I unloaded my mother’s walker from the back of my car and set it up by the passenger side door. Gingerly, my mother grabbed hold of its sides and climbed out of my car. We ambled carefully on the gravel to reach the boardwalk– an 825-foot path through a red maple swamp in Chatfield Hollow State Park.
As long as can I remember, I have been coming to this park, just over a mile from my childhood home in Killingworth, CT. I rode my bike through the park on a “date” in fourth grade; I’ve taken swimming lessons in the lake; I’ve hiked the many trails that crisscross glacial ridges, stony cliffs, a covered bridge, a waterwheel and caves where Native American artifacts have been found.
My family is lake lovers—we’re fair-skinned and shun the sun at the beach—and when I traveled with my parents and siblings, and later with my three children, we always searched for fresh water swimming.
|Originally a grist mill operated by three brothers, named Chatfield, who emigrated from England around 1639, the area became a park in 1933 when the Civilian Conservation Corps built an earth and stone dam across the brook and created a seven -acre swimming beach, planted pine trees, cleared hiking trails and picnic areas. It was designated a state park in 1949 and remains under state management.|
|The wetland boardwalk was built and has been upgraded with informational signs, describing the flora and fauna of the swamp.
I’ve often taken my mother for walks here and we enjoy experiencing the seasons from the boardwalk. Since her stroke and her recovery, we’ve mostly walked on the paved road. It’s been the perfect place for her to get some exercise and fresh air. This time I suggested we try the boardwalk and appreciated how it made nature accessible to her.