A long wooded ridge dominates the sunset-side of the Connecticut River Valley in the vicinity of Hartford. Crested atop the northerly portion of the Talcott Mountain Range lies a sizable portion of the public domain, Penwood State Park. With this gift in 1944 to the citizens of Connecticut of nearly 800 acres, Curtis H. Veeder wished only that his beloved hilltop, "be kept in a natural state so that those who love nature may enjoy this property as I have enjoyed it." Veeder was an industrialist, inventor and outdoorsman. Early maps of Penwood evidence Veeder's engineering skill and demand for precise accuracy. Surveying, often after dark, he used a complex theodolite instrument and a flashlight to establish a true meridian line from the exact position of a star. Ardent hikers, Veeder and his wife, Louise, built many trails from which to more intimately observe the wildlife, woodland phenomena and scenic vistas surrounding the mountain. Appropriately, a section of Connecticut's Blue Blazed Trail system, the Metacomet, now traverses much of Penwood. In April, as the snow recedes, colorful wildflowers carpet gravelly pockets of soil. The trillium is common as are dutchman's breeches, hepatica, bloodroot, and trailing arbutus. Occasionally the hiker may glimpse the flight of a pileated woodpecker, turkey vulture or bald eagle. Honoring the donor's request, ground-fires, horses and camping are excluded from the activities at Penwood.
This was an awesome hike, done as a loop from the Rt 185 parking lot area. Headed north on the Yellow blazed trail continuing north on the Orange blazed trail to Wintonbury Rd. U-Turn and return south on the Blue blazed Metacomet Trail. Awesome views to the west as you run up and down this ridge line, especially from the Pinnacle, on the Metacomet. I gained a great appreciation and understanding for what Traprock is, and hence the term "Traprock Ridge" all makes sense to me now. A strong recommend. 1033' vertical gain, 6.4 miles RT, approx 3 hrs 15 mins. with a few stops for lunch and photo ops.
Great easy to moderate trail, we did the blue and orange trails. Only downside is the trees are poorly marked at some areas making it difficult to stay on path. We hiked for a total of 4 hours and I would definitely do it again and recommend it to hikers at all levels. The view is much better than Talcott too!! 5 stars.
I have done this hike with a friend, who had a baby in a backpack. We ended up hiking over 4 miles. The only reason I gave it 4 starts and not 5, is the trails aren't always clearly marked and you almost feel as if you are lost. Now that I have done the trail once, it should make the next time easier. The views are beautiful once you get higher up.
Day H. on Penwood State Park Trail
Starting from the parking lot off Rt 185, I took the yellow to orange to blue. GPS says it was 6.31 miles. It was a good hike with some nice views and some strenuous parts but don't think I would do it again. I was a little disappointed at how short the trail was and the "lake" was a disappointment. I've seen puddles bigger than that. It was pretty but definitely not what I expected.
Yellow and orange were easy forest walking. Yellow had one or two nice lookout points to the mountains in the west. The map I had was slightly misleading as it showed a white trail that connected yellow and orange, but that white didn't exist and yellow connected right to orange. There is also a gravel trail that runs from the parking lot to the lake and at times it is so close to the yellow trail you could touch it. Orange trail ends at the beginning of Wolcox Park and here blue Metacomet has a rather steep but relatively short incline up. My biggest complaint with the northern part of the blue is that there are many unmarked trails that intersect it and blue is not clearly marked at these intersections. But a little effort and sense and you can follow blue without much difficultly.
At one point the Metacomet has a great vista where you can see a long way and can even see Hublien Tower. I saw a couple people but at the parking lots at both ends, no one on the trails. I saw a decent amount of wildlife which added a nice touch. However if your looking for quiet this is not the place. The airport is not to far away and there were constantly low flying aircraft overhead drowning out the forest sounds.