The Collis P. Huntington State Park stretches across portions of the three Connecticut towns of Bethel, Newtown, and Redding. The park contains 883 acres of wilderness that includes wide open fields and deep, dense wooded areas. The Collis P. Huntington State Park is named for the father of Archer M. Huntington, who donated the park to the state of Connecticut in 1973 upon the death of Archer’s wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, the matriarch of the family. The Huntington family lived on the property for over 40 years before leaving it to the state.
One of the most unique features of the Collis P. Huntington State Park is the series of woodland sculptures scattered throughout the park. These lifelike renditions of bears, wolves, and other common animals welcome visitors to the park and were created by Anna Hyatt Huntington. She used the natural backdrop of the area as her inspiration, and her works are the highlight of any visit to the park. In her Connecticut studio, Anna Huntington created sculptures that are known worldwide. Her works are displayed in Europe and in the United States.
Visitors to the Collis P. Huntington State Park can explore the dense woods that cover the majority of the property. These woods contain several trails for hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bike riders. The trails are clearly marked for the different purposes so that visitors can avoid unexpected collisions. Campgrounds are scattered throughout the woods for visitors to take advantage of in the more temperate part of the year. Portions of the woods are opened to licensed deer hunters during archery season only. Hunting with guns is never allowed inside the park limits.
One of the most peaceful ways to explore the park is on a horseback tour. The park offers horses for visitors to rent for the day or just for a few hours. Riders do not need to have extensive experience with horses in order to enjoy the horseback riding trails. The horses are trained to be gentle with less experienced riders so that it is easy for anyone to take part in the horseback riding activities. Formal horseback riding tours are available with guides who can explain the history of the park as you ride the trails. Visitors can choose to discover the park alone or on a tour with several other visitors.
Mountain Bike Trails
Collis P. Huntington State Park is well known among mountain bike enthusiasts as a park with excellent trails. The park has different trails that are rated for their difficulty levels. On some of the more challenging trails, riders will find rugged territory with steep climbs and descents. There are some portions of the trail that require the rider to carry the bike for a short time due to the rockiness of the hills or narrow passages. It is a good idea to get a map from the information desk before attempting to ride the bike trails because some of the trails are not clearly marked in some areas.
The large, gently sloping open fields of Collis P. Huntington State Park are ideal for cross country skiers in the winter. Connecticut usually experiences its first snowfall in September. Snow continues to blanket the area throughout the winter until late February or early March. Cross country skiing is a popular activity at the park. There are established trails that skiers can run any time during the winter. More challenging trails are also available for skiers who have more experience and are looking for a good workout. The open fields run alongside dense woods, making an idyllic cross country ski track.
Fishing and Canoeing
Five separate ponds dot the park in openings between the wooded areas. These ponds are popular places for fishing or riding in canoes. Visitors can rent canoes and paddle them on any of the five ponds. Fishing can be done from a canoe or from the shore of the ponds. The fish are not overly large, which means that it does not require much strength or stamina to pull them from the water. The ponds are perfect for families with young children who would enjoy fishing or paddling a canoe without the dangers of a big river or lake.