TORRINGTON — New Year’s Day dawned clear and chilly, and Lance Hansen, Burr Pond State Park’s trail manager with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, headed to the park to lead a First Day hike.
“I was running a little late, and when I got there, the parking lot was packed. We had nine RSVPs for the hike, and I was only expecting about 15 participants,including myself and five volunteers from the Torrington Trails Network,” Hansen said. “So when over 40 people were at the park, ready to hike, I was very pleasantly surprised.”
The group walked the Walcott Blue-Blaze Trail, which is is exactly 2.78 miles long, Hansen said.
“It was a little icy, but fortunately the trail only has one hill,” he said. “So we just went slow and everyone (all ages) did great.”
“The DEEP parks division gave everyone ‘First Day Hike’ patches and zipper pulls,” said Torrington Trails Network member Sharon Waagner. “It’s great that the New Year’s Day hikes are becoming so popular in Connecticut.”
A similar First Day hike at Hammonasset State Park in Madison drew a record number of people a few years ago. “More than 400 people showed up,” Hansen said.
Outdoor winter activities, Hansen said, are growing in popularity, which was evident at last year’s winter festival at Burr Pond, when hundreds of people turned out to enjoy a day of ice fishing, hikes, children’s activities, a bonfire and storytelling. The 2019 event was bright and sunny, and while it was cold, the temperatures didn’t deter anyone from having fun, he said.
This year’s “No Child Left Inside” Winter Festival is set for Feb. 1 and runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The park is located at 384 Burr Mountain Road. All activities are free of charge.
“There’s almost always ice on the water, so we always do the winter festival at Burr Pond,” Hansen said. “It’s become the home of this event. The biggest challenge is parking; we’ll be using additional space at the park’s training center, so people will have more places to park.”
On Feb. 1, children and adults can spend time together outdoors and try ice fishing if the pond is frozen, go on a hike, try snowshoeing, watch an ice sculptor, play winter games, and view a host of demonstrations from LL Bean, Resources in Search and Rescue (rescue dogs), and more. Families may also gather around fire pits for a good old-fashioned marshmallow roast and enjoy storytelling by the bonfire.
Activities include a hike with the Torrington Trails Network and the Winsted Trails Group, animal tracking with Shirley Sutton, search and rescue dog demonstrations, and programs with Matt Jobin, White Memorial Conservation Center, the Connecticut Horse Council, Friends of American Legion and People’s State Forest, the Connecticut Valley Siberian Husky Club, the Torrington Police Department and PAL, the Torrington Fire Department and Energize CT.
For information on the DEEP’s winter festival at Burr Pond State Park, visit https://portal.ct.gov/NCLI/Events/Winter-Festival