some of the places that can be legally hunted.
There are houses nearby and obviously this park is frequented by non-hunters like us. Damian and I passed several dog walkers along the way. I saw a hunter go off into the woods (away from the trails, sure, but… still) so I reversed my coat, instantly rocking the blaze orange.
Damian, who needs order in his disordered world, wouldn’t stop asking my why I was wearing my jacket backwards. For once, I didn’t get too annoyed by his repetitive perseveration, since I figured our noise would help us not get shot.
We followed the trail to its end in a little field near a warehouse. Then we retraced our steps, didn’t get shot, and returned to the car.
South, Dust House Road Entrance
I have no idea, but I’d guess that the “south” section of this section of Scantic River SP is the most visited. It’s the one with the “DO NOT BRING BOOZE HERE AND WE CAN SEARCH YOUR COOLERS Y’KNOW” signage. It’s the one with the Scantic Rapids.
And hoo boy, those Scantic Rapids are so rapid that they made my CT Waterfalls list – only because they somehow made it into the Connecticut Waterfalls guidebook.
I think also that this is where people come to swim in the river the most. Good for them, but I was here just to hike. Through the snow.
I walked the main trail along the river for a good long way. There are a ton of other trails around here – some official, most not. Teens have to have ways to avoid cooler searching cops, y’know.
The walk along the river is quite pretty and passes a bunch of stuff that was built in the early mid 1800’s by the Hazard Powder Company. Through pure happenstance, the name comes from Augustus Hazard and not the hazards of making explosives; Hazard built his hugely successful company in Enfield. You can learn all about it here, via the Enfield Historical Society.
The Enfield sections of the park contain tons of mill remnants from back in the day. The gunpowder business was it its height in the mid-19th century. The war with Mexico in 1846, the 1849 California gold rush, and the 1854 Crimean War all brought huge orders for gunpowders of all types… and this was before the Civil War when Hazardville supplied a massive amount if powder to the Union.
The remnants of a large dam are just past the park’s entrance here, but you have to poke around a bit (or look across the river) to find some more stuff. (Or, you could drive over to Bailey Road and hike the southern section of the Scitico section of the park to see the tightest concentration of 170-year-old industrial buildings and equipment.
My work is never done.