By Eileen Banisch

The beauty of nature is evident in Madison year-round, but we really shine in the warm weather months.

The obvious first stop here is Hammonasset Beach State Park. Encompassing over 900 acres of meadows, picnic grounds, biking and walking trails, a two-mile long beach, and campgrounds, Hammo, as the locals call it, also boasts the Meigs Point Nature Center, a family-friendly facility with great exhibits.

Car-Top Boating and saltwater fishing are also popular ways to commune with nature while at the park, and the campsites are rented out on a nightly or weekly basis. The CT Department of Environmental Protection oversees the park and beach. ct.gov/deep/hammonasset

Birdwatching is a popular pastime as well, with dozens of varieties of our feathered friends nesting and/or viewable in the Park, including ospreys, herons, and bald eagles. The Audubon Shop conducts guided tours year-round, or just grab your binoculars and enjoy our avian friends! (theaudubonshop.com)

The Shoreline Greenway Trail is also a great way to take in the beauty of nature. Park in the lot just east of the entrance to Hammonasset and follow the trail on foot or bicycle as it meanders through woods and meadows with beautiful, distant views of Long Island Sound. (shorelinegreenwaytrail.org)

A few miles away, Bauer Park on Copse Road has been set up for open space use, agriculture, gardens, trails and nature activities. The park encompasses some 64.5 acres with 40 acres located on the west side of Copse Road and 24.5 acres on the east side, just north of Hunter’s Trail. They host an annual festival every October as well as many nature-based programs for children and adults. (madisonct.org/166/Bauer-Park)

Rockland Preserve, a 649-acre town-owned property, is located in North Madison, west of Route 79 and just south of the Madison/Durham border, Rockland Preserve is an area of rounded, rocky hills, steep gray cliffs, ledges, and lovely wooded areas, featuring hiking trails, historic charcoal pits, and a world-class single-track bike trail. (madisonct.org/520/Rockland-Preserve)

To learn more about Madison, please visit madisonct.com or send an email to chamber@madisonct.com.