*NEW - July 2011* East Haddam Trail Guide prepared by the Conservation Commission. Contains 44 pages of maps, details of trails, canoe and kayak launches. Printed version available at various locations throughout East Haddam or for download on Conservation Commission page of this website.
See a detailed description of each recreation area by clicking the name below or to view the full list of all the recreation areas click here.
STATE PARKS AND PRESERVES
Off of East Haddam-Colchester Turnpike east of the Moodus Reservoir – access from Starr, Olmsted and Wickham Roads, Moodus section of East Haddam.
A magnificent preserve located at the East Haddam and Colchester border - 250 acres are in East Haddam and 980 acres are in Colchester. Easy walking trails.
In East Haddam, take Route 151 North and make left onto take Maple Avenue. Proceed west down the hill to the intersection with Creek Row. Turn left onto dirt road and park is on the right.
Good place to walk through fields to view wildflowers and birds. 24.65 acres with view of the river in the winter.
Route 82 to Mount Parnassas/Millington Road to Hopyard Road, East Haddam - (860) 873-8566
Bisected by the Eight Mile River, the 860 acre park features trout fishing, picnic areas, and 15 miles of hiking trails. The Connecticut Ornithological Association lists the Hopyard as one of the 10 best birding sites in Connecticut. A main feature of the park, spectacular Chapman Falls drops 60 feet in three main cascades. According to the Eastern Waterfall Guide, it is one of the Top 10 falls in Connecticut. The potholes at the base of the falls are said to be the hoof prints left by the devil as he hopped from ledge to ledge to keep dry.
312 acres located in East Haddam and Lyme off of Essex Turnpike.
67 River Road, Hadlyme section of East Haddam- (860) 526-2336
The grounds of the Castle are almost as interesting as the Castle itself. William Gillette had three miles of narrow gauge railroad, which are now hiking trails and include river views, trestles and tunnels. The railroad station "Grand Central" has been restored and one of Gillette's trains is on display at the Visitor’s Center. Stone walls, a goldfish pond, scenic overlooks and wooded areas with picnic facilities are just some of the other highlights of the park. Admission to the grounds is free. (See also "Gillette Castle" in the attractions section.)
Off of Route 151 on Moodus Leesville Road, Moodus section of East Haddam.
Trails follow old roads and pathways in a scenic area with great views of the Salmon and Moodus Rivers, cliffs, old quarries and swamps. It’s a great location for bird watching, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.
In the Moodus section of East Haddam, on the border of Haddam and East Hampton. From route 151, access to Leesville Dam is on the left side of Powerhouse Road. Bear left beyond the dam to follow Stockburger Road through the forest to its intersection with North Moodus Road.
Salmon migration can be seen in May at the Leesville Dam Fishway, recently built to provide access to the upper river. Fishing is not permitted above the dam. Moderate walking with steep slopes and towering hemlocks grace the area.
EAST HADDAM LAND TRUST PROPERTIES
The East Haddam Land Trust, Inc. is a local, private, non-partisan and tax-exempt organization formed in 1979. Its purpose is to conserve irreplaceable land and water open spaces. The Trust currently owns 230 acres of land in East Haddam and holds 143 acres of easements on its preserves, many of which have marked hiking trails open to the public. Detailed maps and descriptions of each of the 14 preserves can be found on the Land Trust website
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY PROPERTIES
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since its founding in 1951, the organization has protected more than 119 million acres of landand 5,000 miles of riversworldwide, operating more than 100 marine conservation projects globally. The lower Connecticut River Tidelands have been designated by the Nature Conservancy as one of its “Last Great Places” in the world. Several of its key conservation areas are located within East Haddam:
Route 82 to Woodbridge Road to Dolbia Hill Road in the North Plain section of East Haddam
The Burnham Brook Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy and consists of more than 1,000 acres of wild woodland. The preserve is located off Dolbia Hill Road just south of Devil's Hopyard State Park. In addition to the watersheds of Burnham and Strong brooks, the preserve protects about one mile of the Eightmile River and includes permanent springs, wooded vernal pools, red maple swamps, a flood plain meadow and ledges and rocky outcrops. The Nature Conservancy maintains the preserve as a natural area specifically for scientific research. Visitors are welcome to walk the visitor's trail, which is blazed with blue markers.
Route 82 to River Road, East Haddam.
The preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy and the East Haddam Land Trust, Inc., covers 600 acres. It includes upland forest, brooks, a tidal pool, flood plain forests, marshes and abundant wildlife. It is best reached by canoe, but trailheads on River Road lead to marked trails of moderate to steep terrain.
TOWN OF EAST HADDAM RECREATION AREAS
Also see East Haddam Parks & Recreation, Conservation Commission and East Haddam Schools.
From Moodus Center, take Route 151 northwest to Davidson Road on the right. Follow Davidson Road to the end.
Easy/moderate walk up to the ridge top of Cave Hill. Views of Moodus, interesting plants and flowers.
Off of Route 149 near Falls Road.
On lower Moodus Reservoir off of East Haddam Colchester Turnpike.
RIVERS, LAKES AND BOAT LAUNCHES
The Town of East Haddam maintains a “car top” boat launch at Goodspeed Landing, just south of the Goodspeed Opera House parking lot.
This state site off of Route 149 is an excellent place to launch a powerboat, small sailboat or canoe. With a panoramic view of the junction of the Salmon and Connecticut Rivers, it is a lovely spot for relaxed river viewing or fishing.
These fresh water lakes are wonderful for canoeing, boating and fishing. The reservoir is one of the best largemouth bass lakes in the state and also has pickerel and crappie. Bashan is noted for smallmouth bass and trout. Lake Hayward has large mouth bass, yellow perch and trout. Moodus Reservoir has 2 state boat launches, on the lower reservoir off of Mott Lane and on the upper reservoir on Launching Area Road. Lake Hayward’s state boat launch is on East Shore Drive and Bashan Lake’s state site is on Ballahack Road.
Along the Connecticut River, Town Office parking lot Eagle Viewing Site near Riverhouse, overlooking the North side of the East Haddam Swing bridge
Migrating bald eagles congregate and winter along the Connecticut River and feed primarily on fish. Eagles remain in Connecticut as long as the food supply is abundant and the water remains free of ice, generally December through mid-March. Eagles are often observed perched in large trees or gliding in the wind currents that flow near the highlands and over the bridge.
Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest. A wide variety of adventures can be found to suit all ages and experience levels. For more information, visit www.letterboxing.org
Today, the mysterious noises are more folklore than reality. Apparently located in an area of East Haddam which includes Cave Hill and Mount Tom, where the Salmon and Moodus Rivers come together, legend tells of loud and sometimes violent ground quakes. The early inhabitants of the area, the people of the Pequot, Mohegan and Narragansett tribes believed the rumblings were brought on by the god Hobomoko. They called the area Machimoodus meaning, "the place of bad noises." Many other legends and tales have been passed along to describe the reoccurring noises including chemical explosions beneath the earth, the pressure from a giant pearl which blocked an underground cavern, and pearls in the mussels in the Salmon and Connecticut Rivers. Modern instruments and geophysical research have attributed the Moodus Noises to shallow "micro earthquakes."