HEALTHY LIVING: Local trails in Meriden, Wallingford have plenty to offer

HEALTHY LIVING: Local trails in Meriden, Wallingford have plenty to offer

With decorations at the forefront of many stores and troves of eager shoppers starting to flood local retail establishments, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the impending holiday season.

Getting outside to one of central Connecticut’s many natural wonders for some outdoor fun makes for a great way to ease the mind, and the body, during this busy time of year.

One of my personal favorite spots is Giuffrida Park in Meriden. As a child I would frequently hike the scenic reservoir with my sisters and my father. This past Saturday was no different.

As my dad and I made our way around the park, we took note of the burnt orange foliage and the many geological changes the park has undergone since we first started hiking it in the early 2000s.

The water was high, and steadily spilling over the dam. With wind speeds around 20 mph, the ripples in the cyan-colored reservoir painted a picturesque version of the quintessential New England landscape as the golden leafed trees swayed atop the Chauncey Peak trail.

Giuffrida offers hikers many different trails with varying difficulty levels – the peak trail, the park loop, and the Bradley Hubbard Reservoir loop. Nearby Higby Mountain in Middlefield offers a more challenging selection of trails for novice and seasoned hikers alike. It’s about four miles to the mountain’s peak with breathtaking aerial views of central Connecticut. At 828 feet above sea-level, and visibility spanning all the way to Long Island Sound, it’s no wonder why this clearly marked blue-blazed hiking trail is an area favorite.

Giuffrida Park and Higby Mountain are integral parts of the overarching Mattabesset trail. They are also both a part of the Blue Trail System, which is maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. The CFPA offers an interactive map of all the state’s blue-blazed trails that allows you to plan your hike remotely. There are 825 miles worth of these trails open year-round, with plenty of options to choose from, ranging from short footpaths, perfect for young children, to challenging rocky running trails.

The Quinnipiac Linear Trail in Wallingford is a great option for walking, biking, and rollerblading. This paved path begins at Community Lake and was recently expanded to downtown Yalesville. The trail is home to one of Connecticut’s oldest Red Oak trees and is frequently enjoyed by Wallingford residents.

Trails that extend through Meriden and Cheshire are also local havens for runners, rollerbladers, and bikers alike.

I’m always equipped with a pair of rollerblades in my trunk for when the holiday overwhelm sets in and I need to ground myself in the giant trees and soothing streams along the Quinnipiac trail. Expect to have some close encounters with nature as you make your way along these scenic routes, as they are home to deer, salamanders, wild turkey and geese. 

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford resident,  NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris –