Monday, October 3, 2016

Hubbard Park and Castle Craig...Welcome to my indepth look at CT in Meriden!

It's Castle Craig.  It's the very first tourist attraction that I visited on my very first visit to Connecticut.  It was one of the reasons that I fell in love with Connecticut.  It sits above Hubbard Park in Meriden Connecticut.

Walter Hubbard donated the castle and the land of the park to the city back in 1900.  As the marker says, no one know as much as they would like to about the castle that is more of just a turret.  What it does is give you an amazing view off the top of the mountain, and on a clear day you can see Long Island Sound.  You can also see many other things.

You can see the city, the park below, the highway going by, and the rest of the park which includes a reservoir, trails, roads and the whole top of the mountain.  It's an incredible spot, and in the fall it becomes truly amazing.  I was there a little early for the peak season foliage, but it was still gorgeous up there.  You can climb the metal stairs to the top for an even more spectacular view.  It is a well visited park, and just like every other well visited spot in Connecticut, it has had it's issues in the past.

The entrance to the mountain and the Castle is directly under I-691 in Hubbard Park.  Hubbard Park is exit 4 in Meriden off of I-691.  The entrance is gated and closes at 4:45 pm every day.  It opens at 10 am every day.  This is strictly enforced because of safety issues that have come up in the past.  If you try to drive to the top of the mountain after 4:45, park officials will run you down and ask you to leave, because they are about to close the gate for the night.  It happened to me once.  Oops!  But, during the day, you can't beat the view.

That being said, the rest of Hubbard Park is spectacular as well.  They have an outdoor pool for summer, they have an amphitheater for concerts, they have one of the best playscapes around, they have an amazing lake with fountains and a house for the ducks and geese to use when it's cold.  The park is beautifully designed with pretty buildings, bridges, ponds, waterfalls, fountains, pavilions, and trails.  Just driving through the park on it's many little roads is scenic and peaceful.  It is my favorite city park in the state.  In the winter they have one of the best drive through Christmas light displays that I have ever seen.  I rarely if ever drive to a city more than one time to go to a park.  Aside from Central Park in New York City, Hubbard Park is the only park that I revisit any time I get the chance.  It's all worth the visit over and over again so check it out.

That's the official word.  That being said, when you drive the road to the castle, there is a point where it splits.  The left goes to the castle, and the right goes to the utility towers on the other section of the mountain.  You need to visit that part.  If you like a great view, this is your best spot.  The views from the unofficial trails next to the utility towers provides the best views off the mountain.  The cliffs are dramatic and this spot is not for the feint of heart. It's a long way straight down.  But, if you like landscape shots with your camera, you can't miss this.  None of the trails are long, and it's like nothing you'll see anywhere else in Connecticut.  I highly recommend these trails, especially during foliage season. It is all part of the same road, however, and that means that you need to be out by 4:45 pm.

So, the town is Meriden.  Not far from the park is a discount mall with great shopping.  Meriden has great restaurants and is an Amtrak stop if you want to take a train.  It is a working man's city with beautiful old churches and big old factories, but the park is where everyone gets away from it all.  Hubbard Park and Castle Craig is one of the great spots in Connecticut to get out and not spend a dime.  There is no entrance fee to the park or the castle or the rest of the mountain or the drive.  It's the perfect place to come, relax, have fun with the family and enjoy the view.  If you feel the urge to walk right over a major interstate or hike to the top of the mountain, there are trails that do that too.

So, whether it's a drive or a walk, a picnic or a swim, a Christmas visit or a stop to feed the birds; Hubbard Park and Castle Craig is one of those places that you just shouldn't miss.  It's my personal oldest attraction that I've visited in the state, and I keep coming back.  Enjoy!

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