Did you know that forest covers 70% of Connecticut?
Unfortunately for Connecticut farmers, much of the state’s ground is too rocky to grow anything valuable. So most headed west 150 years ago, leaving the forest to reclaim their old haunts.
So, our deceptively young forests make attractive spots for nature lovers.
And yet, one snuggled between Greenwich and Stamford is the ideal green space for city lovers visiting these first-class towns.
Mianus River State Park covers 527 acres where city-weary visitors straddle the best of both worlds:
- The shopping, dining and art of the city
- And the stunning serenity of nature
This is the spot to lose yourself on the hiking trails and leave all the stress of the city behind. Yet because it is conveniently located 10 minutes from downtown Greenwich, CT you can be back in town sipping a glass of wine in no time.
Here’s all you need to know about Mianus River State Park.
How to Pronounce Mianus
If you’re asking for directions, it’s always helpful to know how to pronounce Mianus, so let’s start there. The proper pronunciation is Mai-a-nuhs.
This is very different from how teenagers wish they could pronounce it, mind you.
History of Mianus River State Park
The river’s name honors Chief Sachem Myn Myano which means “he who gathers together.” His tribe lived on the land spanning from the NY-CT border south to Cos Cob and the Long Island Sound until the mid-1660s.
By the mid-1660s, the diseases that European settlers introduced decimated the local tribes. Those same settlers forced the survivors off their land in the Mianus River valley.
The majority of the park sits on rocky land to the west of the Mianus River. Here, lovely shady mature forests and the rugged landscape edge the Greenwich/Stamford border.
The land exchanged hands many times over, with different parcels used for various purposes for over 300 years.
The park began in earnest when Stamford purchased land in the area. Greenwich added another large tract a few years later. Connecticut purchased the final parcel that made the tract complete. The state created the park in 1972.
The park’s popularity led to overuse in the mid-2000s. A joint Stamford-Greenwich action plan supported by the National Park Service repaired the damage. Since then, the park continues to prevent further erosion of the park’s natural features.
About the Landscape of Mianus River State Park
Set along a two-mile stretch of the Mianus River, you can:
- Explore mature forest
- Spot a diverse variety of wildlife
- And discover vernal pools left behind from local snow and rain
Deciduous and evergreen trees shade the rolling hills of the area. Meanwhile shrubs, ferns, wildflowers, and grasses cover the forest floor. The natural dampness of the river also produces many varieties of toadstools.
This writer’s personal favorite part of the park is a dense clump of mountain laurels. Our state flower has a strong showing close to the riverbank.
What to Do at Mianus River State Park
The park is known for its hiking trails where people jog, cycle, walk their dogs and of course hike. Nature lovers appreciate the park’s beauty and the opportunity to spot local wildlife.
Here are some of our favorite things to do at Mianus River Park, one of the best state parks in Connecticut:
Traverse the Hiking Trails
From rugged routes to easy strolls, there are miles of beautiful hiking trails in Mianus River Park. Guests can even explore a nature trail that features 13 points of interest over the course of 2.5 miles.
Be sure to download a printable trail map to bring with you on your journey.
If you’re an avid angler, you’re in luck!
Fishing is allowed year-round in Mianus River Park. And park officials stock the river with thousands of trout in the spring and fall.
The Mianus River is also known for its “early black stonefly hatch” in late March, when aquatic insects hatch from the river and fly into the trees to mate. When the females return to the water to lay their eggs, the trout are waiting just beneath the water’s surface. And the fisherman are waiting right above it!
Guests should be aware that fishing is catch and release only from September through April. Visitors can keep at most two trout per day throughout the rest of the year.
Visit Treetops State Park
Treetops is a parcel of land immediately south of the Mianus River Park. It is the former estate of singer and actress Libby Holman. During the 1930s, Holman purchased 55 acres of land and built a spectacular neo-Georgian mansion.
Locals called the estate Treetops.
In love with the natural beauty of the area, Holman also purchased adjacent parcels. Over the decades, she expanded her estate to 110 acres.
Over the years she planted tens of thousands of daffodils, hosted lavish parties, and created a rich legacy that lives on today.
Connecticut eventually purchased the property. It connects via trails to the rest of the protected area.
Some more attractions in the area and nearby include:
- Mianus River Park Bike Trails:
There are also a variety of mountain bike trails and interconnected loops located throughout the park. You’ll find both well-maintained, smooth, trails and more challenging technical trails. Cyclists can wind past rock outcroppings, skirt the edge of the river, and enjoy the area’s spectacular scenery.
- Mianus River Gorge Preserve:
The gorge covers over 1,100 acres of land in the Mianus River Watershed near Bedford, NY.
- Mianus River State Park Scenic Reserve:
This is ideal for peaceful, cushy walks through a very scenic area.
This year-round park is ideal for cross country skiing, fishing, hiking and biking and of course taking in the vibrant colors of the fall foliage.
How to Get to Mianus River State Park
It doesn’t take long to get your hiking boots dirty if you’re in Greenwich or Stamford!
To get to Mianus River State park from Stamford:
Proceed north on Route 104 at the junction of Route 15 (Merritt Parkway, Exit 34) for about 3 miles. Turn left on Riverbank Road and drive another 5 miles and turn right on Merribrook Lane. If you see the road name changes from Riverbank to Westover, don’t panic, you’re on the right road. Follow Merribrook for about a quarter of a mile until you see parking on either side of the road. Parking for the park is free.
To get to Mianus River State Park from Greenwich:
Head up Maple Avenue (wave as you pass us on the left), and turn right onto North Street. Turn right onto Doubling Road, then right again onto Hill Road. Turn left onto Stanwich Road, then right onto Cognewaugh Road. Drive with care along the narrow Cognewaugh Road. You will see Greenwich’s parking lot for Mianus River State Park on the left.
Find even more things to do in Greenwich, CT
With plenty more hiking opportunities, any afternoon is a perfect one to explore Greenwich.
Some more top parks in Greenwich for hiking include:
- Babcock Preserve
- Greenwich Audubon
- Montgomery Pinetum and Pomerance Park
And there are even more Connecticut hiking trails within a short drive from Mianus River State Park.
And afterwards, be sure to explore more that Greenwich has to offer:
- Beaches near Greenwich
- Shopping in the downtown Greenwich shopping district
You’ll find many more attractions, activities, and things to do here in the Greenwich, CT, Visitor’s Guide.
Edited, updated, and re-published: February 4, 2022