Want to go on an easy hike in Norwalk, Connecticut? I recommend you visit Cranbury Park. If you like tough hikes then this might be way too easy for you. Also, you can get married here, have a picnic, go mountain biking, and exercise with your dog. Ok, technically you don’t get married on the trails, but you can rent the mansion located on the premises.
Gallaher Mansion is the first thing that you see when you drive into Cranbury Park. It was originally built in 1929 and is now a museum. Unfortunately, as of this post, their website is just a static photo. Therefore, I couldn’t obtain any information on the museum’s time and cost. On the latest Sunday that I went on a walk there, there was an event going on by the playground that was full of kids, parents and loud music. You can rent the mansion for all sorts of event, but weddings are popular at the location. I’ve never walked into the mansion, but on several occasions I’ve gone just to sit down on the huge lawn and read a book. If you’re not up for taking a walk, you can always just have a picnic. Hopefully, they continue updating the website and provide more information in the near future.
*Tip* If you are a Norwalk, CT resident with a beach/resident pass then there is no parking fee to enter Cranbury Park. Other CT residents pay $5.00 and out-of-state residents pay more. During the fall and winter, parking permits are not enforced.
Cranbury Park Trails
I usually start on the ADA trail/blue trail (see map here) and do a complete loop. This past weekend I hit the trail here as a warm-up before going on a bike ride at another location. I truly consider the trails more of “a walk” instead of “a hike” because there is no significant elevation. It’s also just a little over a mile long. This is why you will also see a lot of families with their kiddos in Cranbury Park, and why you will see a lot of children on their bikes throughout the trails.
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What do you think about when you hear “Connecticut?” 🤔 I once was in Los Angeles and this guy said to me that I must be rich and like kale. Stereotype much, huh? 🤷🏻♀️ For me, since I’ve lived in CT on and off since I was 5, I’ve always just viewed it as my tiny home state that is close enough to NYC but far enough that it’s laid back, where you can eat clam pizza, and where bars close way too early on the weekends. 📍Cranbury Park in Norwalk, CT 📸 @dancbr
The only challenge that can throw some people off is that there is a left turn to stay on the blue trail when it divides with the ADA trail. Even though we had been there a few times, my husband and I were distracted and continued on the wrong trail and only realized this until we were in front of a building. We walked back for a couple of minutes and then saw where we had missed the turn. The picture below shows where the blue blaze is supposed to be on the rock to alert people to make a turn. Nonetheless, it’s barely showing. Have this in mind if you decide to take a walk there. We actually saw about 2 other groups that made the same mistake we did. They kept on walking straight and eventually came back to the path…
The blue trail will eventually lead you to the red trail. Here you will mostly see pups and their human parents. On this particular Sunday we continued onto the green trail, and that is when you’ll start to see the disc golf baskets. I went in early October, but in peak fall foliage this would make for a great view.
There will be people in groups, maybe with a beer or two in hand, throwing discs. I haven’t tried it yet, but there are 18 golf baskets along the route.
You will also see some information about the plants throughout the trail.
It’s a pretty short and serene hike, and I would recommend it for people in the area that don’t want to exert themselves too much. Cranbury Park has a playground, a mansion, lots of green space to throw a frisbee or two, and a lawn to have a picnic at. So head out to Norwalk, Connecticut on a clear day just to chill and relax.