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Hiking is one of my favorite activities on a summer day.  When everyone else is headed to the beach, I’m headed to the woods.  Maybe it’s the relative peace and quiet and proximity to nature.  Maybe it’s the sense of adventure in wandering off the main trail and seeing where a path leads.  Either way, I have greatly enjoyed exploring the many trails throughout Connecticut.

Trails can be found almost anywhere you look in the state, though they are more numerous outside of Fairfield County.  There are numerous local and state parks full of interesting trails through a variety of terrains.  And then there are nameless trails that start at the side of the road and disappear into the forest.  But the highlight of Connecticut hiking is the Blue Blazed Hiking Trail System, which consists of over 825 miles of trails.  They are marked with a square blue blaze on the trees that line the trail, and it is hard to get lost as long as you follow the blue blazes.  Below is a map of all of the blue blazed hiking trails, which was created by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA), an organization which maintains the trails:

CT_Overview_Trails_Map_2012

Connecticut Blue Blazed Trail Map (via http://www.ctwoodlands.org/TrailsMap)

If you live in Connecticut, or happen to be passing through, then you can use this map to find some of the best trails in the state.  It also shows where many of the state parks are, and how the trails connect to the parks.  In the upper left hand corner, you can also see a section of the Appalachian Trail which passes through Connecticut.

I grew up not too far from the Shenipsit Trail, so that’s the one that I’m most familiar with, and it also looks like one of the longest blue blazed trails in the state.  Many of these trails have Native American names give to them by the tribes that originally created the trails.  The Shenpisit, for example, means “at the great pool”, because the trail passed by a lake.

Before highways and roads, people got around by these trails.  When I walk along them, sometimes I feel like I’m walking through history, upon the same path that our forefathers walked centuries ago.  Organizations such as the CPFA do a great service in conserving land and maintaining trails so that residents of the state can continue to enjoy them for generations to come.

And let us not forget, of course, the work that must go into mapping these trails.  The CFPA also publishes guidebooks with maps for all blue blazed trails in the state, which can be found in libraries and purchased from their website (ctwoodlands.org).

Happy Hiking!

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