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  • Your East Haddam Guide

Amazing Picnic Spots in East Haddam You Have To Visit

East Haddam is a town filled with plenty of scenic trails and beautiful rolling farmland. It has also several water-front accesses scattered throughout the town’s 36,000 acres. This, of course, makes it a perfect place for both hiking and picnicking.


Few things can compare with spreading a soft blanket out in the middle of a meadow and sitting down to enjoy a meal with someone you care about. Something about eating outside just makes food taste better! These East Haddam picnicking spots are sure to wow, especially if you bring food from a favorite local restaurant along with you.


Just north of the intersection of Connecticut State Highway 82 with Highway 148, Banningwood Preserve has two hiking trails which both cross between the property lines of the towns of East Haddam and Lyme. Parking is located on the Lyme side of the preserve, with access just off of CT-82 at approximately 12 Town Street. The two loops can be done in a figure-eight pattern and are ideal for a combination picnic hike. If doing both a hike and a picnic, start with the yellow trail and head in a clockwise pattern. This will loop you back towards the parking lot to pick up your picnic basket before heading in a counter-clockwise fashion along the red trail. This trail is one of the best and most scenic in the fall because of its gorgeous overlook that looks out towards the Connecticut River. This platform has several benches that you can enjoy your meal on, or spread out a blanket just to the side of the platform in the soft mossy ground of the woods.


A panting dog on a wooden platform overlooking a valley
The overlook at Banningwood is stunning - And the trail is dog friendly!


If you seek the waterfront instead of the woodland, another amazing picnic spot can be found at the Hadlyme Ferry dock adjacent to Gillette Castle State Park. This location has access to several other notable attractions in East Haddam, such as the shipwreck of William Gillette’s Aunt Polly and one of the last remaining active Connecticut River ferries. There is a parking area at Ferry Road in Hadlyme, on the East Haddam side, where visitors can leave their cars and hike all the way up to the Castle. Just off of the parking area is also a public boat launch, and a picnic area just beyond that.


The shore of the Connecticut River on a bright sunny day.
Looking north upriver from the Selden III dock in Hadlyme

Although this spot may have a bit more activity and be less quiet than Banningwood Preserve, it has equally gorgeous views. Take in the sights and sounds of the various watercraft heading up and down the river, as well as watch the arrivals and departures of Selden III, the passenger ferry named after Selden’s Island where a pirate treasure is rumored to be buried. The picnic area is sunny and welcoming and is also easily accessed from the water. This makes is the perfect picnic spot not only if you want to go for a swim, but also if you are traveling up the river by boat and are looking for some place to rest and eat.


While these two locations are the most amazing places to picnic in East Haddam, they are definitely not the only ones. Other riverfront picnicking areas include Goodspeed Landing and Sunrise Resort State Park on the Salmon River. The Nathan Hale School House as well as the Davison Memorial Walking Park also offer stunning views from high vantage points.


If you’re in the area and are working up an appetite, consider getting some food to-go from the local cafes and restaurants. Almost all of the businesses in the area offer some form of take-out that you can bring along to these spots. You may even want to grab one of East Haddam's best sandwiches to take along on your hike.


Did you find an amazing picnicking area on your trip through East Haddam? Let us know in the comments!

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