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Summer Activities Available In And Near Newtown

Published: June 22, 2015 at 12:00 am

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Summer days may be long, but there is no shortage of activities in and near Newtown, from hiking to biking to horseback riding to swimming. A few Newtowners offered their own recommendations for summer outings.


Fox Ridge Farm boasts many activities for equestrians of all levels. Sitting on 25 acres, Pat Gregory and Fox Ridge Farm have been located on Aunt Park Lane for 14 years. All Ms Gregory asks is that the young riders come equipped with a well-fitting, approved helmet, long pants, and a pair of boots with a one-inch heel.


“We have a half-day camp and a full-day camp,” said Ms Gregory. “I have 29 school horses, so they ride in a loosely structured lesson in the morning. Then in the afternoon they kind of have their choice between another lesson or a trail ride, and if it’s hot they tend to choose the trail ride.”


Another option for the Newtown equestrian is the summer camp program at Sunny Brook Farm. This camp opens the last week of school and will stay open until the last week of the school summer break. Riders can expect to start at 9 am and finish around 1 pm, said farm owner Maryann Rudolph.


Ms Rudolph’s farm has been on Brushy Hill Road for 16 years, and her summer camp is filling up quickly.


“I let them borrow a helmet,” said Ms Rudolph. “They just have to have a pair of shoes or boots with a half-inch heel. They can wear leggings or jeans. But, once they’ve done a full package of lessons it’s time to own your own equipment.”




Walking The Trails


Dr Aaron Coopersmith, a Newtown native and director of Newtown Forest Association, has been exploring the local hiking trails since he was young.


“Newtown has so many little hidden gems,” said Dr Coopersmith. “There’s tons of really cool spots.”


His recommendations include Brunot Preserve on Taunton Hill Road. Brunot is 72.7 acres of well-kept forestry and trails that at some points opens onto meadows and farmlands.


“It’s really hard to say which one is my favorite,” said Dr Coopersmith. “I really love Holcombe Hill.”


Holcombe Hill offers great views, ponds, kite-flying areas, and a bit of Newtown history, as it was donated to Newtown Forest Association in 1997 through the estate of the late owner, Josephine Holcombe, according to Dr Coopersmith.


Al’s Trail is also a great place for hikers, beginner and experienced alike, according to Pat Barkman, a longtime Newtown resident who had a hand in its creation. She heartily encourages hikers to explore the trail.


According to the Al’s Trail website (alstrail.org), the trail is 10.72 miles, “with lots of loop trails for hiking,” according to Ms Barkman.


She also recommended that hikers bring sturdy boots, water, and a camera.


“Snacks are fun, too,” added Ms Barkman.


Ms Barkman also recommended that hikers check out “points of interest” on the Newtown trails. She pointed novice hikers toward Orchard Hill Nature Center on Huntingtown Road (approximately one-quarter of a mile south of Huntingtown’s intersection with Orchard Hill Road, just in from South Main Street), an easy hike with the added bonus of a historic mill.


She also mentioned Lower Paugussett State Forest, with its beautiful waterfall. The trail head for this section of a state park is located on Great Quarter Road in Sandy Hook.


“I encourage citizens to volunteer, and to do what they can to clean up and keep up the trails,” said Ms Barkman.


The Boy Scouts of Troop 70 also had some tips for summer outdoor activities. Scoutmaster Ed Breitling spoke of a recent canoe trip to Kettletown State Park in nearby Southbury. The boys, according to Mr Breitling, bring their own boats and supplies for a weekend of canoeing.


According to the state website (ct.gov), Kettletown State Park offers camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming as well.


The Boy Scouts also make use of Cullens Youth Association by Taunton Lake, where troop meetings are held, according to Mr Breitling. The facility includes a pond for fishing and lean-tos for camping. These are available not just for the Boy Scouts, but for any organized youth group.


In addition, the Boy Scouts also make use of Al’s Trail for hiking and camping. They travel light, bringing tarps and dry food for cooking on camping trips.


 


Biking


Biking trails are also an option.


The beginner cyclist should have a helmet, a repair kit (including patches and a pump for the tires) and a bike that fits the needs of the rider, said Terrence Ford, an avid cyclist and owner of Sandy Hook Cyclery, also known as “The Bike Barn,” located in Sandy Hook Center.


“Road-riding is picking a good road loop,” said Mr Ford. “There’s multiple around town, three specifically.”


One of those loops is in Sandy Hook Center: Follow Glen Road to Walnut Tree Hill Road, to Alberts Hill Road, to Echo Valley Road, Tamarack Road, Sanford Road, Butterfield Road, Currituck Road, and back to Main Street, Mr Ford said, adding this loop is a ride for the more advanced cyclist.


A great place to ride and to learn to ride is the Fairfield Hills campus, said Mr Ford. There are trails for mountain-biking as well as a paved loop that offers all the fun of road-riding without worrying about traffic.


 


Swimming


The pool at Treadwell Park, which opened for the season on Memorial Day weekend, has a Masters Swimming Program offered Monday and Wednesday nights geared toward adults. There is also the youth swimming program.


The pool and park, at 49 Philo Curtis Road, are open Monday to Friday from 9 am until sundown, according to the Newtown Parks & Recreation Department.


RoseAnn Reggiano, assistant director recreation, also suggested The Newtown Park and Bark dog park, located on Old Farm Road, for outings. The park offers a splash pad to help keep dogs cool in the sun, according to Ms Reggiano.


Eichler’s Cove Beach is considered one of the treasures of Newtown, according to Ms Reggiano.


Located at the end of Old Bridge Road, Eichler’s Cove offers a “marina, boat launch, a picnic area, a small beach and a spectacular view,” according to the town website (newtown-ct.gov). Eichler’s Cove is also a good spot to go kayaking, Ms Reggiano said.

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