“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times”

  • Asian proverb

There are so many places of interest in our small state of Connecticut that we should never lack for something new to do, or even to  do  again, if one really enjoyed it the first time. Here are some of the excursions that I have really enjoyed- and some of them have the added attraction of being free-of-charge, once you get there.

The West Cornwall Covered bridge is a wooden covered truss bridge built over the Housatonic River in Cornwall, Connecticut. You can drive over the bridge or walk over and take in scenic views upstream and downstream. On the eastern side there is a paved walking trail that follows the river for several hundred yards up the river on the eastern bank. This bridge is found at the junction of routes 7 and 4.

looking upstream from the Cornwall covered bridge Pamm Cooper photo

looking upstream while midway across the Cornwall covered bridge

Kent Falls State Park, located on Route 7 in Kent, features a series of waterfalls that that cascade down 250 feet through the woods. The Falls Brook from the town of Warren is the stream that feeds this series of water falls, and it enters the Housatonic River a quarter mile away after completing its journey down. A hiking trail a quarter mile long is alongside the falls and, although it is steep, it is not a hard walk. There are scenic vantage points and steps built in places along the way.

Kent falls lower section Pamm Cooper photo

Kent Falls at its lowest section


Spikenard abounds in the open woods alongside kent Falls

Also along route 7 in Kent is Bull’s Bridge, a covered bridge that opened in 1842 and which spans a gorge along the Housatonic River.  There is a hydroelectric dam outlet just upstream from the bridge that the water passes through with enormous power. There is a small trail along the river’s edge where the noise and power of the raging water can be viewed safely.

gorge below Bull'S Bridge

Gorge rapids just above Bull’s Bridge

The Thimble Islands are a group of small islands in Long Island Sound in the harbor of Stony Creek in Branford.  These islands are made up of pink granite bedrock, and they are actually the tops of hills that existed prior to the last ice age, rather than deposits of rubble that make up most islands that resulted from retreating glaciers. They are thus very stable islands and many are privately owned, and may have one to several summer homes on them.  There are tour boats that will take you on a 45 minute trip around the islands for under $20.00.

two of the thimble islands Pamm Cooper photo

Two of the Thimble Islands Branford, Ct.

A Thimble Island

Another of the Thimble Islands

Another good trip for people who don’t mind a boat ride and a little maritime history is the Light House Cruise out of New London. Taking approximately 2 hours, this trip is rich with history and scenic views along the Thames River and into Long Island Sound. Some of the lighthouses featured are the New London Harbor lighthouse, on the west entrance to New London Harbor, the Latimer reef lighthouse on Fisher’s Island Sound, and the Race Rock lighthouse, which is part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

Race Rock lighthouse Pamm Cooper photo

Race Rock Lighthouse

In Collinsville, there is an old factory, the Collins Company, which was a world-renowned manufacturer of cutting tools, like axes, machetes, picks and knives. Sited on the Farmington River, this picturesque factory opened in 1826. There is a trail for walking and biking along the Farmington River not too far from this old factory that can be accessed in various places on route 4.

collins company factory

Old Collins Company in Collinsville

Downtown Hartford has many points of interest including Bushnell Park, conceived by the Reverend Horace Bushnell and designed by Hartford native Frederick Law Olmsted. There are many beautiful specimen trees including the state champion turkey oak, and a double-trunked gingko. While at the park, you may want to ride the famous carousel, which is one of only three left in existence that feature the horses carved by Russian immigrants Stein and Goldstein. Downtown Hartford is within walking distance of the park and has many buildings of interest, including the blue windowed 18-story,skyscraper  at the northeast corner of Pearl and Trumbull streets.

State champ[ion turkey oak Quercus cerris Cirumference 17 feet Bushnell Park

State champion tree-turkey oak in Bushnell park

Carousel horse- Bushnell Park in Hartford

Carousel in Bushnell Park in Hartford

gold building reflections downtown Hartford pamm Cooper photo

Building reflected from the Gold Building windows in downtown Hartford

Blue glass skyscraper behind the Mechanics Savings Bank in downtown Hartford -Copyright Pamm Cooper 2013

Skyscraper with blue tinted windows on Pearl Street in Hartford- Pamm Cooper photo

Another good day trip is a visit to Harkness Park in Waterford. Featuring flower gardens, panoramic views of Long Island Sound, and the Roman Renaissance Classical Revival mansion of the Harkness family, this place has something for everyone. There are four 111 year old full thread leaf maple tress creating a stately grove near the owners’ dog cemetery, plus numerous themed gardens with statuary and other features. There is a stretch of beach where you can sit or take a walk, but no swimming is allowed, or you can fish if you like.


Annual cutting garden at Harkness Park

There are many more places of interest in Connecticut that make for interesting day trips, and since we have such a small state, several destinations that are near each other can be undertaken in a single day. Old Wethersfield and Old Main Street in South Windsor both have wonderful old colonial era buildings, for instance, and are a hop, skip and jump away from each other. Most of the places and trips mentioned above require little hiking, and have either dramatic or peaceful sights and sounds unique to their place in the outdoors- like rushing water, views of the sound, boat horns and perhaps the fragrance of flowers.

Newberry rd S.W.

Farm on Newberry Road off historic Main Street in South Windsor

Pamm Cooper



At the June 27th CT Community Gardening Association’s Annual Meeting held at Knox in Hartford, I got my first taste of callaloo. Actually, it was not the Jamaican dish known as callaloo which according to Charmaine Craig, President of CCGA and Program Manager for Knox, typically contains a salt fish and other seasonings. It seems that callaloo recipes, which are especially popular in the Caribbean, vary by availability of greens and by country. The callaloo that I tried tonight was a member of the Amaranth family, sautéed and mixed with salsa and quite delicious, tasting quite similar to spinach. We also sampled radish and broccoli flowers, radish pods, homemade salsa verde, and a most wonderful coleslaw made with locally grown Chinese cabbage. Anyone interested in community gardening is invited to our annual meetings – just bring a dish, your appetite and enthusiasm! Or, become a member and find out what we are doing on a monthly basis.

The Connecticut Community Gardening Association has been around since 2001. With funding and support from Federal, State and Local sources, the first Connecticut Community Gardening Conference was held in September of 2001. Michael Keilty, of the University of Connecticut, spearheaded efforts to organize this first conference and several others. In 2006, CCGA developed bylaws and filed for 501(c)3 status which was granted.

CCGA Board Members and Friends

CCGA Board Members and Friends

Since then, our mission has been to support community gardens in Connecticut by disseminating information, building communities, and assisting in claiming land for environmentally friendly uses. We have been compiling a list of community gardens in CT so that when a perspective community gardener calls or emails, we can direct them to local resources. If you are a community gardener in CT, feel free to contact us at the CCGA website.

Despite the evening’s short but intense deluge, the gardens at Knox were enticing. Refreshed by the rain after the heat of the day, plants were just bursting forth with new leaves, new harvests and new possibilities. Knox serves a number of social, economic and entrepreneurial causes. Gardeners, from all over the world, now living in Hartford, can grow their own food plants in community gardening plots and sell the excess at Farmer’s Markets or other venues.

Knox has over 200 families that garden at 14 sites throughout the city! Plots at these community gardens are moderately priced and include water privileges. The Laurel Street location does offer some rental greenhouse space in spring for those interested in starting their own seeds or cuttings.

Community Garden at Knox Parks in Hartford

Knox offers other community beautification services aside from community gardens. Those lovely planters filled with coleus, petunias, and other tolerant plants are being relocated throughout much of the city of Hartford. Trees are being planted throughout the city. According to a new USDA Forest Service study, ‘urban trees and forests are saving an average of one life every year per city.” http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/news/release/urban-trees-clean-air

Containers for Downtown Hartford

Containers for Downtown Hartford

Community Gardens Rule!