Local Trail Highlight: Penwood State Park
A long wooded ridge dominates the sunset-side of the Connecticut River Valley in the vicinity of Hartford. Crested atop the northerly portion of the Talcott Mountain Range lies a sizable portion of the public domain, Penwood State Park. With this gift in 1944 to the citizens of Connecticut of nearly 800 acres, Curtis H. Veeder wished only that his beloved hilltop, “be kept in a natural state so that those who love nature may enjoy this property as I have enjoyed it.”
Veeder was an industrialist, inventor and outdoorsman. Early maps of Penwood evidence Veeder’s engineering skill and demand for precise accuracy. Surveying, often after dark, he used a complex theodolite instrument and a flashlight to establish a true meridian line from the exact position of a star. Ardent hikers, Veeder and his wife, Louise, built many trails from which to more intimately observe the wildlife, woodland phenomena and scenic vistas surrounding the mountain. Appropriately, a section of Connecticut’s Blue Blazed Trail system, the Metacomet, now traverses much of Penwood.
In April, as the snow recedes, colorful wildflowers carpet gravelly pockets of soil. The trillium is common as are dutchman’s breeches, hepatica, bloodroot, and trailing arbutus. Occasionally the hiker may glimpse the flight of a pileated woodpecker, turkey vulture or bald eagle. Honoring the donor’s request, ground-fires, horses and camping are excluded from the activities at Penwood.
From I-91 North or South: take Exit 35B which is the Bloomfield Route 218 exit. This road is also known as Cottage Grove Road. Follow Cottage Grove Road heading west until you reach Route 185. Follow Route 185 heading for Simsbury. At the top of the hill, the entrance to Penwood will be on your right.
From I-84 East or West: take the Route 44 Exit. Follow Route 44 heading west until the junction of Routes 10 and 202 in the town of Avon. Follow Route 10 north until you reach Route 185 in Simsbury. Follow Route 185 heading for Bloomfield. At the top of the hill, Penwood is on your left.
View Penwood State Park in a larger map