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A journey across Connecticut to celebrate state parks’ 100th birthday

It’s a celebration 100 years in the making.

The Summer Outdoor Journey, or SoJourn, is 11 days, 10 nights and 169 miles.

Journeyers will make stops at twenty of Connecticut’s 107 state parks.

“We are going to be biking, hiking, canoeing across the state,” said Diane Joy, Assistant Director of State Parks. “The whole idea behind this is to increase people’s awareness of the state parks, some of the needs, but also to encourage them to come out because they are just so beautiful.”

Diane is one of twenty people who will be making the entire SoJourn trek. There is still room for 20 more.

The Young family of Monroe is also taking part from start to finish.

“We couldn’t pass up the opportunity because we love the outdoors and the state parks,”  said Katie Young. “The opportunity to travel, bike from park to park, canoeing…those are the things we like to do as a family.”

The trek begins at Quaddick State Park in Thompson and heads southwest. Most of the traveling will be done on bike, but when the adventure hits the center of the state and meets the Connecticut River, there will be a flurry of activities.

The group spends a night at Dinosaur State Park, and a night at Gillette Castle, and takes a ride on the Essex Steam Train.

Every night, the participants will camp at a different state park. The first one will be Gay City State Park in Hebron.

Joy says that about 105 families will join for a camp-out. There will be bonfires, singing, and astronomy programs.

There will also be family sleepovers at Hammonasett in Madison, and Silver Sands in Milford.

Each stop is its own celebration.

Alex Sokolow of Chatfield Hollow  is excited to have the SoJourn come through his state park. “Eleven days is quite a challenge. I hope that they get to relax a little,” he said.

The group will be traveling one mile for every town in the state (169), and as the trip levels off along the shoreline, the last big sleepover happens at the Beardsley Zoo.

The first and oldest park in the state, Sherwood Island in Westport, is the last stop.

Joy hopes this is the start of a yearly event.

“I think by doing something like this, it will help make our families healthier, our individuals healthier, but it will also make our parks healthier, because more people will understand their value,” she said.