Happy summer, Out and About readers! I hope you’re all…well…out and about and enjoying all that the warmer weather has to offer. And thank GOD for it. If there’s one thing that can cure summer vacation cabin fever it’s fresh air and loads of sunshine. And running. Always with the running.
Bug has been fairly busy so far this season with swimming lessons and some day-camp style activities, but Bean and I are often left to our own devices during these humid early days of summer. Sure, we could hunker down in the central A/C but 1) we don’t have it and 2) a little mugginess never slowed the Beatty family down…much! As my husband is fond of saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” So, despite the fact that this spring and summer have been one of the wettest on recent record, we are getting out there! On one cool, wet day in June, we tugged on our water-resistant boots and struck out to discover the winding wooded paths of the Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Glastonbury.
As far as hikes go, the trails at the Center are not necessarily challenging, but they are a little hilly and definitely aren’t “stroller-friendly,” starting with the loose gravel parking lot. If you were considering simply stopping in at the gift shop and visitor center, you could probably navigate a stroller through the lot and onto the paved walkway up to the building, but otherwise you’ll want to bring a carrier or simply plan to take it easy and be prepared to pick your kiddo up if the path gets too challenging for them. We opted for the latter.
Despite what the pictures suggest, we actually did not start our visit in the center. More on that later! Instead, we bore right and headed down a path of woodchips toward the outdoor raptor enclosure. It’s easily visible from the parking lot.
There are three birds of prey that call the Audubon Center at Glastonbury their permanent home: Cookie, a barred owl; Buddy, a broad-winged hawk; and Trinity, a red-tailed hawk. All three wouldn’t survive in the wild because they suffer physical impediments resulting from being struck by a car, but they were fortunate enough to be rehabilitated to the fullest extent possible and cared for at Audubon. PLEASE NOTE: do not bring injured wildlife to the Glastonbury Audubon Center or any other CT Audubon location. The staff are not trained to care for animals in distress. However, some helpful information on giving injured wildlife the best chance of survival can be found here: CT Audubon Society – Injured, “Abandoned,” or “Orphaned” Wildlife.
Though it’s sad that these birds weren’t able to return to the wild, it truly is amazing to see them up close. Learning about the animals that make their home alongside us gives kids a respect and love for nature that few other things can. Though Bug wasn’t with us on our trip this day, he is a big fan of Cookie the owl. Meeting her has made him more interested and engaged with birds of all kinds. They’re wonderful ambassadors for their kind.
After Bean and I visited with Cookie, Trinity, and Buddy, we set forth in earnest on our hike.
There are not many seating opportunities along the path, but this bench could serve as a lovely shady spot for a snack (as long as you bring any wrappers with you when you leave…no littering!).
Two miles of shady wooded trails snake their way through the adjacent Earle Park. The trails pass by and over Tom’s Pond and Holland Brook and, though I’ve never done it myself, I’m told you can get all the way down to the CT River if you follow the trail to its end. The walk I’ll describe creates a fairly easy loop that can be completed at a leisurely pace in about half an hour, if that. However, you can tailor your hike to your preference and stay out as long as you’d like! And when all else fails, you can always turn around and go back the way you came if you feel uncertain. An easily printable trail map is available here: Earle Park Trail Map.
When we reached the pony field right near Tom’s Pond we took a right to head over a nearby footbridge that crosses Holland Brook.
After crossing the bridge we continued to follow the path to where it ended at a gravel pathway, turned left, skirted a field to the edge where it met the adjacent orchard, took another left, and followed the trail back to where it crossed Holland Brook (at a different spot) and looped back around to Tom’s Pond. Phew! It’s looked a little like this:
Again, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the hike was challenging because we adopted a leisurely pace and still finished fairly quickly, but I also don’t want to mislead anyone – the path was steep and uneven in places so I did have to pick up and carry my wobbly walker several times.
However, even if you had no plans to do a nature walk, you can bring your little ones to enjoy the nature center, which is exactly how Bean and I rounded out our trip. There’s a lovely little gift shop with bird-themed gifts, books, and even birdseed, there are animals to visit, there are books to look at, and there are nature-themed coloring pages and crayons for the artistically inclined.
And of course, one of my blog posts wouldn’t be complete without talking about the bathrooms. There are, indeed, public restrooms to use in the center, though there is not a changing table.
In the interest of full disclosure, I need to confess something: I am a fully-fledged bird nerd (pun absolutely intended). We have a family membership with the Audubon Society and my husband and I love bird watching. Bug will be participating in the Audubon’s Glastonbury Center Summer Camp for the third year running (and no, it’s not too late to sign-up). That being said, I would recommend visiting the Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Glastonbury both to the nature enthusiast and the merely curious. It is a lovely, casual environment that is free to enjoy. Why wouldn’t you make it part of your summer plans?
1361 Main Street, Glastonbury, Connecticut
Phone: (860) 633-8402
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kate Reamer, Glastonbury Center Director)
Nature Center Hours:
Monday – Thursday
10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Earle Park (location of walking trails): open sunrise to sunset every day
FREE! (But donations are always welcome; there is a donation box just inside the entrance to the Nature Center.)
- Stroller Friendly: NO (though if you were just visiting the nature center, you could probably manage a stroller)
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES
- Restroom: YES
- Baby Changing Station: NO
- Parking: YES
- Food for Sale: NO (not for humans, at least…just birds)
- Outside Food Allowed: YES, there are picnic tables and places to eat outside the building (but be sure to clean up after yourself!)
- Cash Required: NO (Unless you’d like to make a donation via the donation box at the entrance)
- Dress Code: Dress for the weather and be sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray
- Age Recommendation: All ages!
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES
- Birthday Party Venue: YES. Visit https://www.ctaudubon.org/2016/10/birthday-parties-at-the-center-at-glastonbury/ for more information.
- Discounts: N/A
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