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Take A Family Adveture…Without Breaking the Bank!



Well, school is out and now we have the whole summer off.  It’s time to tackle that age old question of how to keep the kids busy and off the electronics for the next two and half months. Camps and activities can be pricey and it adds up fast.

My son was in a hiking club during the school year and really enjoyed it. This is a huge deal considering all he likes to do is play video games. So I took to the internet and used the magical powers of google to find a hiking challenge we could do over the summer. The State of Connecticut DEEP has an annual list of 14 hikes in different state parks. It’s called the Sky is the Limit challenge. If you 10 of the 14 you get a patch and if you do all 14 you are entered into  drawing for prizes.  To add to the fun each hike has a special spot you need to find t take a picture in front of to prove you were there. Some are easy to find and some are not.

The state parks are free to visit, some have a few dollar parking fee, but most do not. We pack our back pack with water, snacks and sandwiches and usually stop for a picnic lunch. It’s a free to low cost way to have a family adventure , get outside, keep the kids engaged and away from the computer. To add to our challenge we are competing with another family to see who can complete all 14 hikes first. We text each other pictures and updates of our adventures.

The CT DEEP site is :

For those of you who do not live in CT. there are lots of other hiking challenges , many in your area. Use the magical power of google and go find them.

Here is this years list:

  1. Map: Air Line State Park
    Photo: Blackledge River Bridge, Colchester
    Suggestion: Bring a bike and take a ride on the Air Line Trail.
  2. Beckley Furnace Industrial Monument (no map) link to website.
    Photo: Beckley Furnace
    Suggestion: Learn more about the iron industry by visiting the Friends of Beckley Furnace website and exploring the Upper Housatonic Valley Iron Heritage Trail.
  3. Map: Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union, CT
    Photo:  Mashapaug Pond
    Suggestion:  Bring a fishing pole or canoe/kayak.
  4. Map: Bolton Notch State Park
    Photo:  Hop River Trail
    Suggestion:  Explore the 20 mile Hop River State Park Trail by bike or on foot.
  5. Map: Chatfield Hollow State Park
    Photo: Oak Lodge Nature Center
    Suggestion: Take time to discover all the work that the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC)  accomplished across CT and throughout the nation.  Find out if any of your family was involved in the CCC and send us their stories and photos.
  6. Map:  Farmington Canal State Park Trail
    Photo: Lock 12, Cheshire
    Suggestion:  Rollerblade, bike and stroller friendly!
  7. Map: Gillette Castle State Park
    Photo: Gillette Railroad Tunnel
    Suggestion:  Take a ride on the ferry across the CT River to Gillette Castle
  8. Map: Haley Farm State Park
    Photo: Canopy Rock
    Suggestion:  The Haley Farm Bike Trail, which is wheelchair accessible, is part of a 7 1/2 mile town-owned bikeway routed from Mystic to Groton on local roadways.
  9. Map: Indian Well State Park
    Photo: The Well
    Suggestion:  Come across the river and visit the Osborne Homestead Museum and Kellogg Environmental Center
  10. Map: Mashamoquet Brook State Park, Wolf Den
    Photo: Wolf Den
    Suggestion:  Make this a destination for a great camping experience.  Make camping reservations at
  11. Map: Nathaniel Lyon Monument, Natchaug State Forest
    Photo: Nathaniel Lyon Birthplace
    Suggestion:  Hike to Cemetery Hiking Directions
  12. Map: Putnam Memorial State Park
    Photo: Officer’s Quarters/Magazine
    Suggestion: Watch the video about Putnam Memorial State Park before you leave or one of the other CT DEEP Videos to help you plan your excursion.
  13. Map: Stratton Brook State Park
    Photo: Stratton Brook Depot (no building currently there)
    Suggestion: Plan to bike the entire 54 miles of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
  14. Map: Topsmead State Forest 
    Photo: Barbeque Pit
    Suggestion: Bring along a picnic lunch made from CT Grown foods.  Check out the CT Grown Availability Calendar

School has been out for one week and we have already completed 4 of the 14 hikes. the next ten are a little further from our house so will take longer to get them done. Here r the ones we have done so far.



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