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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Visiting Shenandoah National Park in a Day (in winter, with dogs!)


For me, visiting a National Park in the off-season is the best season. Our National Parks are gems to be shared by all but visiting these parks in the summer and fall months means you will be in the company of others, many others. Trails will be packed, parking lots full, and it can be a lot harder to enjoy the quiet of the outdoors when you are in a crowd. 

Winter is a great time to visit our National Parks as with just a few "restrictions", you will be able to see a national treasure without the crowds. Shenandoah National Park is a great place in the winter as clearer skies offer sweeping views across the valley. No traffic, parking is a non-issue, and the trails are perfectly quiet. While I know this park is breathtaking in the fall, we figured it was beautiful enough to visit in the winter too - just in a different way. Of course, we had our dogs with us, and as it turns out that Shenandoah National Park is one of the most dog-friendly National Parks in the U.S. (only 10 trails are off-limits). 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Hiking Hartman Park - Lyme, CT

Living on the preserve means I venture to other hiking areas a little less. It's far too easy to walk out the door and down the road than loading up the dogs in the car and driving to a trailhead. But, as much as I appreciate this large swatch of wilderness that stretches past our home, a change of scenery is always good. It was a sunny Sunday in January, temperatures topping in the high 30's and low 40's. A bright sunny day, not a cloud in the sky and a light breeze at best. January in New England can go either way and this kind of weather on a winter Sunday with limited daylight hours means you pack up the car and head somewhere worthy. 

I had been to Hartman Park a dozen times and joked with Adam I had a bit of "PTSD" from a December visit years ago. While hiking in the park, Olive and her hiking buddy (Thule the golden retriever) took off after a deer and that was the last we saw of them for about five hours. Hartman Park is sort of in the woods in the middle of nowhere and after spending hours following the trail and calling their name, asking any hikers if they had seen this dynamic duo (always no), I was beyond hysterics. The sun was starting to set and snow was falling and I left the park to go grab some bacon for a bacon burn. My parents left their hours to head to the trailhead to search the roads while we ran to the store and as they pulled up to the trailhead, our two lost dogs were there waiting for a ride home. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Hiking East River Preserve - Guilford, CT




East River Preserve is kind of the space that has everything.  Wide-open fields, lots of double-track through the woods, trails following the beautiful East River, wide gravel trails along the powerlines, quiet singletrack through the woods, and more. When I lived in Guilford, it was a spot I went almost weekly and even after moving away, it's still a preserve I keep coming back to.  It can be busy during the weekends but it isn't mobbed by any means.  There are various trailheads throughout town and it i's larger than you think.  A hot sunny morning or a grey winter's day, East River Preserve is the perfect place for a hike during any season.