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Monday, March 11, 2024

Putnam Memorial State Park - Redding, Connecticut

Katie Wanders is something I am so happy to have and proud to share, but it is truly a hobby and a passion project. I work as an Environmental Consultant for a firm I started, where I work on "due diligence environmental site assessments". To put it simply, I write environmental reports covering the history of a commercial property and the current use to decide if there are any environmental concerns before the bank agrees to hand over a loan. Part of my job is physically examining the properties which takes me all over the state of Connecticut, and a lot of the northeast really. I try to break up the drive with a run or a hike somewhere new. A recent work trip to the western portion of the state brought me to a beautiful Connecticut State Park loaded with history that I had never heard of - Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park is much more than your traditional state park with a variety of hiking trails and picnic pavilion. For starters, it is Connecticuts FIRST state park, designated to honor the location of Continental Army's 1779 winter encampment in Redding, Connecticut during the American Revolutionary War. The park offers a museum and visitor's center as well as hiking trails, group camping, fishing, picnicking, and educational signage around the property. There are also yearly events including reenactments, ghost walks, and winter hikes. If you want the full experience and a chance to see the museum and visitor's center, plan to visit between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. If you just want to use the trails and take in the history, the park is open daily dawn to dusk. 

I visited in the late fall when the facilities were all closed. I had Olive with me and walked the one mile loop/auto road, stopping to read various signs and take in the history along the way. The property is absolutely beautiful and during the week late in the season, I only saw a few other dog walkers.

Putnam Memorial State Park


The State Park is referred to as “Connecticut’s Valley Forge”. While the state park was established in 1887, the park is the site of the Continental Army's 1779 winter encampment under the command of General Israel Putnam. During the winter of 1778/1779, 3,000 soldiers camped here to defend the Hudson River Valley and Long Island Sound.

116 huts formed an avenue and at the west end, utilized a mountain brook for their water supply. The second and third camps were established on the southerly slopes of hills. The camps were strategically positioned to defend main highways in and out of town: Danbury to Fairfield; Danbury to Norwalk; Redding to Danbury and points north (stage coach route) -

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park

Need to Know 

Museum and Gift Shop
Open 10am - 5pm, Thursday - Monday, from Memorial Day to Veterans Day
*Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

Auto Road
Historic one-mile loop open to vehicles during seasonal operating hours

Putnam Memorial Map

There are two park entrances, with the park spanning both sides of the road. The walking trails are open to pedestrians, leashed dogs, and cyclists from dawn to dusk year-round. A trail map can be found HERE

Group Camping
This is a popular and favorite spot for scouting organizations and youth groups. Campsites are open from the third weekend in April to Veterans Day. More Info

Dogs and Kids
Yes to both. The gravel auto road is the perfect terrain and distance for kids. Dogs must be on leash.

Ghost Walk - held every other year, in odd-numbered years. It takes place after dark in late October and you can learn the spooky history of the park from local reenactors.

Reenactment Encampment - Every other November (on even-numbered years) you can come experience a Revolutionary War-era re-enactment to celebrate the encampment of 1778-79. You will see how colonial soldiers lived and fought through demonstrations, exhibits, and a skirmish.

Guided Winter Walk - Every year on the the first Saturday of December - an interpretive guide leads the group on a historical and archaeological tour of the park by a reenactment skirmish.

Putnam Memorial State Park

The famous sculpture at the park entrance was donated by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1969 at the age of 93. The story goes in February 1779, General Putnam escaped British Dragoons by riding his horse down 100 stone steps at Horses Neck, Greenwich, Connecticut.

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