over the Massachusetts border, Nipmuck State Forest and the adjoining Bigelow
Hollow State Park in Connecticut offer plenty of outdoor activities, ranging
from hiking and camping to fishing and geocaching. It’s also a great place to
look for wildlife, like beavers and eagles.
recent guided hike led by Chief Ranger Bill Reid, or “Ranger Bill,” as he said
to call him, my group learned about the 9,000-acre area, which is part of the
Last Green Valley, a National Heritage Corridor composed of 35 towns in eastern
Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts. We chose to hike to Breakneck
Pond, accessed just off the parking lot by Bigelow Pond. The 2-mile roundtrip
is an easy walk along a wide path which intersects with Nipmuck Trail and can
be taken all around the pond (a 6-mile hike). Ranger Bill has been following
the progress of some nesting eagles, but we didn’t catch a glimpse on our hike.
It’s definitely worth bringing binoculars in case you get lucky.
State Forest and Bigelow Hollow State Park are located in the town of Union and
sit within one of the largest unbroken forest areas in Eastern Connecticut.
According to local lore, the name "Bigelow" is derived from
"Big Low" in reference to the deep hollow in which the 18-acre pond of
that name is located. The word "Mashapaug" is the Nipmuck Indian word
for "Great Pond," another pond in the park area.
kids love the shorter Bigelow Pond Loop, a lovely one-mile hike that offers
plenty of rocks to climb and places to stop and explore. It’s also easily
accessed from the parking lot.
Bill also told us about the Last Green Valley’s “Walktober,” which is now in
its 25th year. Walks, strolls, bike rides, paddles, and all sorts of other
events are held throughout the month and are an excellent way to get outside
and enjoy the foliage.
download a schedule on the Walktober website or call 860-774-3300 to
have one mailed to you. Although there are just 31 days in October, there are
more than 200 activities planned!
Get advice on raising the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts in the Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog and find more tips and trip ideas in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s community for families, kids.outdoors.org.