PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2015, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like hours and pricing.
We managed to sneak in a visit to a beautiful destination last Friday, right before the bad weather rolled in for the weekend! I’m so excited to share with you today our adventure at Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, Connecticut.
The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset starting the second Saturday in April and ending the day after Columbus Day in October. A state park fee is supposedly charged during the week and on weekends, but on the Friday we visited, there wasn’t anyone there collecting parking fees so that could be old information. Anyways, based on the latest park fee chart that I was able to find, the fee is $6 (residents)/$10 (non-residents) on weekdays and $9 (resident)/$15 (non-resident) on weekends. Be sure to bring cash to pay those fees.
The park offers a lot for visitors. They can swim or fish in Schreeder Pond, explore some of the 18 miles of park trails, or enjoy a nice picnic in one of the many picnicking areas.
Before going to Chatfield Hollow, I tried reading up on the destination to figure out which part of the 18 miles of trails we wanted to tackle and what other activities we wanted to do while we were there. But in the end, we completely made it up as we went along (pretty typical for us!)
So, to help you if you decide to visit, I put together the map below summarizing the areas we explored.
We started our adventure by parking right next to the Nature Center and picnic area and having our lunch there. Since we had to pass right through Middletown to get to Killingworth, of course we had to pick up subs from Nardelli’s for lunch. Their sandwiches are starting to become a tradition for our state park outings!
There were plenty of picnic tables in this area where you could eat lunch while enjoying the pretty views of Schreeder Pond. Grills were also available for a slightly fancier meal.
The Oak Lodge Nature Center was nearby but only open on Saturdays and Sundays. We took a look in the windows but weren’t able to go inside.
While looking around, I saw the sign below and of course had to look up the details on the Civilian Conservation Corps. This group was established as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs which were put in place during the Great Depression. Men ages 17-28 could join the group and were assigned to various projects. One of those projects being making improvements to Chatfield Hollow State Park.
After lunch we decided to take the kids on a hike. I really didn’t know which trail to take but I did know that there were supposedly indian caves in the park. My husband checked out the map and we only saw one spot marked as “Indian Caves”. That trail was nice and short (just 0.22 miles) and started not too far from where we were picnicking. We made our way across the bridge and then headed down the main road back towards the park entrance.
Of course we had to stop and check out the beautiful waterfall right under the bridge.
You can see from the map below which trail we decided to take (the green trail at the bottom left).
Pretty soon we spotted the sign for the green trail!
We made our way up the path but then realized we were going to have to make our way back down (and it was a bit steep). Since my husband was with us, we managed fine with the three kids but on my own I would have been a little nervous about that part of the trail. My suggestion would be to walk all the way down to the park entrance, head into the parking lot right there and then take the trail from the parking area. That way you can avoid the steeper part.
This trail was definitely not stroller friendly as it involved a good bit of climbing over rocks.
BUT the rock climbing was a BIG hit with my crew of 2 and 4 year olds. They loved it!
And we were all pretty impressed when we came upon the first Indian cave on the trail. Sweetheart was convinced there was a bear in the cave but the others didn’t seem too worried about what could be inside (thankfully there wasn’t anything inside!)
These pictures can give you a decent idea of what the trail looks like.
Even though the green trail was rocky, it was super short and we made it through in no time at all. We then made our way back down the main road towards the pond and saw this sign for parking and a boardwalk. Well of course we had to check that out!
The parking area (which apparently I didn’t take a picture of) was an overflow parking area for the beach. The boardwalk provided a fun way for us to get back to where we parked so of course we had to take it.
The boardwalk at Chatfield Hollow State Park was manageable in length and tons of fun for the kids. Definitely a stroller friendly pathway as well.
Back on the other side we made our way to where we originally parked (near the Nature Center) and then drove our car over to the swimming area. I needed to change everyone into bathing suits so I figured driving over there would be much easier than trying to figure out another way to get all of us and all of our stuff to the beach.
There were a decent number of parking spaces located right next to the beach so we parked right there. On a busy day (I’m guessing mainly on the weekends) this parking area might fill up and you would then need to park a little ways down the road in the lot that I mentioned before.
There was not a lifeguard at the beach but there was plenty of space for swimming and relaxation. The views were stunning and my kids had a great time in the water and digging in the sand.
Restrooms were located throughout the park with both port-a-potties and single restroom facilities as options but I was surprised that there wasn’t a restroom located right near the beach. They did have changing areas at the beach, but access to restrooms was a little ways down the road, towards the main entrance. Just something to keep in mind if you have kids that need to go to the bathroom every 5 seconds like mine do!
We let the kids swim and play for almost an hour and then it was time for us to start heading home. Before we left, though, I wanted to find the covered bridge and water wheel I had read about online. My husband spotted them on the park map and we saw that we could see them from the main park road. So we got the kiddos changed and back in the car and we drove towards the back of the park to see these two other cute areas. When my kids get a little older it would be fun to take the series of trails that run from the front of the park and end in this area.
And that wraps up our visit to Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth. We lucked out with a beautiful day and a gorgeous (and fun) destination.
- The park opens for the season on the second Saturday in April and closes for the season the day after Columbus Day in October
- In season, the park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – sunset
- The current pricing chart lists the following fees (though no one was collecting fees on the Friday we visited):
- Weekdays: $6 residents/ $10 non-residents
- Weekends and Holidays: $9 residents/ $15 non-residents
- You can also get a season pass which is currently $67 for residents and $112 for non-residents and can be used and many state parks in Connecticut
- You may also be able to get a day pass through your library’s museum pass program.
- Stroller Friendly: SOMEWHAT. The beach area, boardwalk, and main park pathways are stroller friendly. The trails are not.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES.
- Restroom: YES. There are single restrooms and port-a-potties located throughout the park. There is not a restroom located right at the beach, you have to walk a short distance to reach them.
- Baby Changing Station: NO.
- Parking: YES. There are several parking areas.
- Food for Sale: NO.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
- Cash Required: YES. You need it for the parking fees.
- Dress Code: NO.
- Age Recommendations: All ages.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- Discounts: YES. You can purchase a season pass or use your library’s museum pass program for a free day pass.
- Over 18 miles of trails with features like Indian Caves, a covered bridge, and a water wheel
- Swimming at Schreeder Pond
- Nature Center
- Boardwalk through the swamp
- Picnicking areas
- NEW: Musculoskeletal Health Centers – Located in Simsbury, CT, MSH Centers specializes in general chiropractic medicine with a focus on pediatric and prenatal chiropractic care. This fall, they will also offer the first all inclusive fitness center in Connecticut with personal training memberships starting at just $55/month for one session/week.
- The Little Green Tambourine – Located in Canton, CT, this healthy living creative arts studio offers a variety of opportunities for kids to learn and play.
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The state’s only free-standing hospital that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Based in Hartford, Connecticut Children’s also provides services at several locations throughout the state.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT, this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
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