Located between Bloomfield and Simsbury, Connecticut, Penwood State Park provides easy access to the natural beauty of the area. With only a short distance from the capitol city of Hartford, Connecticut, visitors can come to Penwood Stated Park and escape the industrial world. Ponds, trails, picnic areas, and even a small waterfall near Shadow Pond will keep park visitors coming back for more.
Donated by Curtis H. Veeder in 1944, Penwood State Park has strived to accomplish the one request of its beneficiary, that the park “be kept in a natural state so that those who love nature may enjoy this property as I have enjoyed it.” This park, with nearly 800 acres in the Talcott Mountain Range, has done just that.
Curtis Veeder and his wife Louise established most of the trails throughout the park. Since the pair hiked to observe the mountain range, scenic vistas, and appreciate their natural surroundings, most of the trails in the park traverse the scenery. The precision in early maps of Penwood reveal the detail in which Vedeer appreciates the park as he accurately made his notes.
Today, the park is open to the public to appreciate and free of charge. To help preserve the park, fires, camping, and horses are not permitted. Pets on leashes are allowed.
Some information on the trails, sights, and picnic areas are listed below. Further information can be found at the Penwood State Park website: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325248
Metacomet trail: This is the most popular trail in the park. Although the trail is one of the longest, with over 3 miles of trail traversing the mountain, it offers scenic views, and has many drop-in points and overlooks that can be seen in shorter hikes.
Shadow Pond Nature Trail: This is a short trail, under a half mile loop from the parking lot, which goes around Shadow Pond. This is the perfect hike for a short family trip, since the trail is easy and close to the picnic pavilion areas.
Cedar Ridge Overlook: Viewing the scenery from this lookout is worth the hike. While this trail continues to traverse the park in both directions, this overlook is the highlight of the hike.
Lake Louise trail: There is a short asphalt trail that provides access to Lake Louise. Although it is paved, there are sunken in sewers, so be aware of these while using this trail.
Cross-country ski trails: Many of the above trails are groomed during the winter for the enjoyment of cross-country skiers. Other trails can be accessed in winter months with snowshoes.
Biking trails: Mountain bikers favor this place, and additional mountain biking trails, other than the hiking trails listed, can be found in mountain biking topos of the area. The metacomet trail is a favorite among the mountain bikers, while road bikers may enjoy biking the roads throughout the park. Hiking trails can be accessed by bike during summer months, and proper bicycling etiquette should be observed.
Picnic areas: There are a few established picnic areas in the park, which are designated day-use places for families to park and spend time at the provided tables. Note that the only picnic area that provides restrooms and potable water is at the picnic area near the Ranger Station below Shadow Pond. Other picnic areas include Lake Louise and the Shadow Pond pavilions.
Wildlife and Vegetation: Birds are the most typical animals seen in Penwood, with bald eagles, woodpeckers, and turkey vultures being sited. More rare forms of vegetation available include bloodroot, trailing arbutus, and trillium. The park itself is forested and beside ponds, so there are vast amounts of visible plant life.
Views & Scenery: Lake Louise, named after Chuck Vedeer’s wife, offers a chance to interact with a kettle pond. Near Shadow Pond at the center of the park is a modest 20ft waterfall, and Gale Pond offers another opportunity for wetland scenery. The park itself offers views of the Talcott Mountain range and Conneticut River Valley, with the Cedar Ridge Overlook providing the most scenic outlook available in the park.
Penwood State Park is a rare gem that offers scenic tranquility, free of charge, near large cities. Take an afternoon to visit this park and see why this place holds a special place in the hearts of the Veeders and other park visitors.