Hubbard Park is a gem in central Connecticut
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Meriden - posted Mon., Aug. 12, 2013
Nestled in nearly the geographic center of Connecticut, the town of Meriden has the most acreage devoted to park land of any town in the state. Most of that is in the 1,800-acre Hubbard Park, which is sometimes confused for a state park due to its size and variety of offerings.
Wealthy industrialist Walter Hubbard donated the land to the town in the year 1900, and that donation included the construction of Castle Craig, a 32-foot observation tower perched atop East Peak within the park, with an elevation of 976 feet above sea level.
Meriden Mayor Mike Rohde is also a fan of and expert on Hubbard Park. "Hubbard wanted to donate the land for people to recreate and have a good time," Rodhe said. "It's absolutely fabulous. It's just an iconic park. People come here just to see a park of this magnitude."
On a clear day, one can see New Haven and the Long Island Sound, Hartford, Springfield and Mt. Tom in Massacusetts from Castle Craig, which can be reached by car, or, for those desiring a really good workout, a 3.5-mile hike up the paved road trail. Rodhe said that on the entire Eastern seaboard of the U.S., East Peak is the highest peak within 20 miles of the coast.
Mirror Lake - including its fishing, duck-feeding and fountains - is arguably the second most-popular feature of the park. There is also a large, $300,000 Boundless Playscape, which Rohde said was privately funded and accommodates children of different needs. The James J. Barry Bandshell, built in 1956, was named for a former park superintendent and is the site of numerous concerts and outdoor festivals. The grounds of the park also make it a desired setting for events of many sorts.
"We have a festival or an event here almost every week," Rohde said. "Anything from pet fairs to 5k races, fireworks, soap box races, and so forth." On Aug. 11, Rodhe was volunteering at the 46th annual Puerto Rican Festival, which utilized the bandshell and grounds to host food vendors, carnival rides and several local organizations. He said approximately 5,000 people usually attend that event.
"Something's going on here all the time," Rohde said.
For more information, visit www.cityofmeriden.org/content/Hubbard_Park/.