Follow The Fall Foliage to Connecticut’s Giuffrida Park

Growing up in Washington state, fall and winter storms are nothing new or surprising.  I grew up on Whidbey Island, in a neighborhood dotted with tsunami evacuation signs. Winter didn’t always bring snow, but it almost always brought power outages, high-wind warnings, debris in the roads and frequent school delays.

I find it funny people on the East Coast formally name their storms Nor’easters. Not to say these storms should be taken lightly, but the formality of it just makes me laugh. So last week we experienced a series of nor’easters, with 50 MPH winds, and a scary reality hit me: will we miss out on all the fall foliage? Between James’ crazy work schedule and my busy pregnancy, time is flying and I refuse to miss out on my favorite season.

The weather finally came around, so last Saturday we ventured out to Giuffrida Park, about an hour drive from Groton.

Located just outside Merdian, Connecticut, the park sits in an assuming spot just off Interstate 91. We were greeted with beautiful, bold fall colors and cold, crisp, October air. The park has an impressive network of trails, many of which you can combine for longer loops. We went for the Chauncey Peak Trail, a “moderate” 2.2. mile loop that took us through flat, wooded meadows and up onto a rocky ridge line. The hike was perfect for our current conditions (me, 33 weeks pregnant, James, still recovering from a foot injury), not to mention our corgi in tow. We took it slow and didn’t break a sweat, and enjoyed every minute of it. 

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Know Before You Go, Giuffrida Park:

  • Parking is limited. The park does not have much parking, so be sure to arrive early to get a spot. We arrived at 9am to a nearly empty parking lot, but when we returned three hours later it was packed. Trucks were parked up on the grass and a few dozens cars overflowed onto the nearby country roads.
  • The park is dog friendly! The park 100% dog-friendly, with different trail options.  Our five-year-old corgi managed the Chauncey Peak Trail just fine. Plenty of opportunities to chase squirrels and field mice.
  • There’s a trail for everybody. Guiffrida Park has four different trail systems, many of which can be combined for longer loops or short trips. The trails are clearly marked by colors – blue, white, red/yellow and black. In the end we combined portions of the blue and white trails, which ended up to be about three miles. Here’s a handy map, also available at the parking lot.
  • Terrain changes. We hiked through a flat, wooded meadow that gradually transitioned into a rocky ridge. At first I thought I was a bit over-zealous wearing my hiking boots, but I’m glad I did. Portions of the trail were covered in fall leaves, so watch out for all the rocks and tree roots.
  • There are no bathrooms. This might not be an issue for most people, but as a 33-week pregnant woman, this was a terrible oversight. Plan accordingly! 🙂

 

Thanks for reading!

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