Local Trail Spotlight: Hartman Park
By Guest Blogger Paul Parulis
Hartman Park is an outstanding piece of property located in Lyme, CT. In actuality, I will be discussing the much bigger park that includes three tracts of land – Hartman, The Walbridge Woodland and The Young Preserve. For convenience I will refer to all of these together as Hartman Park. These three are all connected by an extensive trail system. All together these parcels include almost 15 miles of cleared hiking and biking trails. And if that’s not enough for your workout, these properties boarder Nehantic State Forest land that at least doubles the size of beautiful forest land at your disposal. The location of Hartman Park is on Gungy Road near the borders of Lyme, East Lyme and Salem. Trailhead parking is about 5 miles from the end of Rt.11 where it joins Rt. 82 in Salem. You can read more about this park and print out trail maps by going to – http://www.lymelandtrust.org/trails-properties/
Hartman Park has long been a destination for mountain bike riders in Southeastern CT. My son used to ride there two decades ago when he was in High School shredding the trails with Garmin-Sharp Pro Cyclist Tom Danielson. Since those days, the park has been turned over to the Town of Old Lyme and is maintained by the Lyme Land Conservation Trust. I can speak firsthand about these trails because I am a member of the Land Trust and have spent many hours helping with the maintenance and development of new trails. I guess that makes me a real ‘trailblazer.’
Hartman Park has a very diversified topography that includes old gravel road, old carriage trail, steep hillside singletrack and miles of rolling trail through beautiful hardwood forest. One feature you will notice no matter which part of the park you are in is the lovely old stone walls and rock foundations that seem to be everywhere. You will find wooden walkways and bridges over most water crossings. If you decide to explore the trails, I suggest you keep a map handy because many trails cross other trails and there are some colored trails, such as Red and White that are found in more than one location.
The two longest trails are located in the old Hartman parcel. These are the 2 ½ mile Red “Nubble & Ridges” trail and the 3 mile Orange “Heritage” loop trail. Both of these trails are fairly rustic and require hiking some steeper grades occasionally. Both abound with scenic forest and wetlands. The Orange trail, along the Chapman Ridge, shares a section of trail with Nehantic State Forest. This section is quite steep after it crosses the Tween Brook.
If you would like to make the grand tour of the entire Park I would suggest that you start at the Beaver Pond which is a short walk down the gravel Park Road. At the outdoor School Room pick up the Red trail and follow it to its termination at the Park Road. Take a left and follow the Park Road a short distance then take a right onto the Orange trail. Follow the Orange along the Chapman Ridge, down the Big Scramble over to the Lee Hill. On the top of Lee Hill take a left onto the new White trail. This trail follows along the edge of the Nehantic Forest into the Walbridge Woodlands. In about a ½ mile find the Yellow trail and take it left. This will connect you to the new Red trail loop that is in the Young Preserve. About half way around the Young Preserve you will come to a short spur that takes you to a steep overlook. After enjoying the view, complete the Red trail loop which brings you back to the Yellow trail and the Walbridge Woodlands. When you meet the White trail again, take a left and follow it along an old carriage trail and then down the hill toward Gungy Road. The White Walbridge trail will end at the Lee Farm road trail where you will follow it north back to the Park Road. Take the Park Road left and follow this back to the parking area on Gungy Road. Altogether this route will be about 7+ miles and encompass many of the wonderful features of this park. Bring your lunch and spend the day, this park is a real treat.