Spring has sprung—time to get outdoors and behold Mother Nature’s spring regalia. Leaves unfurl to capture sunlight, grass grows green beneath out feet, and flowers pop out of their buds like delicate pinwheels fluttering in the breeze. The wonders of spring are to be experienced, not driven past.
Milford residents are fortunate to have a variety of trails to hike, so time for a good stretch of the legs. The word hike may cause your face to wince—that sounds like work—but not necessarily; it’s merely a walk in the woods. No matter what your fitness level, there are hikes aplenty right here in town. Twelve miles of trails are dedicated for residents and visitors alike to enjoy the scenery.
“Each trail reflects the seasons, the vegetation, and what wildlife is active,” stated Steve Johnson, Open Space and Natural Resource agent for the City of Milford. “The warming weather is a time when I look forward to the fresh blossoms, bird migrations, and the sound of spring peepers in our wetlands.”
“Some trails reflect changes in our landscape over time. Some of the changes are the result of glacial forces that shaped the land and waterways 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, unlike the creation of the five Mondo Ponds during gravel excavations in the 1940s and 1950s by Rocco Mondo.”
The Walnut Beach boardwalk, though manmade, follows the ever-changing landscape of the shoreline. Since its completion, it has become a destination for locals to walk and benefit from the fresh salt air. “My husband and I have been walking there for over two years,” says resident Mary Jo Downs. “I find it peaceful and relaxing. It is a great way to decompress after a busy day. We often see friends and neighbors there as well.”
The oldest trail in town winds its way through Wilcox Park. “Clark Wilcox deeded 12 acres to the town in 1909,” says Johnson. “The land was part of the property of William Fowler, the first miller. By deed the land is to be “used and maintained exclusively for the purpose of a public park.” Recently, Wilcox Park has benefited from numerous restoration projects by Milford’s Environmental Concerns Coalition (ECC), the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Academy High School, and Milford Earth Day.”
Milford is a birder’s delight with dozens of species to view. “Silver Sands State Park and Mondo Ponds are two of the trail areas that offer great birding” continues Johnson. Frank Gallo, senior naturalist at CT Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point leads regular birding walks at those locations as well as Eisenhower and Wilcox parks. Eisenhower Park is also a favorite destination for the CT Audubon’s evening Owl Prowl programs that Gallo leads. The Milford Point and Charles E. Wheeler Wildlife Management area where CT Audubon Coastal Center is located is a designated Important Bird Area (IBA). “One of the most overlooked areas for birding is along the Housatonic River following the Great River trail walk,” says Johnson. “The short boardwalk over the tidal marsh offers great views and birding habitat to explore.” The river happens to be a favored hunting spot for Milford’s resident Bald Eagles.
If you are interested in a guided tour replete with information on the flora and fauna, Milford celebrates CT Trails Day during the first weekend in June. Depending on how many people sign up there are walks in the morning and the afternoon. Groups tours are available. Those interested can contact Steve Johnson to arrange private tours.
With seven diverse trails, Milford’s open spaces offer something for everyone. Whether you only have a precious few minutes to unwind or are looking to spend the day in the great outdoors it is certainly time well spent.
Trail maps are available on the Open Space and Natural Resource department website, http://www.ci.milford.ct.us/open-space-natural-resource/pages/milford-open-space-walks
–Susan Carroll Dwyer