Urban Hike

Several weeks ago, I used the doors at the Riverside Park Boat House for my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors series. In that post, I talked about how the Hartford Riverside Recapture agency has done a great job of bringing the riverfront back to a well-deserved prominent position in the city. I mentioned that there is a way to hike around a series of paths and bridges and to see the river from many vantage points. For Father’s Day, our daughter took me on that hike.

I’m calling it a hike. I guess it’s more of a walk, the full loop is slightly over six miles but there is an option to go off-road, as it were. Also, Faith and I both have a way of taking the path less traveled whenever we think there might be a good photo opportunity over/up/behind there.

We started in the parking lot of Great River Park. From there, we headed south along the river and then east to the stairs leading up to the Charter Oak Bridge. Along the way, we passed an electrical transmission tower. So many photo opportunities there.

Horse Mountain
That’s Horse Mountain (central Washington) in the background. It was about 106f and we were about to climb up to see the horses. We made the climb and returned safely.

Faith and I have a longstanding agreement in place. If one of us gets seriously injured while trying to take a photo, the other will prevent that picture from falling into the hands of my wife. This started in 1999 with the photo of Faith standing under the sign at the right.

I pointed out the seriously large insulators at the top of the tower and the fact that the recently-mown grass was evidence that it’s safe to be under the tower. Still, that “Danger – High Voltage” sign haunted us with a message from wife and mother “they don’t put those signs there for decoration.” However, anyone with a camera, wife and mother included, knows that photo-op outweighs fear. The next 100 yards carried us across a small bridge that is decorated with several commemorative plaques. While many people simply stroll across, Faith and I stopped to admire the ironwork and the plaques. This is why nature hikes take so long.

As we were crossing the Charter Oak Bridge, we talked about how Connecticut, which is chronically mired in deficit spending, had the good sense to add a pedestrian walkway to this bridge. OK, maybe that’s one of the reasons the State is smothering in debt, but it’s a good reason.

The western stairs lead down to Charter Oak Landing. For those of you not familiar with Connecticut, the whole “Charter Oak” thing dates back to the 1600s. In 1682, The Charter was given to the founders in Connecticut by Charles II and, according to history:

The Charter was an extraordinary document because it gave the people of Connecticut a clear legal basis for their colony, provided for the absorption of New Haven Colony, and, most importantly, granted the “Governour and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut in New England in America” an exceedingly generous degree of self-government.

The Charter Oak was a couple-hundred-year-old White Oak tree in which the Charter was hidden in 1687 when Charles’ successor, James II decided that Connecticut and the rest of New England really needed to be on a shorter leash.

Unfortunately, the Charter Oak blew down in a storm in the 1800’s. I’m not sure if the site of Charter Oak Landing is anywhere near where the tree was, but there were restrooms so I thought it was in a very good place.

From there, the hike proceeded along a little bit of barely-improved trail and highway by-product as we walked up, alongside and under bits of I-91. Eventually, we made it to Mortenson Landing which is the most prominent feature of Riverside Recapture’s 30-year effort. This park-like area provides access to the river for hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Continuing north, we made our way to Riverside Park and beyond. The map talks about “unimproved” trails heading north from Riverside Park through the woods and alongside the river. Eventually, these trails will be extended up and over a former landfill (which will provide amazing views of the city and its new ballpark) and then connect with riverfront trails in Windsor, CT. If all goes well, I may live to see the day that these trails are connected with the Windsor Locks Canal Trail.

Lacking those connections today, we looped back through Riverside Park and made our way up and over the Founders Bridge which brought us back onto the path in Great River Park. From there, lunch and a beer at Maggie McFly’s and we were happy to call it a day.

For additional photos, please check out Faith’s album on Flickr.

43 thoughts on “Urban Hike

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  1. I enjoyed the chat! I felt included in your conversation and walk, Dan. I like your mentioning pedestrian walkways. I also think we always should have bike trails in public areas. The waterways beautiful and placid. The arched trees so beautuful :)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, meant to tell you your agreement with daughter kind of cracked me up, Dan. Whenever we went with our Dad somewhere, even if it was to get a donut or run an errand, there would be those words spoken, “Now, this will be our little secret.”
        It definitely was mentioned when jumping off piers or riding bikes down a bumpy trail. I like that your daughter is going to always remember these precious moments between the two of you, Dan.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think that’s the nature of fathers. They get to be the ones who can break the rules. My father used to do the same kind of thing, taking us to places our mom wouldn’t have thought were great ideas.


  2. Great post as usual. I loved the Unimproved Trail picture. I just love to take walk at such places. I also loved the Bulkeley Bridge photo. I am in love with bridges with water flowing below it. My train usually runs through a large creek bridge which I showed in a video earlier on the group page. In a train, that bridge is covered in almost 3 minutes and less, but when you walk over it, it takes around an hour from one end to another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I love bridges. Usually, we cross them so fast that we can’t take time to appreciate them. I love that we can walk under this one. Ironically, you can also walk across this bridge, but it doesn’t connect to the Riverwalk on the Hartford side. I am hoping that that is a future plan.


  3. Great post as usual. I loved the Unimproved Trail and Riverside Park picture. I just love to take walk at such places. I also loved the Bulkeley Bridge photo. I am in love with bridges with water flowing below it. My train usually runs through a large creek bridge which I showed in a video earlier on the group page. In a train, that bridge is covered in almost 3 minutes and less, but when you walk over it, it takes around an hour from one end to another.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this post. Since leaving that area as a kid, my return trips have usually involved a visit to my sister in Middletown (with takeout from Lenny and Joe’s) and to then go to other places in New England. Then maybe another visit to my sister on the way out. I have not done much to explore the greater Hartford area. Maybe next trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Scott. It’s hard to compete those other places in New England, but I was very happy to realize that they had finished this riverwalk. They need to do more to promote it, but this is a good start.


    1. Actually Dan, the sign is in central Washington (where you would expect them – I should update that photo), but Connecticut is a mini-rattlesnake capital on it;s own. In fact, and I don’t say this with any particular pride, Glastonbury, CT (the town I work in) is rattlesnake central.


  5. As we were crossing the Charter Oak Bridge, we talked about how Connecticut, which is chronically mired in deficit spending, had the good sense to add a pedestrian walkway to this bridge

    Don’t get me wrong, as a guy who used to bike twenty-five miles to work, I am a huge fan of bike trails but I couldn’t help being annoyed when Minneapolis announced that their new bike trail was built with “Federal funds” as if it was free… So let me get this straight, Uncle Sam who owes Chinese pensioners a bundle is borrowing more money to build an uber affluent city a bike trail. Does anyone other than me see a problem with this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you’re referring to Minneapolis as “uber affluent” because Hartford is one of the top-10 poorest cities in America. I always hesitate to respond to these types of comments, I don’t want to make you angry, and I really appreciate the time you took to comment, but I disagree. I don’t have a problem with it.

      The residents of Hartford also pay taxes to Uncle Sam, but a large percentage of them don’t even own a car. Using some of those federal funds to provide pedestrian access is a good thing in many ways. For instance, Several times a year, I take a picture of Hartford from the sidewalk on the Bulkeley Bridge (part of I-84) and I usually see people from Hartford walking to work in East Hartford or the other way round.

      For years, state and federal highway spending ignored pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit, focusing, primarily on people who commute by car – usually single occupant cars. That’s not only unfair, it’s bad for the environment. I have at least one friend who bikes to work everyday (weather permitting) from Hartford. The addition of bike lanes and trails (even one s that appear mainly recreational in nature) in the city has made her commute much safer over the years.

      Also, attractions like this bring people to the city and bring city people to the waterfront (almost a million people a year in Hartford). Those people typically spend some money along the way, and a hunk of that money goes to taxes. Cities like Hartford struggle because so many jobs have moved to the suburbs (on roads built with federal tax dollars). One of the few things cities can offer is an experience like this.

      It’s hard to separate which projects benefit which activities and what groups of people, but I’d like to see more bike trails. If the towns along the river finish their parts of these trails before I retire (which they wont) I could bike to work. I’m over 60, I probably wouldn’t do that very often, but I’d still like to see it.

      Phew, I guess I should have just written another blog post. Thanks again for reading, commenting and not taking offense (I hope).


      1. No offense whatsoever. I was referring to Minneapolis, which is uber affluent. Even though it pretends it is not.

        I totally agree about the need for bike trails and alternate modes of transit. I just think that the affluent should spend their own money and not chase after funds that could be better spent elsewhere, and when people who can afford it spend their own money, they act more responsibly.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Any city that makes an effort to improve pedestrian trails deserve a round of applause. You are fortunate to be able to enjoy this walk/hike. The photos are great. Love the arch made by the trees.


  7. Sounds like a memorable experience, Dan. It’s great that you get out there and do these hikes — too many of us stay indoors practically all the time, whether we’re working or not. And it obviously yielded a lot of terrific pics. I’m especially impressed with the one taken as you looked up from underneath the electrical-transmission tower. Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. My daughter is seriously into hiking so I’ve had more opportunity lately than I have had in the past. Part of the reason behind this hike was to help break in some new boots before she drags me up a mountain next month. she says it’s an easy hike, but…

      I’ve always wanted to get the picture looking up under a tower. Usually, they are fenced off, at least the ones I pass on other trails. This was meant to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful pictures! Beautiful place! Corydon (where I live) was Indiana’s first state capital; the constitution was worked on in the heat of the summer under the shade of a huge elm tree called, by imaginative Hoosiers, the Constitution Elm. The elm succumbed, alas, to Dutch Elm disease, but we still have and maintain the stump. Pieces of the elm were used to make gavels and souvenirs. I think there are more pieces of the Constitution Elm than there are of the True Cross.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, you looked at Faith’s pictures. My knee is fine, but it will hurt if I don’t wear the little compression thing, As long as I wear that, it seems to be fine. I say the signs are just things the lawyers make them put up. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful nature hike, Dan. You and Faith could have climbed up and down those stairs several times in order to get a good work-out. Then again…

    It’s so cool that you have this extraordinary relationship with Faith. You are both nature-loving, daredevils who share a passion for photography (and beer, I think). Puts a smile on my face.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks Mary. She gets the passion for photography from her mom, and I have been learning from both of them. I alone contributed the love of beer. Her mom doesn’t liek to admit it, but when she has a camera in her hands, she leans toward daredevil (as well as leans over bridges and stuff).


  11. For someone that lives in the desert, you have to know that your shots with all the trees and green are stunning! Sounded like a great hike and how cool to do it with your daughter! My Seattle daughter loves to go hiking with me when we go up there and we always stop at a local spot for beer and sandwiches after our hikes!! I say great minds think alike!! Great post! Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, perfect timing My husband and I are going to be passing through Hartford this fall and I’m thinking we need to do this urban hike, or at least part of it. I knew if I kept reading, I’d eventually gain something of practical use from your blog and, bingo, two in one day: dry wells and urban hikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I could help. I think you would enjoy it. You can lop of about 2 miles if you skip the Riverside Park portion. Parking at Great River Park and Charter Oak Landing is free. It’s also free at Riverside Park, but then’ you’re committed to the longer loop. Parking in Downtown Hartford is nuts.


  13. I like how you see things. Those are some truly amazing captures. I like the trail and the high voltage tower, the stone-arch bridge and the structure in which Faith is standing. All in all they are astonishing photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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