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Saturday, June 11, 2022

Hammonasset Beach State Park - Madison, CT

Connecticut State Park #5 is one I have been to many, many times. It's only 20 minutes away and while many go for the beach, I almost always come for the paved recreation path and more recently, the nature center. 

I always appreciated a good rec path and seek them out while traveling through the state or around New England. Rec paths appeal to everyone of every ability for a few reasons: they are often flat, exist in a super scenic area, and provide a safe place for any non-motorized activity. I've seen people walk, run, hike, bike, scooter, rollerblade, you name it when visiting the park. 

Once I had Whitney, I learned to appreciate these dedicated pedestrian lanes even more as a safe place to run. Exercise is a priority for my physical and mental health and finding the time to fit it into my busy day usually involves bringing Whitney along for the ride. I run around our neighborhood a lot out of pure convenience (right out the door) and safety (quiet roads with cul-de-sacs). The only problem is it's very hilly and sometimes you just need some flat roads and a change of scenery. 

I started upping my mileage to include some long runs and knew I was bringing Whitney. It had been a while since I visited Hammonasset State Park a few towns over in Madison, Connecticut. It's known for its paved rec path through the park, beach access, campground, and nature center. It's all in the details like the rentable pavilions here families host birthday parties, the playground along the path, water stations along the trail (attached dog water stations included), boardwalks, a nature center, and some trails through the park. It's a great family-friendly place. 

I wanted to add a little more distance so instead of parking inside the park, I parked at the Shoreline Greenway Trail Parking Area off Boston Post Road, followed the beginning of the greenway trail, and continued on the rec path through Hammonasset down to the end. From the parking area to the end of the park and back, it was just about 5 miles. I added one mile on the neighboring street just to get to six miles. It was the perfect place for a long (flat) safe, run. It was a great run with distracting views and the perfect breeze. I even spent a few minutes in the parking lot chatting with some fellow stroller-running moms. We compared strollers and I even let them take mine for a jog around the parking lot. Stroller running is not for the faint of heart, we have to stick together. 

I went back last week but this time, I had both kids in tow and we made it in time to visit Meig's Point Nature Center. 

Meigs Point Nature Center 

Closed Mondays

April - October: Tuesday - Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

November - March: Tuesday - Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm


Hammonasset Beach State Park is Connecticut's largest shoreline park and offers over 2 miles of beach. 

Hammonasset Beach State Park was opened to the public in July of 1920 and attracted over 75,000 visitors in its first season. An interesting tidbit not many know is that during World War II the park was closed to the public and loaned to the federal government as an army reservation where Meigs Point was used as an aircraft range. 

Hammonassset is one of the state's most popular parks with over three million visitors annually.


Biking, picnicking and retable pavilions, camping, fishing, car top boating, swimming, small playground, walking trails, rec path, and a Nature Center 

Rec path:  has a paved, multi-use trail (no motors allowed). The paved path runs 1.9 miles for a 3.8-mile out-and-back walk. Expect to share the trail with walkers, bikers, runners, dogs, and kids heading to the beach. To tack on extra mileage, park at the Shoreline Greenway Trail outside the park on Boston Post Road. 

Nature Center: 


The park is free to Connecticut Residents, but there is a daily fee charged at the gate for non-residents


Dogs are allowed on the paved recreation trail all year round. They are not allowed on the campground, boardwalks or the beach in the summer (they are allowed on the beach from October 1 to April 1). 


There are restrooms, water stations, a snack shack, and boardwalks along the trail. You can also find a playground and fitness station at the beginning of the path by the campground. 


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