ALTSP and Families: A Perfect Match in COVID-19 Times

By Steve Sokoloski

The ALTSP has become a haven for my family in this year of Covid-19. As pandemic restrictions became the new normal last spring, exploring the trail from North Windham to Pomfret Station became the mainstay recreation for our family “bubble”. Retired grandparents, our then pregnant daughter, an active two-year-old, a dog, and now a six-month-old, we have become a merry band, finding socially distanced adventure on the trail as a daily activity.

We have found the ALTSP to be a welcoming place for family recreation. The trail is a broad, flat avenue, great for walking or a bike rides. A stroller with sturdy wheels is usually fine on the packed stone dust surface. The long straight site distances offer plenty of time to adjust masking, or to step aside to wait for passing runners, bikes or parties with dogs or horses.  There are just enough people so you can travel by yourself, yet you do not feel alone. The trail gets more crowded on the weekends or when you are close to the parking areas at Pomfret Station or Goodwin Forest. The more remote road crossings offer a few trailside parking spaces if you want to be more isolated. The road crossings break the trail into short sections, offering a variety of trip possibilities.

We have made piles of acorns for the squirrels and collected raspberries for the birds. We know where the turtles lay their eggs, and the logs they like to sun on after they are born.  We have learned to walk quietly so we can watch the frogs before they jump. We know that ducks say, “quack” and geese say, “honk”. We have counted the herons and nests in the North Windham rookery and found the geocache up by the Pomfret Senior Center. It is always worth the walk to see if the noisy, “Oreo Cookie Cows” are out at the farm on Griffin Road. We have found the rock that commemorates the site of Elliott’s Station. We throw rocks in every pond and admire the work of beavers in constructing homes and dams. We have played miles of “shadow tag” pretending to be hawks chasing Yaya and Pee.  We have explored side trails in the Gellert Preserve, and the Native Plant Gardens at the Goodwin Education Center, and “discovered’ that the horse trail at Hampton Reservoir loops back to the Air Line making a nice one-mile loop.  On another side trip (that was destined for a major melt down) on the Blue Flag Meadow trail, Momma discovered that the trail was “enchanted” and magic jellybeans began appearing just up the trail on tree limbs and rocks, just in time to get us all back to the Air Line.

If you are looking for a place to go with family, pack your stroller with lots of snacks and drinks, be patient and kind with your kiddos, (you can turn around and go back any time) and head for adventure on the ALTSP.