More About Northwest Park

Come for a Visit...

Come Visit Northwest Park…

There is so much to do at there Park – for an hour or a full day. Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions, and see a list of some of the things you can do!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find answers to many questions about the park. But if you can’t find what you need, contact us! We’ll be glad to answer your questions to make your visit more enjoyable, whether you come alone, with your family, or your school, scout, or religious group – or just some friends!

1. Is there any mountain biking at the park?
Mountain biking is allowed only on farm roads.

2. What trail takes you to the Farmington River?
The most direct route to the River is to take the north farm road past the Softwood Forest Trail on your left and past the Woody Succession Trail on your right. Go straight down the farm road and you will run directly into the River.

3. What is the easiest trail to hike?
The Bog Loop (also known as the Braille Trail) is probably the easiest trail. It is generally flat and has a rope guide along the entire trail.

4. What is the most challenging trail?
Both the Hemlock and Pond Trails can be quite hilly in places however; they offer some beautiful views and are well worth the effort.

5. What is the most scenic trail?
All of our trails have their own special attributes. Many people enjoy the Wetland Forest Trail because it offers views of the wetlands and takes you along a ridge above the Rainbow Reservoir.

6. Are there any poisonous snakes at Northwest Park?
There are two poisonous snakes found in Connecticut, the Timber Rattlesnake and the Northern Copperhead. These snakes have never been seen at Northwest Park and we doubt that they are present here, due to lack of adequate habitat.

7. What snakes can be found at Northwest Park?
Common snakes at the Park include the Northern Water Snake, the Eastern Milk Snake, the Eastern Garter Snake, the Eastern Ribbon Snake, the Northern Black Racer, the Northern Brown Snake, the Worm Snake, and the Hognose Snake.

8. Is there camping at the Park? Open fires?
No. The Park is only open from dawn to dusk and No open fires are allowed.

9. Is there a place to launch a small boat?
No, not from Northwest Park. The State public boat launch is located on the other side of the reservoir. Follow Route 75 North. Where the road forks, take a left onto Rainbow Rd. Take a left onto Merriman Road. The boat launch is on the left.

10. When are the Tobacco Museum and Archive buildings open?
They are open mid March to mid December, Fridays from 10 – 4 p.m.

11. Can we reserve/rent Park facilities for parties/events?
We rent the Warming Shed and Picnic Pavilion areas to people who wish to have events. For information about  facility rentals, see the Town of Windsor website here. To contact park staff, you may email northwest, phone 860-285-1886, or mail to: Northwest Park, 145 Lang Rd., Windsor, CT 06095. 

12. What do we feed our animals?
Our wild snakes eat frozen dead mice. The painted turtle, and the red-eared sliders eat crickets, meal worms, and a floating turtle pellet that is filled with nutrients! Our two box turtles, the three-toed, which is a southern variety, and the eastern box turtle which you can find around here, eat fruit-strawberries, tuna, cat food, and also small insects like grasshoppers, red worms and meal worms.

13. Do we keep our animals forever?
Both of our box turtles can not be released; they have been in captivity for too long. The painted could be released and probably will be this coming summer. Both of the baby red-eared sliders were purchased, so they are ours to keep as well!

14. What do I do with an injured animal?
At Northwest Park we do not handle injured animals and are not licensed to do any wildlife rehabilitation. Call the Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton at (860) 693-0263 or the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester at (860) 649-0949.

15. What is the Nature Center open?
Monday through Saturday, 8:30-4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

16. Can I drive in the Park?
No. Parking is allowed only in the parking lot outside the gate to Northwest Park.

17. Is there a fee to cross-country ski or snowshoe?
There is no fee to use the trails. However, rental on weekends of skis, poles, and boots, or snowshoes does have a fee. Rentals are $10 per Windsor resident and $15 per non-Windsor resident. Please call the Nature Center for current conditions.

18. If I see a nice mushroom or an interesting animal outside at the Park, can I bring it home?
No. There is no collecting allowed.

19. Who owns Northwest Park?
The residents of the Town of Windsor, Connecticut.

20. How do I get to the Park?
Take Interstate route 91 North to Exit 38. Turn right. After 1.5 miles, turn left on to Prospect Hill Road. Go 1 mile and at the rotary, turn right. About one mile ahead you will see the Park on your left.

21. How many people work at Northwest Park?
The Park employs one full-time administrator, facilities manager, naturalist and environmental educator. There are also three part-time employees, two animal caretakers, one custodian, three Tobacco Archive and Museum curators as well as seasonal interns and Nature Camp educators.

Things to Do at Northwest Park

Here’s a list of activities, games, hikes and other ideas for you and your class or children to do at Northwest Park. (*) Denotes activities, books, or worksheets that Northwest Park can provide.

Please contact Northwest Park in advance if you would like any materials, at 860-285-1886 or

    • Go for a hike, there are over 12 miles of trails to explore! Trail maps available online or at the Park.
    • Visit the boardwalk on the Wetland Forest Trail, good for wildlife viewing and listening.
    • Hike to the Beaver Pond and enjoy the sights and sounds of this unique habitat.
    • Hike the Wetland Forest Trail and search for the glacial erratic.
    • Visit the Tobacco Museum Archive and Museum, appropriate for 4th grade and higher. Please call well in advance to schedule a tour. 860-285-1886*
    • Take a stroll through the Sensory Saunter Trail.
    • Explore the Butterfly Garden.
    • Observe the Organic Demonstration Garden.
    • Visit the Animal Barn.
    • Animal Barn scavenger hunt for ages 3rd-5th grades*
    • Visit the Maple Sugar House (seasonal operation)
    • Visit the Nature Center, open Monday-Saturday 8:30-4:30 and Sunday 1:00-4:00.
    • Nature Center scavenger hunt for ages K-5th grades*

vInside the Nature Center there are live animal exhibits, geology exhibit, bird of prey from below exhibit, and other seasonal exhibits

  • Read a book from Discovery Room.
  • Visit the park prior to your class, and make your own worksheet.
  • Create a nature journal in class and bring it to the Park for writing exercises.
  • Descriptive writing projects: ex: nature poetry.
  • Math Outdoors- teach outside too! Measure distances, count trees, measure the time you run, hop, skip or walk certain distances, or find and measure the circumference of the smallest and largest trees.
  • Study Native Americans before your visit and try to locate items from nature they used in their lives.
  • Make a map.
  • Go for a color, shape, or number hike.
  • Hole hunt. Search high and low for the tiniest and largest holes. What might live inside? Look, don’t touch.
  • Egg Carton sorting. Collect seeds, pebbles, leaves and other natural objects. Remember to put everything back.
  • Bring a magnifying glass, do hula hoop observations.
  • Bring a sketchbook and sit in the forest, field or barn for awhile.
  • Have fun!!