Watrous Park, Cromwell
Judging by the Google hits for this place, it’s a hot spot for stay-at-home moms and their children. For whatever reason, mommy blogs all went to Watrous in 2016. I guess they had a mommy blogger meet-up or something. There this one, and this one, and don’t forget about this one.
Then, below those blogs, my man Peter Marteka and his 2009 Hartford Courant article shows up. And if you’re reading this page from a Google search, I tip my hat to you because I’m sure it’s not even on the first page of results.
Marteka’s article is cute. Back in 2009, Marteka seemed to be just discovering the plethora of trailed properties squeezed into suburban sprawl:
I discovered it in Wethersfield a few months ago and again in Cromwell last weekend. There are places you think are totally surrounded by suburban development and sprawl. But then, in the middle of all this, you discover that slice of open space where you can get lost in the woods.
Cromwell’s Watrous Park is one of those places. Surrounded by schools, residential neighborhoods, playgrounds, skate parks and athletic fields, visitors can walk along almost a mile of trails through a deep forest, a meadow or around farm fields filled with nursery stock.
I’m sure 2019 Marteka would chuckle at this, as I’m sure in the intervening decade he’s discovered more trails that are far more urban and suburban. Despite what you just read, Watrous never feels hemmed in. The woods are thick, the pines are huge, and the trails are set off away from housing developments. (The nursery is still there, and the playground has been built up, sure, but you won’t be walking through backyards.)
Although, Marteka notes that during the 1990s, the nursery fields were targeted to become a 300-home development with a golf course similar to nearby River Highlands, also in Cromwell. That never happened and here we are.
And here I am to let you know the secret about Watrous. As far as the hiking goes, it’s pretty lame. There are a few route choices, but the trails all generally form loops from the picnic pavilion. I went for the widest loop which took me through some nice woods and over to those nursery fields.
I tried following the trail along the fields but there’s just nothing there. It does follow a natural gas line easement for a while up to the back of the youth baseball fields. Excitement level: nil. I picked up another inner-loop trail which took me through a stunning – and yes, surprising – stand of white pine.
I poked around a bit in the woods but, finding nothing of note, worked my way back out to the parking lot. Alden Watrous was a Cromwell First Selectman who helped organize the town’s baseballs teams and such. It’s awesome that these woods and trails still exist in the face of Cromwell’s development, and I’m glad the mommy-bloggers had fun at the splash pad and playground.
But really, when it comes to hiking, you can skip this place and be fine. I promise.