State, City Parks Allow Waterbury Residents Plenty of Fresh Air
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young
Waterbury and surrounding towns offer a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities, from camping to caving, paddleboats to paintball and just about everything in between. A trolley line through Waterbury’s smaller next-door neighbor of Middlebury put Lake Quassapaug on the map as a summer resort 100 years ago, and the area has been a favorite family spot for generations. It’s now called Quassy Amusement Park, with a private beach, paddleboats, two dozen rides, a picnic area and an outdoor stage. The park can host and cater groups as large as 10,000, though it will also handle a small birthday or anniversary party. Quassy Park is only one of the Waterbury area’s recreational offerings. Black Rock State Park in nearby Watertown is a gem, 439 acres in rolling hills where visitors can swim, hike, camp, fish and picnic. The park is rich with scenery and history – the name “Black Rock” comes from the graphite that early settlers mined, and arrowheads, stone implements and other artifacts found on the site confirmed its use by members of the Mohegan, Paugussett and Tunxis tribes. Black Rock has stunning, wooded ledges and trails that can take a short 30 minutes or all day. The Mattatuck Trail from the Grey Stone section in Waterbury to the Wigwam Reservoir in Morris gives hikers a panorama of the Naugatuck Valley with side trails to ponds, forests and meadows. The trail itself goes for 35 miles – one highlight is one of the region's few “Leatherman” caves on Route 6, the overnight lodging of a famous vagabond who walked a 365-mile loop and stopped at the cave every 34th night. Watershed Balloons has hot-air balloon flights over western Connecticut; Mountains Unlimited has whitewater rafting trips on the Housatonic and Farmington rivers. Golfers have plenty of options: East Mountain Golf Course and Western Hills Golf Course in Waterbury and Crestbrook Park Golf Course in Watertown are 18-hole public facilities. Crestbrook also has swimming and tennis. The city also maintains a network of public parks, and for those who like their sports a bit messier, Waterbury is home to a popular Extreme Paintball facility that covers 50 acres and Roller Magic on Industry Lane provides old-fashioned fun on wheels.