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Friday, October 27, 2023

Horse Guard State Park - Avon

When you look at the list of Connecticut State Parks, it's a little confusing and definitely overwhelming. You have state parks and scenic reserves and state forests. You have large parks with hundreds of acres and tiny areas that are merely preserved open space. There will be well known popular parks and little spots on the map with barely an entrance sign marking its existence. I'll have to decide what my "State Park Tour"  looks like but for now, there are so many options and I just try to incorporate as many as I can. 

I was in West Simsbury hiking with Piper and the dogs, taking in the peak foliage here in Connecticut when I saw a friend's trail guide for Horse Guard State Park. I knew of the Governor's Horse Guard itself having been to a horse show there (more on that later) but never knew a state park right across the street from the barn and show grounds shared the name.  

Funny enough, this park isn't even in my 2004 reference book about state parks so it must be on the newer side. This is also one of those State Park that is also listed as a "Scenic Reserve".  I couldnt find any information on the CTDEEP website but according to, "The scenic reserve designation typically means that the park does not receive active management or development though this varies across the state park system".

I wouldn't really call this a place to hike as there is one trail that involves walking through a pretty swampy area before a bit of rock scrambling. However, that one less-than-desirable trail is short and does take you to a great scenic overlook, especially in the fall. If you have kids that want to catch a view and scramble up some scree on a relatively short hike (1.2 miles RT), this is a great option. Whether you are trying to tackle all the state parks, or just want a quick hike to a view, consider Horse Guard State Park.

Horse Guard State Park

Distance: 0.6 miles one way, 1.2 miles round trip
Elevation: 260 feet
Trail/parking: The trailhead is off West Avon Road in Avon. There is a CT State Park sign and a small lot for a few cars. The parking is right across from the paddocks of the horse guard.There is one white blazed trail in the park that travels through a swampy area before heading up a boulder/scree area to a scenic vista.
Kids: The beginning is muddy which kids may love, but the end does take a bit of coordination as you navigate the scree field. The short distance makes it great for kids of all ages as long as they can navigate the scree. This may be challenging to navigate with a kid in a pack so just beware. 
Dogs: Allowed but the last bit of scrambling up the scree may be tough for some dogs. Make sure you dog is the mountain goat type or you can help them up the scree. 

Horse Guard State Park Rock Scramble

Horse Guard State Park Trail Map
Horse Guard State Park Trail Map

While there isn't much to say about this small state park, it is directly across the street from a pretty cool property with some horse history (hence the name of the state park). Right from the parking area, you can look across the street and see the horses in their pastures at the Governors Horse Guard property. 

The Connecticut Governors Horse Guard was First organized in 1778, this horse guard is the oldest continuously active Cavalry unit in the United States. The organization maintains United States Cavalry traditions which includes drills on horseback every Thursday evening at 8 p.m if you ever want to add in a visit post hike. There is an application if you too would like to join the guard. More about the horse guard here

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