As the school year comes to an end and the warm late-spring air begins to fill our days, it is a great time to get outside and spend quality time with your family on a nature hike. The following hiking trails offer some of the best family-friendly locations in Fairfield County. Happy Trails!
Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens: Have fun exploring the five miles of hiking trails in Stamford that the Bartlett Arboretum has to offer. Pick up a map at the Visitor’s Center before you head out on the trails. We’ve enjoyed walking the Pond Trail and the boardwalk along the Wetland Walk.
Stamford Museum and Nature Center: Heckscher Farm and the playground are great attractions at the Stamford Nature Center. Also, the Overbrook Nature Center offers miles of hiking trails. There is even a Wheels in the Woods Trail that is universally accessible.
Mianus River Park: Mianus River Park, a nearly 400-acre urban forest, is sandwiched between Greenwich and Stamford. The trails follow the winding Mianus River. Friends of Mianus River have also created a “Nature Trail in the park with 13 points of interest. The Nature Trail is about two and a half miles long and takes no more than two hours at a leisurely pace.”
Cranbury Park: Cranbury Park in Norwalk is perfect when I want to feel like I am getting lost in the woods. This park consists of 227 acres surrounding the historic Gallaher Mansion and offers a series of winding trails that weave in and out of the woods. Although it’s not stroller-friendly, these trails are the perfect place for your budding naturalist to fall in love with the great outdoors. There is also an 18-hole disk golf course.
Norwalk River Valley Trail: This is the longest trail in Fairfield County, 30 miles, spanning through Norwalk, Danbury, Wilton, Ridgefield, and Redding. The trails are family-friendly and include a path along the Norwalk River and various ponds.
Webb Mountain Discovery Zone: Located in Monroe, admission is FREE! The Webb Mountain Discovery Zone has “Three trails that lead you through an intricate outdoor Scavenger Hunt, created by two of the state’s leading experts, with 27 learning stations featuring interpretive signs that encourage explorers young and old to find clues and evidence of how the land was used by people and animals past and present.”
New Canaan Nature Center: The New Canaan Nature Center is a botanical garden, arboretum, and nature preserve. We always start at one of the Nature Center’s two observation towers to get a lay of the land. If you listen carefully, you can hear the bullfrogs croaking in the marsh below. The New Canaan Nature Center has a 350-foot marsh boardwalk that provides the perfect setting to get up close to marsh wildlife. You can even borrow a net from the Visitors Center and try your hand at catching a frog!
New Canaan Land Trust: The Land Trust consists of around 400 acres of land. Check out the “Places to Explore” tab on the above link, and you will see many options for locations and trails. One of particular interest to explore with young children is the Firefly Sanctuary located in Northern New Canaan. In late June and July, visitors are welcome to stay throughout the evening to view fields with thousands of fireflies.
Waveny Park Trails: In addition to a big, open lawn at Waveny Park, there are also easy walking trails that are great for families with kids. There are several trails to choose from, each one being a little over a mile.
Weir Farm: Weir Farm, located in Wilton, is Connecticut’s only National Park. It is also the only National Park dedicated to American painting. This place is full of art history and naturally provides a beautiful setting for a little nature walk.
Audubon Greenwich: The Audubon Center in Greenwich is a beautiful setting and a great place for families to hike and observe birds and other animals. There are seven nature sanctuaries that are open to the public.
Babcock Preserve: Also located in Greenwich, this an approximately 4-mile loop in a forest setting. Along the way, there is an illustrated story for kids, one page at a time, which is great to encourage little ones to keep moving.
Seth Low Pierrepont State Park: This is a beautiful state park in Ridgefield and great for hiking. The trails were well-maintained and not too long or difficult for young kids. It was also beautiful with rolling hills, and one of the trails goes around a lake. The town of Ridgefield has great restaurant options for lunch as everyone is sure to be hungry after a hike.
Hemlock Hills and Pine Mountain Trail: This trail is listed as more difficult, so it may be best suited to families with older children who are looking for a bit of a challenge in addition to family fun. There is a lake situated along the trail, which is approximately 7.6 miles long. The trail is located on one of Ridgefield’s highest points.
Saugatuck Falls Natural Area: There are several short trail options listed on the above link and many scenic areas to explore Falls Hole at the Saugatuck River with a large cliff.
Booth Hill Brook Trail: This trail is great for families looking for an easy hike in the Trumbull area. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles with a river view and is a good trail for all skill levels. Great for some quality family time outdoors with young children.