Despite Groton, CT, having some densely populated sections, there's a ton of open space in the community that is ready for you to explore.
This town with 40,000 residents is situated between the Thames and Mystic rivers, with the Poquonnock running the middle of it to the Groton Reservoir. Groton also offers access to Fishers Island Sound via those rivers, Palmer Cove, Mumford Cove, and Baker Cove, providing its inhabitants with plenty of ways to get on the water.
Parks are aplenty in Groton, as well. Bluff Point State Park and Pequot Woods Park are two of the most prominent, but smaller natural areas are equally popular with locals looking for a day away from the crowds.
One such location is Haley Farm State Park, a historic site with easy-to-access trails that the whole family will enjoy.
Here's a look at what you can expect as you visit Haley Farm State Park in Groton, Connecticut.
The Park's History
Before all else, it's a good idea to learn a bit about Haley Farm's history because it's as old as Connecticut itself.
It all begins back in 1648 when John Winthrop Jr., who would later become the Connecticut Colony's first governor, was granted a section of farmland in present-day Groton. The land was later split, and the section that would later become Haley Farm was known as Fort Hill Farm.
The farm would change hands multiple times through the 1700s and 1800s, being purchased by Starr Chester in 1789, ending up in possession of Noyes Barber in 1833, and bought again by Henry B. Lewis in 1852.
Caleb Haley finally bought 400 acres of the land in 1869, and his family held most of the property until Caleb's granddaughter, Juliet Haley, sold it to A.C. White in 1953.
Haley's ownership is significant because he loved building stone walls. Constructing these walls was a hobby of sorts for Haley, as he would take rocks and boulders from all over the property, extracting them with an ox and a pulling device designed by his neighbor, Francis E. Merritt, and create barriers from them. The walls were also used to separate the various pastures on the property.
When Juliet Haley sold the land in 1953, A.C. White had planned to develop it. However, he ended up putting the property up for sale after he decided to develop some land closer to Mumford Cove.
There was some opposition to development on Haley's Farm in the 1960s, leading to the property changing hands a few times while various parties figured out what to do with it. The State of Connecticut eventually bought the land in 1970, officially turning it into a State Park later that year.
The facility's history is on full display from the second you enter Haley Farm State Park because stone walls and the remains of various buildings are everywhere. You can't miss them as you exit your vehicle.
Next, you're sure to notice the trails. The park has a paved bike route that runs through its center and connects to the G&S Trolley Trail. The path comes out in the Poquonock Bridge neighborhood, and you can follow it to downtown Groton.
Other unpaved trails also run through various parts of the park. A short path takes you along Palmer Cove and comes out at a unique rock formation, called Canopy Rock or Jemima's Rock, near the railroad tracks.
Other pathways travel to Race Track Pond, Gibson Pond, and Robert E. Fitch Senior High School. If you follow the main path past the railroad tracks and continue west, you'll cross Fort Hill Brook on a covered bridge before entering Bluff Point State Park.
There are trails all along Mumford Cove in Bluff Point State Park, and you'll even come across a small beach on the shores of the Poquonnock River.
Hiking and biking are the names of the game at Haley Farm State Park, as they give you the rare opportunity to experience nature in a historical setting without venturing too far from town.
How to Get There
Arriving at Haley Farm is relatively straightforward, as it sits just outside of Groton's Noank village. The easiest way to reach the park is by taking Fort Hill Road into Poquonock Bridge and heading south on Groton Long Point Road. You'll then turn right onto Brook Street, which takes you directly to the park.
There are two places you can begin your exploration of Haley Farm, depending on which section of the park you wish to experience. There's a small dirt pull-out where Groton Long Point Road and Brook Street meet. From there, you can hike through the woods a short distance to Gibson Pond.
The other parking area is just off Brook Street on Haley Farm Lane. There's a bit more parking here, and this area is where you'll find the remains of the stone walls and the farm's structures.
You really can't go wrong with either place because they offer easy access to the wilderness without having to travel too far from your home in Groton.
Haley Farm State Park is yet another location that makes Coastal Connecticut a special place to live and is well worth your time once you purchase a residence in the area.