Great River – Great Park

Trying to get a better vantage point (without getting wet).
Trying to get a better vantage point (without getting wet).

In our rush to get to Riverside Park in time to catch the sun rise over the Connecticut River, we left one car about 100 feet from the entrance to another river-side park. Great River Park lies on the east side of the CT River and it also stands bare between a major levy and the rushing water. The two parks have much in common and yet they are quite different.

The first difference, is the fact that while Riverside Park is in the professional big brother City of Hartford, the little industrial brother East Hartford’s park is actually better tuned for workers-on-the-go. Riverside Park can be walked to from downtown Hartford, but when driving by, it gives you a clear “how do I get there?” feeling. Great River Park is accessible from several office parks, a couple of hotels and is a short walk across one of two bridges from Hartford. It’s also an easy off-on from the highway. In fact, I do that off-on little dance 2-3 days a week.

Great River Park doesn’t have any sports fields, no dragon boats, no team-building wall-crawl, and it doesn’t have nearly as much parking as its big city sister. But, it has amenities and features that Riverside Park would be envious of, if parks could feel envy.

Being both on the east side of the river and south of the Bulkeley Bridge, Great River Park stares across the mighty Connecticut River at downtown Hartford. The park offers almost 2 miles of lighted walkway along the river, exercise stations, bathrooms, sculpture, some playground equipment, picnic areas, and a boat launch and, according to the website, a 350-seat amphitheater. I have to admit, I’ve never seen the amphitheater in use, but I’ve walked the trails and I’ve taken hundreds of photos from the different little “river watching” venues along the length of the park. I’ve seen runners, joggers and walkers, all start their day on the various paths. I’ve seen fisherfolks launching all manner of craft into the river and I’ve seen a bunch of people like me, who simply like to start their day next to a river.

I wrote about this before; I’m trying not to repeat myself, but I’ll state the title again – there is something about a river that is good for the soul.

Great River Park begins at the Bulkeley Bridge, a beautiful stone arch bridge that carries Interstate-84 over the river. The park ends, I think, at the Charter Oak Bridge a couple of miles to the south. Hartford’s other significant water crossing, the Founder’s Bridge crosses in the middle of Great River Park and is easily accessible, if you like climbing stairs. All three bridges have sidewalks, but the website only lists the Founder’s and the Charter Oak bridges as providing pedestrian access to Hartford. In reality, only the Founder’s Bridge is a viable choice.

The Charter Oak Bridge crosses well toward the south of Hartford’s downtown district; it’s 2.6 miles from the parking lot at Great River Park to the heart of Hartford via that bridge. The Bulkeley Bridge sidewalk, on the other hand, literally dumps pedestrians onto the on-ramp to I-84 on the Hartford side of the bridge. There’s a narrow sidewalk that connects to the northeast corner of the downtown district, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

In contrast to the serene reflections and graceful light and shadows found in Riverside Park, Great River Park was a mess. A fast moving river, the noise of traffic and somewhat dirty floodwater greeted us as we tried to get close enough for some interesting photos. My daughter had good timing with her invitation to photograph the river from its flooded parks. The day before, the parking lot at Great River Park was closed, but not yet flooded. Two days later, on my way to work, the parking lot was dry and full of debris.

I hope you enjoy the images in the gallery. Below that is a short video gives you a good idea how fast the water was moving.

51 thoughts on “Great River – Great Park

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    1. Thanks Judy. Given the scenic value of any kind of waterfront property, I cherish the waterfront parks and trails in the Hartford area, as well as in my hometown of Pittsburgh. It took a lot of work and, literally decades, to establish these parks.


  1. That photo with the lamppost in front of the support piers? Fabulous shot.
    I am not as interactive with our White River/Fall Creek, but it’s much a part of my environment, and an element I enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I discovered the easy-off easy-on nature of this park one day when an accident forced me off the highway. It’s a very nice diversion on the way to work. Since I’m usually very early, stopping here is a pretty easy choice to make.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re right, Dan. There IS something particularly satisfying about being by a river, no question. Almost any body of water, in fact. I’m grateful to live near a large bay and within a couple hours’ drive of the ocean. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. I seemed to have cross wired this comment with the one above it. I hope this lands in the right spot. Sometimes we need those bodies of water to absorb our frustrations or fears or whatever. I’m glad I have it close by too.


  3. Um I have no idea how to use a gray card either just to make you feel better, Dan. LOL I really enjoyed viewing the pictures and was in awe of how high the waters rose. It looks kind of cold there as well because Faith is wearing some kind of face mask. Hmmmm …. Or was that to hide her real identity? *giggle* So glad you have your daughter to share photography with. Lucky you! Great shots, my friend! <3

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still totally amazed at the flooding. The photo with the street lamps in the water pretty well says it all.

    I would agree your statement “there’s something about a river” – no matter how big or small.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great views! That river is moving fast. I’m always amazed at how powerful water can be.
    We have a river well it’s more like a creek at the moment, but we I don’t think we have a nice river view or waterfront anywhere. You’re very lucky to have such a great river with nice parks and a nice city skyline behind it.

    I drive to the coast which is 30 minutes south or 50 minutes north.

    I laughed when I saw and read your text on the photo with Faith and her gray card. I know what she does with it! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I figured you would know. I asked her to explain. I think her set also has the relevant laws that photographers should be aware of, printed on the back of them.

      The fast moving river is a very real hazard, and one reason we always go together. It only takes a few inches of water pushing up against you for you to be in serious trouble, especially with all the debris.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a “feeling” you have been overdoing, Dan. PLEASE take things slow. That fever is a butt kicker! How long ago did I have it and I still have yet to gain my weight back. Slow and easy, friend!! (((HUGS))) Amy <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These were taken weeks before I got sick Amy, but thanks. One of the reasons it took so long to do this post was that I had to sort through a ton of photos and I didn’t have the energy to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dan, I liked Faith standing on the bench, the golden yellow hues on the arches of the bridge and the amazing fluidity, rushing and terrifying water. It is a little scary to me, knowing that if you fell in it is very cold and not easy to catch on to anything. I realize you and Faith were cautious and didn’t have any trouble, but the big sister in me (Mom, Nana, friend. . .) had to express a little concern here. I am so happy you posted these extra photographs! Beautiful presentation and montage of effects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. We always travel in pairs and we never both take the same risk (and the risks we take are small). The water under that bench was cold, but probably only 6″ deep and the bottom was solid. I get nervous when she gets near the edge of moving water. She’s careful, but I think it helps to have someone saying “that’s close enough.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You make that CT River look great. There were rivers like that over here a long time ago. But then, they started shrinking and went on to become worthless streams. And the water turned brown and green. Like goo. Ugly.
    Anyway, more excellent photos. The Founders Bridge gives a clearer picture of the flood. It’s deep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 50 years ago, Peter, the CT River was, literally, a cess pool. The Clean Water Act, passed in the 60s started the process of cleaning the water by ending the practice of thoughtless pollution. It’s taken a very long time, and a lot of money and work to get fish to return and clean water to flow. They’ve broken dams, lowered reservoirs, and installed sewage treatment plants in every town. There is still a lot of work to be done.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Loved it. I got to see Hartford in a video, so happy. Few days ago, I saw this movie called Concussion, I am sure you must have heard of it. A lot in it is about NFL and I believe I saw many shots of Pittsburgh in it. Can you recommend any movie shot in Connecticut especially Hartford, so I can see more of Hartford?

    Liked by 1 person

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