The slow trickle of students back to Foss Hill is great news for Wes: it means that after weeks of teasing, spring has finally arrived! While Foss is a reliable option for sunbathing, Frisbee, and running into exactly the person you’re trying to avoid, those looking for a new outdoor experience don’t need to travel far. The area around our campus is teeming with gorgeous trails, parks, and gardens, and the Sustainability Office has mapped out a few of our favorite, under-appreciated spots.
Wes may be small, but it’s surprisingly easy to miss so much of what it has to offer. Check out these three opportunities to explore and get outside without leaving campus:
Japanese Garden at the College of East Asian Studies: Shôyôan Teien is a serene hideout next to the CEAS building, described as the hidden gem of the Wesleyan campus. On Sunday, April 15 at 10:30 a.m., the Sustainability Office and Stephen Morrell, the garden’s original architect, will give a tour of the space followed by brunch. Join us for a peaceful start to your Sunday morning!
Outing Club: If you’re looking for a more active way to interact with the environment, look no further than Outing Club. Check out their Facebook page for weekly opportunities to hike, bike, kayak, and more in the local area, or borrow some of their outdoor equipment, stored at Out House.
Cross Country Trails: As you stroll down Long Lane towards the farm, you’ll notice paths leading off on the right into a grove of trees. The cross-country trails are perfect for a quick, midday study break, where you’re guaranteed streams, thickets of tall trees, and frequent dog encounters!
Most students don’t see much of Middletown beyond Main Street, but they risk missing out on the abundant natural niches that are easily accessible from Wes. Spend time off campus and enjoy the community at these local hotspots:
Ravine Park: The Park stretches from Beach Street in the east to Pine Street in the west, but the easiest way to access it is walking down Home Ave. for five to ten minutes until you reach the trailhead. It’s known for a quaint stream that runs along the trail and feeds the ravine’s lush wetland vegetation. Keep your eyes out for blooming lilies!
Wadsworth Falls State Park: Just a seven-minute drive from campus, Wadsworth Falls make for an easy getaway on a sunny afternoon. Bring a picnic lunch, hike down a wooded trail, and take the plunge into the pool below the falls.
Middletown Nature Gardens: Right across from Haveli—arguably the best Indian food Middletown has to offer—lies a series of protected gardens. Ranging from vernal pools to wildflowers to a towering, 200-year-old maple tree, the Middletown Nature Gardens is a diverse landscape that attracts visitors from across the state.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous experience, Connecticut’s nearby parks and pereserves will not disappoint. These spots require a short car ride, but the opportunity to distance yourself from campus stress and do some exploring is definitely worth it.
Higby Mountain Preserve: Middlefield’s sprawling conservancy lies only 15 minutes from campus. A steep, mile-long hike to the top of Mount Higby rewards you with breathtaking views of the central valley. After enjoying the rocky bluffs at the summit, you can extend your hike about another half hour by descending down the back and looping around Black Pond (which seems large enough to be called a lake, but you can go check it out and decide for yourself).
Ragged Mountain: Take the afternoon to drive to nearby Berlin, Conn., and hike one of the most scenic trails the state has to offer. The 5.5-mile loop weaves in and out of dense forest, emerging at the edge to reveal bucolic scenes of green hills lining the Wassel Reservoir. For those who want to feel truly immersed in nature, Ragged Mountain is the perfect local option.
Now that spring is finally here, we hope you’ll spend the rest of the semester exploring all the beauty Connecticut has to offer! If you discover any new spots near campus, we’d love to hear about them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy hiking!
Katie Shewfelt can be reached at email@example.com.