The Best Winter Hiking In East Haddam -
Winter in New England is often filled with cold weather and snow, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck in the house! East Haddam has some beautiful open-space preserves that are open to the public year round. When there’s a temporary thaw in the cold winter weather and you want to stretch your legs, consider visiting these three hiking trails for some easy winter hiking that includes beautiful vistas and interesting sights.
Chapman’s Pond - 187 River Road
Chapman’s Pond is a nature preserve located a short distance north of Gillette Castle State Park. The preserve is named for the large, sheltered body of water that has two outlets to the Connecticut River. In the summer the pond is a beautiful place for swimming. But in the winter the pond will, during colder weather, freeze over due to its nature of being sheltered from the main flow of the river. The frosted pond is not the most spectacular part of this hike however. The entrance area, just off of the parking area, sits about 150 feet above the pond and this large change in elevation results in waterfalls and streams that are breathtaking when covered with ice and snow. The hiking paths themselves are well-maintained by the East Haddam Land Trust so they’re great for hiking in the winter and taking in the frosty sights.
Banningwood Preserve - Town Street, Lyme
Banningwood Preserve is a perennial favorite. One of the most amazing picnicking areas in East Haddam, this figure-eight hike is also a great one to do in the winter. With property that spans both East Haddam and Lyme, the main parking area is located on the Lyme part of Town Street. From there, the trail brings you along Roaring Brook which is a beautiful natural water feature where ice can pile up. The gurgling and bubbling of the water through the ice is one of the most serene and relaxing ways to enjoy nature and the winter weather.
There are two trails at the Banningwood Preserve: A red and a yellow. The yellow trail is the Roaring Brook trail so if you’d like to finish the hike along the brook, it’s recommended to go in a counter-clockwise loop by starting out on the red trail.
Yankee Cider Company - 23 Petticoat Lane
Between hikes in East Haddam you may find yourself looking for something to do. Within a mile of both Banningwood and Chapman’s Pond you’ll find one: Yankee Cider Company. This hard cider producer is located on Petticoat Lane and calls a beautiful, century-old barn its home.
Hard cider is a traditional colonial drink that has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years. It is an alcoholic beverage, in contrast with its autumn non-alcoholic counterpart known as “cider” or “sweet cider”. Yankee Cider Company specializes in hard ciders made with apples that are grown right there on the farm. The tap room is open year-round, with seasonal hours throughout the winter months. With twelve draft lines, the most of any Connecticut cidery, there are plenty of hard ciders to try. A tap menu can be accessed on Yankee Cider’s website, here. In addition to hard ciders, the tap room also offers wines from Staehly Farm Winery. In the summer months there are also guest food trucks that periodically visit the farm.
Stop in and support this local business in between hikes, and definitely if you’re on your way between one end of town and another. Winter hours are available on Yankee Cider’s website, here.
Sunrise Resort State Park -
In a bygone era, Sunrise Resort State Park would have made the list for the Best Summer Hiking in East Haddam. However the once bustling summer resort was sold to the State of Connecticut and turned into a state park in 2009. The result has been the removal of most of the structures on the property but also an explorer’s paradise, particularly in the winter months. The summer resort had paved roadways and paths that make for excellent hiking in the winter months. Although the State of Connecticut doesn’t plow the roads, the presence of paved roads and trails makes for easy access for even the most limited individuals during the winter months. For those who enjoy exploring, the foundations of the structures still exist as well as many other ruins from various eras of the summer resort that was most popular during the 1950s.
One of the most notable and impressive features is the park’s access to the Salmon River. The Salmon River is one of only a handful of Connecticut River tributaries that experiences extensive ice-pack during the winter months. Depending on the intensity of the winter weather each year, the headwaters of the Salmon River develop extensive sheets of ice when the weather has prolonged periods of freezing temperatures. These sheets of ice build up and make their way downriver, passing by the river access available at Salmon River State Park. If the timing is right, visitors to the park can go on a hike along the riverfront and experience a remarkable and unique view of these natural ice formations.
But the park is also notable for its excellence as a cross-country skiing destination. Machimoodus State Park is a distinct property but is an adjacent neighbor to Sunrise State Park. Machimoodus has its own parking area, but both parks can be accessed from either of the parking areas. As part of its property boundaries, Machimoodus boasts the tallest point in East Haddam and the village of Moodus: Mt. Tom. Known for its significance as a Native American ceremonial site and also as a rich access vein of the State’s gemstone, garnet, Mt. Tom is a remarkable natural feature. Several trails, which are actively maintained by Friends of the Park non-profit groups, make Mt. Tom accessible even after light snow. Hike the trail to the top and experience a beautiful vista that looks out over Johnsonville, Connecticut’s haunted ghost town, as well as most of Moodus. But the park’s biggest claim to winter fame is with cross country skiing. This park has many open fields and gentle slopes, which makes for easy and accessible skiing in the area.
So if you’re itching to break up the monotony of the winter and need to beat that cabin fever, consider getting out of the house to enjoy one of these great winter hikes in East Haddam. If you get hungry there are also several local restaurants that offer both sit-down and to-go options.
Do you have a favorite hike in East Haddam during the winter? Let us know in the comments!