We have visited Northwest Park and Nature Preserve in Windsor, Connecticut many times over the past 30 years and have always enjoyed it. The park is a diverse habitat with forests, fields, streams and a lot of scenic views. The many trails in the park vary in length, are well-marked and maintained and are nice to hike. The park offers a nice detailed map/guide of their trail system. Some of the trails even provide a good view of Rainbow Reservoir on the Farmington River and the associated boating activities happening on the river.
The park’s Nature Center has an interesting assortment of wildlife, including snakes, turtles, frogs and fish as well as additional exhibits on the species of animals native to the park, all with good write-ups and is educational. Exhibits on the weather associated with the park and the center’s geothermal heating and cooling system are also included as well as a gift shop.
The multiple types of gardens, including the butterfly and organic demonstration gardens are interesting and so is the maple sugar house, which is seasonal. The animal barn is quite nice with various types of heritage breed farm animals, including a donkey and a goat, sheep, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, pigs, and ducks. Two separate areas in the park include a pasture with the park’s cow, Strawberry, and another large section with a mule and a hinny, all quite unique. There is also a pond with turtles and multiple types of fish that children really enjoy.
The park even has a tobacco museum (Luddy Tobacco Museum and Archives) which is housed in two separate buildings. One of the buildings has exhibits of the early and modern types of equipment and the process used in growing and harvesting the cigar tobacco crop. The other building is an archive exhibiting paintings, photographs, writings and other artifacts related to tobacco. Both buildings provide a good representation of the history associated with the park and of the tobacco growing industry in the Connecticut River Valley.
The park could be used for picnicking as well as group functions, having multiple picnic areas, including a picnic pavilion, a warming shed and a group of picnic tables under trees. Some of the picnic areas require a permit in order to use them.
The park could be enjoyed by children as well as adults, and includes a playground with multiple activities for children. It is a nice place to walk a dog and includes a fenced in Dog Park with benches with two separate sections, one for small dogs and another for large dogs. The only thing is dogs are not allowed in most of the buildings in the park. The park is a hidden gem in Windsor, a great place to get away for a while, relax and enjoy nature as well as the exhibits on display. The park has changed throughout the many years that we have been going there, with many improvements. It has a lot to offer with something for everyone and changes with the seasons with several events throughout the year, including a country fair, coffee houses and day camps. It’s a great place to visit for the whole family.
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