A Walk at Bluff Point, Groton, Connecticut
A Connecticut Hiking Trail -- Bluff Point, Groton
Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve, is over 800 acres of varied landscape. It is one of my "go to" walks as it is a circular path. Once I am on it, I challenge myself to go full circle and do the whole 3 plus miles.
This a very family friendly, well traveled path. Almost everyone you encounter is smiling and greet you. Why not? Here you can escape the hustle and bustle for a few hours and feel as if you are traveling away from home.
I will give you as much information as I can think of, from the point of view of someone who has done the Bluff Point walk. My goal is to give you a comprehensive view and more information than you can find in any one other place.
A Moderate Beautiful Walk........ - Or Bike Ride, Jog, Walk Your Dog, Horseback Ride, Fish and Picnic
To get to Bluff Point, I always take Exit 88 off of I-95. Head south on Route 117 until you can't go any further and you will hit Route 1 (Fort Hill Road). Turn right and at the next traffic light (by Town Hall) take a left onto Depot Road and go straight under the railroad bridge it will become a hard packed dirt road. Follow this into the parking lot. You will always find ample free parking here.
We went to scope this out on August 18, 2011 around noon, and for the first time ever, I saw a mobile concession stand in the parking lot. He was selling Nathan's hot dogs, snacks and beverages. I don't know how often he is here, but I will check again.
There is one handicapped parking spot, but if that is taken the rest of the parking lot is reasonably flat.
You will be able to tell where to start as there is no guard rail at the entrance. Again, no admission fee. The park is opened year round.
Just inside the entrance on both the right and left (in season) there are picnic tables -- six or seven. On the left, two of tables have standing barbeque pits next to them. Although there are only a few tables, there is usually an empty one. Most people don't come to picnic.
Also, to the left are two solar powered composting rest rooms. These are also handicapped accessible but have no facilities for washing your hands.
My Google Maps - Bluff Point Groton, Connecticut
Easy to get to.
We Are on the Path - Equipment Needed, Depending On What You Want To Do
The main paths are very wide, ranging from about 12 feet wide to 6 ft wide as it narrows. They are hard packed dirt and gravel. They can get muddy if you are walking after a snow or rain. I recommend walking shoes or sneakers, but something close toed.
The first part of the walk is probably wheelchair accessible for someone with decent upper body strength to wheel themselves, or a reasonably strong person pushing someone. You would probably be able to get almost to the Bluff, but not on it.
You need to be mindful that there may be bicycles or horses coming -- although the horses are not that common.
After .10 miles you will come to a fork in the road -- take it. (Sorry I couldn't resist).
It doesn't matter which side of the fork you take, the path is circular around the park. The path to the right is flatter up to The Point. Often, I will take this to the point and back and not do the circle.
If you take the right fork, the water will be on your right going up to the point.
Along The Way To The Point
The Beauty Of Nature
At the beginning of the walk, you will be quite close to the water. You will see narrow strips of sand and people clamming. If you want to clam, you need to obtain a permit at Town Hall (at the corner of Depot and Fort Hill Road).
You will also see people throwing balls and sticks for their dogs to fetch. Dogs are supposed to be on a leash, but no one seems to mind a well behaved dog fetching.
On the subject of dogs, the water leading up to Bluff Point is the Poquonnock River, but it leads to Long Island Sound so it is brackish rather than fresh water. You may want to bring a cooler or bottle of fresh water for your dog.
You will pass through beautiful marsh and wetlands with different wildflowers in bloom. There are wild roses and honeysuckle which scent the air when in bloom.
There are two benches for sitting, early in the walk. From either bench, you may watch the planes take off from Groton Airport, across the river.
Later on the path, there are large stones in the shade, where you may sit and rest.
Don't Be Led Astray
You will encounter a sign for the "Winthrop Foundation". When I was a newbie, I took this path and was very disappointed. I expected to find a "Foundation" or a "Trust" maybe housed in a Neo-classical mansion. Nope.
It is the foundation of the house that used to belong to governor Winthrop. If you would like to see it, by all means take the little side path and then turn around and come back to the main path. It will be .36 miles round trip.
Governor Winthrop (1606 - 1676) was very interesting.
If You Want More Of A Challenge - Side Paths
There are little side paths off the main path. Some of them are quite challenging. They go uphill and over large rocks. For these, I would suggest serious hiking shoes.
There are also many mountain bike paths off the main path.
These paths are much narrower than the main path so tick management is a good idea. There are deer in the woods, and thus deer ticks. Take precautions. Wear light clothes so you can see the little devils and tuck your pants into your socks.
Also, there is a presence of poison ivy.
Jewel Weed - Native American Cure For Poison Ivy
You will see jewel weed growing along the paths. It has a bright yellow and gold flower. It is trumpet shaped, has three petals, one of which is curled and forms a slipper like sack.
See more on Jewel Weed Identification
The Native American cure for exposure to poison ivy, is to take the jewel weed flower and squeeze it on the poison ivy. I have never had poison ivy to test this, but if you are out in the woods and you touch poison ivy, it can't hurt to try.
Would You Like to Go to the Beach? - Swim At Your Own Risk
On the way to the Bluff, there is a nice beach area.
There is no lifeguard on duty and dogs are not allowed.
The beach is clean, and I have never seen it crowded. Often, there is no one on it. I took this picture on a Thursday afternoon in August, mid day-- on a good beach day.
There is beautiful sand. Part of the sand has a lot of seashells on it, which make walking toward shore difficult with bare feet. Bring flip flops or other footwear.
At The Bluff
The Bluff is about 1.6 miles from the start of the trail. The above picture is looking somewhat down and outward from the top of the Bluff.
Just before the Bluff you will find additional rest rooms and then there is a sign pointing toward the right to the Bluff.
Once on the Bluff you can look across to Fisher's Island and the Long Island sound. It's a beautiful view often filled with sail boats.
Okay, now a decision needs to be made. You may go back the same way you came for 1.6 miles or you can continue around the loop for another 2 miles. The continuation of the loop is less flat than the approach --not horrendously hilly.
Other Major Attractions In This Area - It's Worth a Trip
We have a wide variety of things to do in Southeastern Connecticut -- a little something for everyone.
- Mystic Seaport
A recreated seaport village with historic sailing vessels and sailing items.
- Mystic Aquarium
Very close to Mystic Seaport. Live fish, seals and penguins. Educational displays. Family fun.
- Mashantucket Museum and Research Center
Beautiful displays of indian artifacts. Special self guided tours through an indian village as it was in the 1600's. "18,000 years of native and natural history."
- Submarine Force Museum
Visit the museum and USS Nautilus. Admission free.
The new Tritown Trail is a 14 mile biking and walking trail that starts at Bluff Point.
It continues into Ledyard.
We'll have to do it again sometime soon.
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© 2011 Ellen Gregory