Mansfield Hollow State Park: Mansfield, CT

"Daddy, this is a wonderful day"

Eli skips ahead as sunlights shines through the trees, casting long evening shadows. The air is cooler now but still holds some humidity. We're moving slowly, carefree and wandering nowhere fast, soaking the warmth of Summer into our souls.

Name: Mansfield Hollow State Park

Location: Mansfield, CT

Difficulty (for little feet): Easy/Medium

Summary: A quick disclaimer: I grew up near here. Since then, I've lived in other parts of New England but after coming back, I realize how truly amazing this little park is, trucked away a few minutes from UConn. 

There are a series of trails which you can link together to make as long of a hike as you want (check out the Mansfield Hollow Park Map here). Typically, for a quick jaunt and a lot of hang time by the water, I park on Bassets Bridge Rd. and follow the Red-Blazed trail to a picnic table/small beach area by the reservoir. This is particularly welcoming towards evening and it's where we went today.

Crossing Bassett's Bridge Rd. to the Red Trail

On the Red Blaze

Early signs of Fall, perhaps?

You enter the park by locating the park shield on Bassets Bridge Rd. Immediately across the street, you can pick up the red trail which spits you out on a scenic dirt road. Follow this until you come out of the forest and turn left towards a picnic area and pine tree (this is where the beach is). The water was so warm and the air so humid, the kids ignored my plea to stay ankle-deep and went ALL IN.

The dirt road that takes you to the reservoir (beautiful in the Fall, especially!)

The dirt road that takes you to the reservoir (beautiful in the Fall, especially!)

It started calm

and quickly escalated to full submersion

which was pretty stinkin' awesome

super duper awesome

super duper awesome

We opted to make ravioli tonight and it was the best choice I've made in a while. (pictured is the GSI Dualist and a generic pocket stove.)

But the park is much bigger than that. Continue on the trail until you reach the dam. Pretty view but climb over it to the other side and you'll see the river disappearing into the distance. Excellent shot. 

My favorite thing about this park is that it has a lot of open space and water. Those are vital elements for successful days with the kids.

Sam has a fearlessness about him that I truly admire

Local tip: When you're about finished, head over to Farmer's Cow for some refreshments or shoot over to UConn Dairy Bar for some refreshing local Ice Cream (I favor the Banana Chocolate Chip or Black Raspberry)!

I hope you check Mansfield Hallow out as it's also great for biking, paddling, star-gazing and just getting outside. Go there!