What Is It That Separates McLean’s Outdoor Wellness Programs From Everyone Else? Pretty Much Everything

September 15, 2022

With 125 acres of towering white pines and unspoiled wilderness, there’s a natural beauty here that just makes you want to go outside, breathe the fresh air and just do things. Between neighboring Hop Meadow Country Club and the McLean Game Refuge, very few Life Plan Communities offer the outdoor exercise opportunities you’ll find here at McLean.

Let’s start with Hop Meadow Country Club, to which all McLean residents receive social memberships. Here, you can swim laps or just splash around in the club’s large pool. Play tennis or pickleball on its multiple courts. And, of course, there’s golf. Hop Meadow’s majestic 18-hole championship golf course features dramatic elevation changes and five sets of tee boxes that create an enjoyable challenge for players at all skill levels.

Speaking of golf, on September 12 Hop Meadow will host the 32nd Annual McLean Golf Tournament to benefit McLean Home Care & Hospice, which attracts golfers from throughout the region. The club is also in the backyard of The Goodrich, our beautiful, new residential expansion that recently opened. The Goodrich Terrace is the perfect place to sip a drink, socialize and watch golfers from a beautiful vantage point.

Trivia buffs will enjoy knowing that Hop Meadow sits on land that was once home to the farm where Senator (and Connecticut’s 59th Governor) George McLean grew up.

But back to exercise. Nature lovers, walkers, hikers, joggers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers will love making the (very) short drive to the 4,115-acre McLean Game Refuge, a wildlife sanctuary set on land donated in 1932 by Senator McLean, who was also an ardent conservationist.

With its cold-water streams, trap rock ridges, open meadows and a uniquely diverse array of forest types comprising more than 60 tree species, the McLean Game Refuge is truly a resource no other community shares. Throughout the year, more than 100 bird species may breed or migrate through the refuge, including the northern harrier and American kestrel. Dozens of mammals make their homes at the refuge as well, including black bears, fish, deer and coyotes. Thanks to the abundance of kettle ponds and bogs, marshy wetlands, flood plain forests, ponds, streams and vernal pools, the forests of the refuge provide habitat to a wealth of reptile, amphibian and fish species. And, of course, we can’t forget the thousands of people who visit the refuge annually.

“For the most part, this is a dream job,” Connor Hogan, Director of the McLean Game Refuge, says. “I love being in this part of Connecticut. I never thought of this state as having notable wild spaces, but I’m endlessly surprised by what I’ve found here.”

Since joining McLean, Hogan has taken great strides to further integrate the Game Refuge into the Life Plan Community, offering guided hikes and on-campus seminars (including virtual webinars during the heart of the pandemic). Plans to continue programming are always evolving.

According to Hogan, that’s just the start of deepening the relationship between the two related organizations. “On a more practical level, we’re looking to increase programming at the Game Refuge for residents at McLean. In the meantime, I’ll be speaking on campus more regularly. We’re hoping to have more regular presentations on campus for people who want to know about the refuge but aren’t quite ready to go out and explore it on their own.”

Another thing Hogan and his team are doing to tighten the bond with McLean residents is to show them what awaits at the refuge. “One of our forest rangers is an excellent photographer. He sees wildlife in a way most people could never imagine. His photos are now decorating the walls at McLean, which is helping raise resident awareness. What we need to do is have a regular visitation regime for people so they can come and see what we’re doing.”

Whether it’s playing golf, tennis, or pickleball, swimming at Hop Meadow Country Club, walking our spacious campus or any of a number of activities available in the natural beauty of the McLean Game Refuge, life at McLean offers an abundance of outdoor activities that will help you stay active, occupied and on the go. This is just part of what makes life at McLean alluring to so many.

If you’d like to learn more about life at McLean and all it has to offer, call (860) 658-3786 to arrange a personal tour.

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