Young hikes can tackle these short nature walks. Photo courtesy of Roaring Brook Nature Center
Young hikes can tackle these short nature walks. Photo courtesy of Roaring Brook Nature Center

A Dozen Short Hikes in Connecticut for Preschoolers and Toddlers

There are hundreds of interesting hikes across Connecticut but not all trails are suitable for little legs and little feet. While your toddler or preschooler may not be ready for the Sleeping Giant blue loop or Southford Falls' watchtower trail, we think they just might love exploring the outdoors with these 12 kid-friendly hikes around Connecticut, all of which measure a mile or less.

These hiking trails are just right for the youngest walkers who might prefer collecting twigs and rocks and watching the wildlife scurry by over scaling rocks and summits. They might even teach their grown-ups a thing or two about focusing less on the destination and more on the journey. Find more Connecticut hikes, walks, and outdoor spots to explore in our Parks & Playgrounds Guide.

1. Lake Mohegan – Fairfield

Lake Mohegan is part of more than 170 acres of woodlands in Fairfield right off Morehouse Highway. With plenty of great nature trails you have the option of doing short or longer hikes with stunning surroundings chock-full of waterfalls, bridges, and plenty of entertaining stops along the way. There’s also a picnic area and small, seasonal splashpad available (day rates apply) making it the perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

2. Rocky Neck State Park – East Lyme

At Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, you can hike for as little or as much as you wish (and we’re talking 1/10th of a mile) with multiple trail options for your family. You might also want to check out the fantastic sandy Connecticut beach. Pack a picnic and eat under the stone pavilion.

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Discover the trails of Eisenhower Park but save time for the playground, too! Photo courtesy of Jackie Lema

3. Eisenhower Park – Milford

Eisenhower Park is a hidden gem in New Haven County, tucked down the hill from the widely popular Bodie’s Place playground. With mostly-flat terrain to traverse, this park offers easy, kid-friendly hikes for Connecticut kids. There are always frogs to catch, turtles to discover, and streams to dip your toes in. Plus, there’s a wonderful playground and soon-to-be splashpad back at the top of the hill.

4. Harry C. Barnes Memorial Nature Center – Bristol

Who doesn’t love the Harry C. Barnes Memorial Nature Center? With interactive exhibits, live reptiles, amphibians, and birds of prey, you really can’t go wrong. There is a wonderful short hiking loop through the woods alongside the nature center.


Hike the trails and then check out the nature center at Roaring Brook. Photo Courtesy of Roaring Brook Nature Center

5. Roaring Brook Nature Center – Canton

Roaring Brook Nature Center offers five different trails to explore, perfect for young hikers. Explore the woods and wildlife before stopping by the nature center where you’ll discover outdoor gardens, a beaver wetland exhibit, a small collection of live animals, and a nature store.

6. Westmoore Park – West Hartford

Known as a small working farm with animals, Westmoore Park offers four hiking trails all under one mile. Here you’ll find forests, ponds, and meadows, followed by a visit with Westmoore’s farm animals sure to delight children.

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Flat walking trails make Wharton Brook State Park a sure bet for kid hikers. Photo by Mommy Poppins

7. Wharton Brook State Park – North Haven

Shaded, flat, and short. Those are the best qualities of a hike with a 3 year old. The trail around the pond at Wharton Brook State Park in North Haven is just that. Bring a picnic and your fishing pole.

8. Tarrywile Park – Danbury

A stroll along the pond at Tarrywile Park is a hike that anyone can enjoy. With a restored silo and barn and a garden for the wee ones to explore, the setting is truly a treasure tucked away in Danbury.

9. Kent Falls – Kent

OK, so this hike is certainly not as easy as the last because it is actually quite steep. But it is only a quarter of a mile and the view of Kent Falls is worth the climb. Wander across the covered bridge and hike along the falls for a truly enchanting experience. It's well maintained, offers handrails, and there are plenty of lookout points.

10. Stratton Brook State Park – Simsbury

A classic New England covered bridge, groves of white pines, and a picturesque pond—Stratton Brook State Park is just a lovely hiking destination for your family. It’s got plenty of trails to choose from starting at 1/10th of a mile. There is also a picnic area and swimming in the summertime. 

11. Earthplace — Westport 

Located in a quiet corner of Westport, Earthplace provides its visitors with 62 acres of nature and wildlife sanctuary. Two miles of trails meander through a variety of habitats including fields, forests, ponds, and a stream. The six trails are clearly marked and color-coded include the Meadow Grass Trail. This flat path is easy for wobbly walkers to navigate and is fully accessible to those in wheelchairs, walkers, or strollers.  


Take a walk through Selleck’s Woods at the Darien Nature Center. Photo courtesy the nature center 

12. Selleck’s Woods — Darien 

Dense forests, two ponds, a lake, marsh, and wetlands make up this wonderland of flora and fauna located in Darien. There are several one-mile paths to pick from in the Woods' two miles of trails that traverse this ecologically diverse landscape. Preschoolers will love the "I Spy Corner," carved wood stump chairs to take a rest on, and the many bridges that take you over the river and through the woods. 

A version of this article first published in 2018. Additional reporting by Ally Noel.
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