sunlight in the woods

10.7.20 ~ Goose Pond, Haley Farm State Park
Groton, Connecticut

Due to illnesses and the births of grandchildren and other distractions I’ve never had a chance to participate in Robin’s Walktober invitation. See here if you think you might be interested in taking a walk and posting a blog about it: This is it: Walktober! Finally, this year, I can join in! Tim & I took this walk at Haley Farm State Park on October 7th.

starting out

Two things have worked to keep us very close to home this year. Health problems and the coronavirus pandemic. And this has led us to discover that our hometown has over 3,500 acres of open space preserved, 17% of the town’s total land area. We have 463 acres in land trusts, 1,511 acres in town and city recreation and conservation areas, and 1,586 acres in three state parks. (We live in the tiny City of Groton, which is part of the Town of Groton, and yes, we pay property taxes to both!)

meadow and woods, just a hint of fall colors

We started walking south, the narrow boardwalk leading to a wide dirt road following along Palmer Cove.

meadow obscuring view of Palmer Cove

Connecticut’s first governor, John Winthrop Jr., owned part of the farm in 1648. Over the years the land passed through various hands, including the Chester family in the 18th century, whose headstones are still on the property. When Caleb Haley owned and farmed the land in the late 19th to 20th centuries, he had a very unique hobby which can be seen throughout the park – the building of stone walls. Boulders found on the property were extracted and placed by an ox drawn stone-puller. The walls separated a number of pastures. Some remains of the farm’s buildings are still visible near the entrance of the park.
~ Haley Farm State Park website

white on light with orbs

Ahead: glimpses of Palmer Cove and one of Caleb Haley’s many stone walls.

waning gibbous moon setting over the woods
looking back down the road behind us

And then the road eventually led us into the woods, narrowed to a trail, and to the locally well-known Canopy Rock, a glacial erratic and favorite hang-out spot for local teens. We didn’t climb up there. πŸ™‚

Canopy Rock

We cut through the woods to return to the parking lot, consulting the park map frequently because there are so many criss-crossing, unmarked trails in this 267 acre park. The stone walls are also indicated on the map, which was helpful in determining which path we might be on. map

sunlight in the woods

In 1963, efforts to protect the farm from being sold to developers began. The State of Connecticut agreed to match funds raised for the purchase of the farm. The Groton Open Space Association with the help of The CT Forest & Park Association led a successful fund raising effort that led to the purchase of the property. In July of 1970, Life Magazine featured an article on Haley Farm titled “Battles Won”. Haley Farm became an official Connecticut State Park in July of 1970. Nearby Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve was protected from great development pressures and was saved in 1975. It can be reached from Haley Farm via a bridge over the railroad tracks. The two parks, combined, offer over 1000 acres of land and are permanently protected as open space for public enjoyment.
~ Haley Farm State Park website

a path to follow another day
autumn art in a grassy meadow

Living in the southernmost part of New England, we will be the last to get a peak of fall colors. More brilliant days to look forward to. Thank you, Robin, for hosting Walktober!

42 thoughts on “sunlight in the woods”

    1. Me, too! So many trails so close to home, how to choose which one, which day? It’s nice having too many choices. πŸ™‚

    1. How nice to see you, Jeff! πŸ™‚ Since we live in the “Submarine Capital of the World,” home to one of the largest Navy submarine bases in the world, and Electric Boat, which manufactures subs, and a research branch of Pfizer, the multinational pharmaceutical corporation, I’ve always felt like we live in a very industrial town. So I have been totally amazed by just how much open space has been preserved around us!

    1. Thank you, Melissa! πŸ™‚ Do you have Walktober activities in your area? The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, just north of here, is celebrating 30 years of Walktober, with “more than 130 walks, hikes, historic tales, paddles, bike rides, farm visits.” Of course, a lot of the plans have been modified or cancelled due to the pandemic this year.

      1. I haven’t heard of Walktober before, but the Forest Preserve District has a Hike program. You keep track of your miles on specified trails and after so many you get a beautiful walking stick. I’ve never participated…I do a lot of walking, though πŸ™‚

        1. The beautiful walking stick sounds like a great incentive to keep track of one’s miles. πŸ™‚ My husand has an app on his cell phone which keeps track of how far he walked and how long it took him. Since he is a logical techie, the app is the incentive that works to keep him interested in walking…

  1. Beautiful photos. It looks like a great place to go for a walk. I especially like the moon setting over the trees. What a clear day it must have been.

    1. Thank you, Ally! I was enchanted by that moon as it seemed to be following us. The weather was perfect, warm autumn sunshine, a welcome relief after the brutal, blinding sun of summer…

  2. This looks like an enjoyable Autumn walk Barbara and maybe I’ll join in Walktober later this month. It looks fun. I like the dribs and drabs of color throughout the landscape – nice to see wildflowers continue to thrive. This walk reminds me of Lake Erie Metropark, especially along Cove Point which is known for its rocky shoreline. There is nothing better than enjoying a long walk immersed in nature and happily nothing was holding you back this year.

    1. From its website, Lake Erie Metropark looks like a fantastic natural area with lots of trails. πŸ™‚ And it has a museum, too. You’re lucky to have it! Growing up in the woods I never had to investigate parks to find some nature. We moved to this urban area 40 years ago and fell in love with our little city beach on Long Island Sound, at the mouth of the Thames River. (My kids always say they grew up on our beach. Even in the winter, I would pick them up after school and let them run around on the sand and the rocks down there.) I never thought to explore the surrounding area and had no idea we had so much open space to enjoy.

      1. Barbara – it is one of my favorite places to walk. There are different ways to enjoy the trails: rustic in the woods, paved sidewalks for pedestrians/bikes running through many areas of the park, or walking the rocky shoreline. My post that will publish this coming Monday is pretty long and is all about Lake Erie Metropark. I went to get photos of the Water Lotuses three times, but the last time was the best walk so I used those pictures and will feature the water lotuses Wednesday in a WW post. We have 13 Metroparks in the Tri-County area. I have only been to four of them. They have made a bike trail that goes from Lake Erie Metropark to two other Metroparks and the whole bike trail is 49 miles!

        The sandy shore/beach sounds nice. I have not been to any beaches around here – none are that close to me. I remember one of the bloggers saying he and his wife went to Rye Beach in various seasons and they took photos even in Winter. They are both native New Yorkers.

        That is nice that you are getting time to explore more now. Our Metroparks did not close at the early part of the pandemic, but they waived the entrance fee three days a week for people to explore their parks. They stopped the freebies sometime after Memorial Day, but I am sure it gave people a chance to explore that would not have paid the $10.00/per day fee or $35.00 annual pass. The museum is full of info related to some native animals and birds – they have photos, some live, some stuffed. They also have interpretive walks and a small boat tour – I have done both and the guides are excellent. They just opened up their Fall interpretive tours this weekend after being closed since March due to the pandemic.

        1. Wow! Your Metropark system is fantastic! And it sounds like there is enough variety in terrains and activities to keep all sorts of people happy and challenged. You will never run out of places to explore. πŸ™‚

          It’s true, beaches here in the north have a special stark beauty in the winter. One especially cold winter I enjoyed taking pictures of the ice that formed where the water meets the land, I called them frozen waves… I’ve heard of Rye Beach. There’s one in New Hampshire, too. All this talk about winter beaches is making me long for a visit to Cape Cod…

          None of our parks has entrance fees, but then again, they don’t have any amenities. Except for the city beach, one needs to pay for a pass for the summer and it has restrooms. It’s free in the off-season, but the restrooms are closed. When the bars closed for the pandemic the beach got very crowded and we started finding cigarette butts and broken beer bottles scattered all over the place. It was very disheartening. That was another factor driving us to discover the other open spaces in our community.

          1. I heard a story on the news today that the 13 Metroparks have an annual revenue of $90 million and the story said that does not include the residual effects like enjoying good health from walking or biking there and staying off medicines or costly doctor visits of up to $1,200.00 per year and the real estate properties nearby are worth more. I thought that was interesting. This park is 16 miles from my house.

            I was searching my blog for photos of Bishop Park during a very brutal Winter and I was on the boardwalk taking photos of the waves that froze in place and there were huge slabs of ice everywhere. When I do find the post, I will pass it along. It was just incredible to see.

          2. It’s true, parks are so important to a healthy lifestyle for urban dwellers, physical health AND mental health! Looking forward to seeing your frozen waves pictures — I found mine! (Did a search for “frozen” and it popped right up. πŸ™‚ )

  3. You did the Walktober! How fun that you joined for a wonderful walk. You do have a lot of protected lands. I enjoyed lots of the pictures, like the rocks…and trees, and colors. Will you be walking anywhere this weekend? My friend and I did a lovely 70 degree walk yesterday, so beautiful, on her land which she is about to sell after 40-some years.

    1. I did! That’s lovely you had such good weather for one last walk on your friend’s land. It must have been bittersweet, and another memory to cherish… We are planning to take a walk on Sunday but we haven’t picked a location yet. (Too many choices!) We’re doing chores today and it’s supposed to rain Monday and Tuesday (remnants of Hurricane Delta). We desperately need the rain. We went from severe to extreme drought level yesterday.

    1. Thanks for coming along on my walk! The colors are just starting around here, still pretty low. Peak predicted for October 24-November 6…

  4. I am so glad you could join in this year, Barbara. πŸ™‚ This was such a beautiful walk, with hints of color to come. Thank you so much for bringing us along with you. I needed a sunny-day walk this morning (it’s rather gloomy here due to the remnants of what was hurricane Delta).

    1. It was fun, although I was wishing for some spectacular fall colors! I just found an interactive fall foliage map and learned that our peak won’t be until October 24-November 6. We’re supposed to be getting rain from hurricane Delta today but it hasn’t arrived yet. I hope it doesn’t fizzle. We could use some gloom in these drought-stricken parts!

  5. Happy Walktober. Not only an excellent walk that captures the season, it also displays the beauty of your region in Connecticut. Well done, Barbara …. and thanks for following Beach Walk Reflections.

    1. Thank you, Frank! Wishing you a Happy Walktober, too. Apparently our fall colors don’t peak until next week so perhaps there will be more autumny walks to come. Looking forward to reading your coming Beach Walk Reflections.

      1. Many variables in the colors from season to season. Last week we drove from Cincinnati to Knoxville TN … back a few days later. Interesting to see the progression of colors in both directions. See you at the beach!

        1. I’m guessing your beach walks will be on Lake Erie? I’ve only driven through Ohio, to go to a wedding in Kentucky, and have never been to Tennessee. Traveling north and south would definitely highlight the changing colors. Beautiful part of the country…

          1. Good question. Although I’m in Cincinnati, I retreat to the Alabama coast as a snowbird, a place that has a long streak of wonderful sand for walking.

          2. Sounds like a good plan! I’m looking forward to your reflections from that streak of wonderful sand in Alabama, another state I’ve never been to.

  6. Hi Barbara, I’m here from Robin’s Walktober. Nice to see another New Englander. πŸ™‚
    Yes, the pandemic has kept us closer to home, but luckily, there are many fine parks nearby to visit. Living close to the beach, you have those as a enviable choice as well, esp. now that the crowds are gone.
    Haley Farm looks like a nice spot to explore and the day you walked looked gorgeous! It’s nice that the paths are wide and mowed (ticks are a problem here as well with the latest fall flush, I’m rather paranoid about them having been bit many times over the years). Your photos are lovely and I really like that superb tanager shot on the left. Are you seeing lots of migrants flying through?

    1. Welcome, Eliza! It is lovely to see a fellow New Englander. πŸ™‚ It’s turning out to be a nice problem to have, trying to decide where to walk on any given day. Too many choices!

      Most of the paths in the woods are pretty narrow and if we encounter other people we often wind up in the brush off to the side, so I did wind up with poison ivy in June. Grrrr… So far we haven’t found any ticks but we do check for them. My brother-in-law and my husband’s aunt have chronic Lyme disease, and my daughter-in-law had Lyme carditis many years ago, which landed her in the hospital, but she’s fine now. So we know it’s no joke. I hope you never got seriously ill from your bites.

      Thank you for liking my photos. That scarlet tanager was tricky — he was so high up and wouldn’t stay put for more than a second! We are on the Atlantic Flyway and do see some migratory birds. In August we saw two kinds of sandpipers:

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed my walk, Debbie! The moon was so enchanting that day I was thrilled to get that shot, and the magical white flower. Thank you so much for visiting!

  7. Isn’t that the way, if you have to stay home you’ll find all sorts of wonderful things that you might not have noticed otherwise! What a beautiful park you have there, and I liked that canopy rock too, that’s very cool! Thank you for taking us along on your walk, it was delightful!

    1. Thank you, Dawn! It’s been the silver lining to the cloud of this terrible pandemic, to find so much beauty so close to home. We hope to keep going as winter comes, as long as we can still see the trails. πŸ™‚

  8. What a lovely walk, Barbara. Covid has had some benefits when you think about it. It has forced us to see what’s in our “backyard” so to speak.
    Thanks for taking us along.

    1. Thank you, Dale. I just found your comment in the spam queue — not sure why it wound up there. So happy you enjoyed this walk. It’s so true, discovering things closer to home has been an unexpected positive note from having to stay at home.

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