You probably don’t think of Meriden when you're considering a summer travel jaunt or day trip. If you don’t, you’re missing out, and here’s why.
Walk a bit into , just north of Meriden’s downtown, and you will quickly forget that you’re in one of Connecticut’s most bustling urban centers.
The landscape of the former gritty mill town fades and gives way to lush greenswards, beds of flowers, a picturesque small lake with fountains and - one of the jewels in this part of Connecticut - acres upon acres of hiking trails that lead to Castle Craig atop one of the highest peaks in the region.
Hubbard Park sits in the midst of the Hanging Hills of Connecticut, a series of small mountains and looming cliffs visible in the central part of the state to travelers along local highways.
The park comprises some 1,800 acres and was created from land given to Meriden by Walter Hubbard, then-president of the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company, around the turn of the last century. It was built for about $500,000, with the help Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City.
Castle Craig sits atop East Peak and with an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet the stone observation tower affords visitors a commanding view for miles. The edifice was built in 1900 and stands 32 feet high.
“On a clear day, an observer may see the Sleeping Giant Mountain Range to the south, and catch a glimpse of New Haven, the glistening water of Long Island Sound, and even the dim profile of Long Island,” information on Hubbard Park on the town’s website states. “To the north, the foot hills of the Berkshires in Southern Massachusetts, vicinity of Mt. Tom, are discernible. The inspiration for the tower’s design has been disputed for years. Some say Walter Hubbard, a world traveler, was inspired by a Norman French Tower; others by a 12th Century Turkish Tower on the Danube; still others maintain that it was patterned upon an ancient fortification in Craigelachie, Scotland.”
There are numerous hiking trails in Hubbard Park and the area has become popular among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. One of the trails that cross the park is the 51-mile Metacomet or “blue blaze” trail that winds through numerous towns in the region.
Local groups sponsor a variety of events, concerts and festivals at the park during the warmer seasons, including the popular annual Daffodil Festival and an Easter Sunday sunrise service at Castle Craig sponsored by the local YMCA.
If all that isn’t enough to entice you to come here this summer, try this: Hubbard Park is supposedly haunted by the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills, a legend that dates back more than 100 years about a ghostly small black dog that roams the hills in and around Hubbard Park, according to the website ct.weekender.com.
“The legend of the Black Dog has been told by those living near the Hanging Hills of Meriden for over 100 years. Those who claim to have seen the dog describe it as a supernatural creature who supposedly leaves no footprints and remains completely silent as it travels along the ridges of Meriden’s Hubbard Park.”
The beauty of having such a lush landscape so close to a city like Meriden is that when you're done in the park, there's plenty of shopping and dining nearby that awaits.
boasts dozens of stores and eateries and there are several other dining options in the downtown, including the famed steamed cheeseburgers at and great pizza at places like and .