Brisk Winter Walks 2011

So you've made that New Year's resolution to get out and hike more. You have the boots, the hiking stick and the energy bar. But where do you go in the dead of winter? Who is brave enough to go out when the north wind howls? What about the snow? The thaw mud? The ice?

All these questions have a simple answer – "Brisk Winter Walks Series" sponsored by the Great Meadows Conservation Trust, Connecticut Audubon Society Center and Eleanor Buck Wolf Nature Center. Starting Jan. 9, members of the trust will take area hikers to various places within the Great Meadows – a 4,500-acre floodplain in the towns of Glastonbury, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield and the largest freshwater marsh in the state.

The 90-minute to two-hour guided hikes will take place in East Hartford, Glastonbury, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield and depart from places like Rocky Hill's Ferry Park, Glastonbury Town Hall and East Hartford's Hockanum Park.

The first hike on Jan. 9 will be led by Larry Lunden, land management chairman of the trust, who will identify wildlife within a parcel in Rocky Hill known as the Methodist Church parcel. The hike starts at 1 p.m. from Ferry Park, 313 Meadow Road (Route 160) in Rocky Hill.

On Jan. 22, the trust's Jim Woodworth will lead a hike over a new bridge built by Eagle Scouts and along the edge of a marsh and farm fields in Wethersfield. The hike will depart at 10 a.m. from 160 Middletown Avenue south of Maple Street (Route 3).

On Jan. 29, Woodworth will lead a short walk to the Wolf Parcel and DeMille easement in Wethersfield to highlight habitat improvements. The 10 a.m. hike will depart from 412 Hartford Avenue at Jordan Lane. The walk will continue along the Hartford dike that divides the Folly Brook Natural Area from the South Meadows Industrial Park.

Lunden will lead the Feb. 6 hike and will explore the Glastonbury meadows. The 1 p.m. hike will depart behind town hall at 2413 Main St. and participants will explore the Preissner parcel and the meadows.

School is back in session as Woodworth and Bruce Morton - Goodwin College's director of environmental studies - focus on the natural reclamation process of excavated areas and plans to restore the floodplain forest within the 300-acre Crow Point property owned by the college. The Feb. 12 hike departs at 10 a.m. from Putnam Park at 100 Great Meadow Rd just north of the Putnam Bridge in Wethersfield.

The final hike of the season takes place on Feb. 26 with Woodworth and Morton leading an exploration of the Wilson-Carvalho and Hockanum Meadows in East Hartford. The parcels are where Goodwin College students study environmental science. The 10 a.m. hike departs from Hockanum Park, 324 High St.

So now you have six excuses to get out and enjoy the joys of a New England winter. None of these interest you? Feel free to visit for more ideas. For information and weather cancellations, contact the Audubon center at 860-633-8402.