Adventureland: Nutmeg Edition
Monkeying around Connecticut's Westwoods preserve
As far as New England travel writing is concerned, Connecticut gets a bum deal. The gateway between New York and the northeast packs a wallop when it comes to its spectrum of environments—expansive beaches, deep woods, traprock cliffs, roaring waterfalls, and punishingly steep mountains—but it all seems to get overshadowed the suburban sprawl where investment bankers retire each day. It doesn’t help that Connecticut hasn’t really placed these rustic attributes the heart of their brand. Unlike New Hampshire (“the Granite State”,) Rhode Island (“the Ocean State”) or Maine (“the Pine Tree State”,) Connecticut is called “the Nutmeg State” because—according to the Connecticut State Library—the “early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs.”
My own theory as to why Connecticut is so routinely passed over by travelers is more geographic in nature. For people living in New York or visiting the city, the state is far too close to the metro area to feel like much of an adventure. On the flipside, people using Boston as a travel hub are more likely to be lured to the mountains and coastal climates of northern New England, which offer an epic scale that Connecticut, for all its unsung beauty, just can’t compete with. This might present a challenge for the Nutmeg State’s tourism department, but for hikers, it yields a surprising amount of quietude on Connecticut trails. In the years that I’ve been coming here to go hiking, nabbing parking and taking a cathartic piss near the trail have rarely felt easier. This past Monday, en route to visit a dear friend in the coastal community of Norwalk, I walked into a preserve of forest in Guilford expecting an easy, meditative bumble.
Instead, I found myself lost in a jungle gym of glacial boulders, moss, and leaves.