Book Review: Connecticut Walkbook (West)

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I’ve been living at home in Connecticut for the past 5 months.  I’ve traveled lots, but hiked locally little.  However, I have found a wonderful resource to help me get outside near my home.  That resource is the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s Connecticut Walkbook (West).  The Connecticut Forest and Park Association has succeeded in creating a highly functional, practical, and informative guide to some of Connecticut’s best trails.

What is the Connecticut Park and Forest Association?

The CFPA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1895.  It is in place to protect the landscapes of Connecticut.  The CFPA acquires and maintains public lands, and works with private landowners to ensure safe and seamless access to recreational infrastructure within Connecticut.  They also publish Connecticut Woodlands magazine.  Learn more on the CFPA’s website.

The Book

Allow me to explain exactly what this book is.  It is a guidebook for the blue-blazed hiking trails in Connecticut that are maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.  The only trail in the book that exists outside of this category is the Appalachian Trail.  This is not a comprehensive guide to every trail in Connecticut.  However, it does feature the majority of Connecticut’s most beautiful, well known, and longest trails.  There are two editions:  East and West.  I have the West edition, because I live on the western side of the state.  Any trail that falls on the east side of the Connecticut River is not included in the West edition, and vice-versa (although they do include ALL trails in the full state map at the beginning of the book – shown below).

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What This Book Does Well

  • This book is set up in a highly functional and extremely useful way.  The entire book is in fact a ring binder.  This allows the user to remove maps and hike descriptions and take them along on a hike without having to tear out a page or make copies.
  • Each trail is it’s own chapter.
  • Although this book is focused towards CT’s blue blazed trails, it also acknowledges and describes other trails with different color blazes that intersect the main trail of interest.
  • The first map in the book is of the entire state (shown above).  This allows the user to approximate the distance between his or her current location and the trail before setting out.
  • The maps are clean, uncluttered, and feature a contour interval of 32.8 feet, making it easy to read topography.
  • All maps feature the same scale, allowing seamless transition between maps.
  • There are many insets throughout the guidebook that share interesting pieces of natural or cultural history.
  • It has pictures!

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Potential Improvements

  • Since the pages can be taken out of the book and onto the trail, it would be nice if the book was made of waterproof paper.  I imagine that would drastically drive up the price, so if nothing else, maybe the maps could be printed on waterproof paper.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this is an excellent book for anyone looking to get out on the trails in the state of Connecticut. It is detailed and informative, yet simple and easy to use.  There are very few flaws.  You may need to supplement your guidebook collection to include other trails throughout Connecticut.  However, this book will give you plenty to work towards.  If you’re up for the challenge, you can let this book guide you into the Connecticut 400 Club!  The Connecticut 400 Club recognizes anyone who has hiked the length of every trail in the CFPA’s blue blazed system.  Don’t get your hopes up that you only have to hike 400 miles though, as that number is a relic of 1976 when the award was established.  Today, there’s over 825 miles of trail to cover before you can reach the 400 Club!  Let’s crack open the Connecticut Walkbook and get hiking!

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