Huntington State Park
- Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection
- 900 (including Bethel and Newtown acreage)
- Off Sunset Hill Road
- At entrance
- More that 7.5 miles, unnamed but color coded
Consult signpost map at entrance.
- Trail Map
Background: Collis P. Huntington State Park, which opened to the public in 1973, is a place with some history deserving of note. It is said that the Pootatuck chief, Chicken Warrups, prowled through these woods in the days before settlement. But the forest of the deerskin hunter soon passed under the axe and the plough-and reverted to woods again in the late 19th century as the family estate of a gentleman named Luttgen. Luttgen built a chain of artificial ponds here, erected a stone lighthouse (still extant on the island in Lake Hopewell), and cruised about these waters at the helm of a small paddlewheel steamboat. So it is said. In the 1930's, the estate was acquired by Archer M. Huntington, the poet, art patron and founder of the Hispanic Society. In his will, Huntington bequeathed the property to the State.
The park, however, is named for, and will be remembered best, for other Huntingtons. Archer's father, Collis Potter Huntington, was the railroad tycoon who pushed the Central Pacific across the Wild West. And Archer's wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, was the world-famous sculptress who gave us Joan of Arc (on Manhattan's Riverside Drive), El Cid (one replica rides in Seville, Spain), Israel Putnam (and other statues here in Redding), and, of course, the wolves and bears that greet the visitor at the entrance to Huntington Park.
Key Features: Unlike most other open space lands in Redding, Huntington State Park covers relatively level country after one has negotiated a descent from the hilltop entrance area. This feature alone has made Huntington a popular run among cross-country skiers, and horseback riders, too.
One could spend a full day in the park just exploring the many trails through second-growth mixed-hardwood forest. Here and there, occasional open fields are encountered, a swamp or two, and the property's greatest attraction-its four ponds and Lake Hopewell, with a wooded island in its middle. Swimming is not permitted, though fishing is allowed (you'll need a State license).
Horseback visitors should feel at home in the park with the spirit of Anna Hyatt Huntington. It is said that nearly all her works of people had them placed astride a horse. Requested to render a statue of Christopher Columbus, she refused. Perhaps she thought Columbus an imperfect horseman, better mounted on the deck of a ship. ❧