If you haven’t guessed, I love to take walks and hikes. Over the last four years I’ve explored many area trails with my boys (the shorter and easier ones of course) and here are my favorites.
- Lots of trail variety to come back and explore again
- Unique natural or manmade features that my kids love (water, bridges, big rocks etc.)
- Short loops or out and back trail that can be done in under an hour (usually 30 minutes)
Goodwin Exercise Trails in Lebanon. This is by far my favorite trail to go back to. It has all the highlights. The kids love all the bridges and it’s easy to do a loop in under a half hour for both my 2 year old and 4 year old without getting tired. Skipping rocks and snack on the big bridge is a definite bonus! Sometimes we make it all the way to the waterfall, but it’s easier and quicker to get to on the Route 120 side (like a 5 min walk).
Lower Shaker Trails in Enfield. We love the big field with farm equipment and beautiful vista at the parking lot. There’s a cool bridge and a brook too we like. This is a network of trails so we get to pick where we want to explore and that’s always fun. We always have to turn around before finishing any loop, but who cares.
Lower Grant Brook Trails in Lyme. A quick 15-20 minute walk down brings you to a beautiful waterfall. We can walk down and sit on the rocks and admire while eating a snack. Water features on trails can make me nervous but this one definitely doesn’t. You can also go another way and walk along the brook. We all love this one.
Brookside Park in Grantham. Picnic tables, a quick 30 minute loop, lots of shallow water to play in and even wade in, and massive rocks to explore. There are even labeled ecological features if you want more of an educational experience. Pair this with the playground down the road and you have an awesome day trip.
Chamber Memorial Reserve in Lebanon. I love this wooded trail network that overlooks the river. You can try different trails in the heart of woods and not get lost because it’s more sparsely wooded. Extra photos.
Starr Hill in Lebanon. This is an a great network of trails that are easy to walk around.
S. Esker Trails in Hanover. This is an easy half hour loop with beautiful views of the river. There’s a big open expanse of trees that is just breathtaking. A really relaxing trail.
Hurricane Forest in Hartford. This is a great loop with a few trail spurs to add variety. We can do a whole loop in a half hour. The bonus is the view from the parking area since the trail is on a hill.
Paradise Park in Windsor. This trail network rocks. You can see the lake, walk across a bog on wooden slats (which is fun) to a gazebo and a meadow, walk along the lake on a narrow ridge trail, walk through beautiful expanses of woods, play lawn games on their big open grassy, and (our favorite) have lunch at the picnic table.
Riverside Park in Lebanon. A quick walk by the river, time playing on the playground, and a place to picnic. This is a win. My two year old is able to walk the whole out and back trail. There is a portion that is more open to the road so we stay extra close then. We like to collect acorns on this trail. Last time we examined the holes the animals made in the ground.
Colette and Bicknell Brook Trail. These trails are longer. We were able to do the Colette Trail down to the lake look out and back but my kiddos were tired on the way back. The Colette trail is beautiful with little water falls and a view of the lake. We’ve seen ducks too. I only did this trail after a long time of knowing my kids are safe on the trail and not going to go exploring the water. Bicknell Brook has a nice meandering brook so I would atttempt this one first if you’re new to woodsy walks with a toddler and water features. You can explore the water and feel safe. We enjoyed jumping from the big rocks on this trail too and scrambling over the stone wall. I have never finished the brook trail.
Other trails that are good. We love the trail variety of Farnum Hill Trails, good workout. We of course love the rail trail and picnic at the Mill Road picnic area. We also like the quick loop at Alana Cole trail. Try the secret trail behind Kmart or Mink Brook with it’s cool bridge. Albert Schweitzer Trails at Dartmouth have always been a favorite. We love picnicing and doing the short walk along the river at Kilowatt Park North. Try the short King Arthur Trail and longer Heyl Trail in Norwich.
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