Connecticut's parks, nature centers, arboretums offer great walking trails
From riversides to hill country to the seaside on Long Island sound, Connecticut has many wonderful places for walking and hiking. City walks can take you into the historic corners of New Haven and Hartford and the dining and shopping corner known as SoNo in South Norwalk.
are abundant in city parks and in rural areas. The state parks
alone could provide a lifetime of great hikes for kids, adults, older people, in all seasons of the year.
Center at Pomfret (Audubon Bird Conservation area)
218 Day Road
Pomfret Center, CT
Maintained by the Connecticut Audubon Society. Designated trails run throughout the property. The Audobon Society hosts frequent guided birdwalks and workshops on gardening and area wildlife. The Center at Pomfret manages the 168-acre Trail Wood Sanctuary. See Santuary Map on Center's website
Hours: Trail Wood Sanctuary, year-round, daily, dawn to dusk
entrances off Hosley Avenue
Lake Saltonstall is home is many species of birds and forest animals. Here you can hike, jog, or bicycle along nine miles of trails, and learn about local wildlife on a one and one-half -mile interpretive nature trail. There is good freshwater fishing in the lake, which is stocked. A wheelchair accessible floating pier is located on site.
There are several named and marked walking trails, of various degrees of ease or difficulty. The Lake Saltonstall Trail is a loop trail and it is perfect for jogging, hiking, bicycling, or cross-country skiing. The inland trail weaves through spruce and pine groves and has spring wildflowers. The Ridge Trail is a dead-end trail that runs along the top of the Saltonstall Ridge, offering scenic views. The Vista Trail provides an overlook to the west. Lake Saltonstall trail map.
A fish shack is located just off Hosley Avenue. Twenty-five row boats are available for rent. The shack is staffed during fishing season.
Permitted Uses: This site requires a Regional Water Authority permit.
No motored vehicles. Hiking and bicycling only. Bicycling is permitted from April 15 to December 31. Shore and Lake fishing is allowed by state permit. Wading and swimming are prohibited. Dogs are not permitted.
Directions and Parking: Lake Saltonstall can be accessed via I-95 - Exit 52 to Route 1 There are two gated entrances off Hosley Avenue.
This pristine, wooded refuge sits on 66 acres and offers prime observation areas for both birds and animals. Hiking trails wend their way through almost the entire site.
Flanders Nature Center
Flanders Nature Center has access to many walking and hiking trails on the Van Vleck Farm and Nature Sanctuary and the Whittemore Sanctuary. Trails are used for birding watching, nature photography, and in the winter cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Some trail names are “Wildlife Vegetation Trail,” “Farm Trail,” “Wilderness Trail,” “Botany Trail,” and “Old Orchard Trail.” Trails at the Whittemore Sanctuary offer views of natural vistas. Trails open from sunrise to sunset. Trail maps are available at the Welcome Center at the Van Vleck Farm Sanctuary at the corner of Church Hill and Flanders Roads in Woodbury.Trail maps.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Mountain Laurel Sanctuary in Nipmuck State Forest
Near intersection of routes 89 and 190
Leisurely walking trails wind through the mountain laurel, Connecticut's official state flower. Viewing is best in June and July, when the laurel are in bloom.
The sanctuary entrance is a short distance from the intersection of routes 89 and 190 and is well marked. Pets must be leashed.
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset.
123 Mad River Road
This park is home to the beginning of the Mattuck Trail
, a 35-mile hike that wends its way up to Mohawk Mountain, in the Litchfield Hills. Peterson Park offers basketball, tennis, volleyball, roller blading, skate park, play areas, and paved walking trails. There is a large picnic grove with many tables and two pavilions.
Moosup Valley State Park Trail
This trail runs for 6 miles along the bed of an old railroad. The surface is ballast, crushed stone, dirt, grass, gravel, and sand. It is used by walkers, bicyclists, and cross country skiers. Much of the trail follows the Moosup River into Rhode Island. The trail begins with a large, re-decked trestle bridge and lateer it becomes more rural and wooded. Views of a quarry.
The Tunxis Trail, in north-central Connecticut, is part of the blue-blaze trail system, composed of 22 trails in four sections. The Northern Trail is 22 miles long, from the Massachusetts border through Tunxis State Forest. Nepaug region trail is 7.2 miles long, through New Hartford, over Garret Mountain and through Nepaug and Burlington. The Burlington region trail is a network west of Burlington. The Southington region 14 miles of trails crossing Southington, Compounce, and South Mountains. These trails are maintained by volunteers and are among the most popular Connecticut trails for walkers of all abilities.
Best resource for trail maps and trail access is the Connecticut Walk Book (West). You can purchase the book from Connecticut Forest and Park Association's online bookstore
, some local bookstores or some local libraries. Information: www.ctwoodlands.org/trails
off of Route 6 at 23 Potter Road
Great for hiking on short or long trails; enjoying nature; a boat ramp is available
This state forest has a very extensive trail system for walking, bicycling, horseback riding, and enjoying nature. Trail range from short and easy to long. Some have printed brochures with information on the plant life of the area.
See full description
of James L. Goodwin Forest.
325 Cornwall Bridge Road / Route 4
Sharon, CT, 06069
Nature trails meander through gardens, woods and around ponds. Watch for a wide variety of plants, birds, bobcats, beavers, river otters, and deer. Many migratory birds use the property as a lay-over point. The Visitor Center houses the Nature Store, Natural History Museum, and Exhibit Room with live animals and displays and a Children's Adventure Center. Gift shop and book store.
Hours: The Visitors Center and Nature Store are open year round, Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The building is closed on all major holidays.
Admission: Trails and most programs are $3 for adults; $1.50 for seniors; $1.50 for children
This rustic, rural park is the perfect place for fishing, along with biking, hiking, walking, and cross-country skiing on numerous trails. Hiking map.
Hours: The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Season is the Saturday in April through Columbus Day weekend. Winter parking is available.
Mattatuck’s many parcels cross several town borders and offer many outdoor and forest experiences for hiking, mountain biking, letterboxing, and hunting. Various trails lead hikers past interesting topography to excellent overlooks. Hunters, in season, make use of the forest for its wide variety of wildlife.
From the intersections of Route 262 and Route 6 in Plymouth, drive south on Route 262 for three and a half miles and park in the unmarked pull-off on the right. The trail descends to the south at first; joins the blue blazed main trail; turns west; follow to the summit.
From Routes 262 and 6 in Plymouth drive south on Route 262 for five miles to the trail head. There is no parking at the trailhead; park at the bottom of the hill and walk back up to the trail head. Enter the woods at the barred gate; cross the bridge; hike to the summit. Trail map.
Sweet riverside park for water sports and picnicking. Easy walking trails along the river.
This park along the Houstonic River has mapped walking trails through beautiful woods. Park map
See full description
of Indian Well State Park
Route 272 to Campbell Falls Road
Campbell Falls State Park is a natural area with no facilities. Visitors enjoy the easy hike to a beautiful, small waterfall on Ginger Creek. Sweet spot for picnicking.
Tomlinson & Laurel Ridge roads
This 209-acre park is managed by the town of Seymour, The land has wild woods with extensive hiking trails. Wonderful views of Housatonic River and valley can be seen from park trails. The park also is noted for its limestone caves.
Heulbein Tower is popular for hiking, picnicking
The Tower Trail is one-and-a-quarter miles long, and will lead you on a 30-40 minute walk to Heublein Towerand breathtaking views of the landscape, including Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire and the mountains of the Berkshires in Massachusetts. A section of the Metacomet Trail also intersects the park. See Talcott Mountain State Park
for full description of this park.
This coastal reserved offers beautiful walks through a wooded peninsula and along a rocky coastline. The 4-mile loop trail to the bluff passes along the Poquonock River and through wooded and open areas until opening entirely onto the Sound. Fun for bird watching. Park map.
The Nature Conservancy maintains this two-mile trail, which is an old farm road, through former farm property. It is now mainly a forest of oaks, The Route passes a beaver pond and returns by way of Old Kings Highway, a grass-covered walk. Also a good site for cross-country skiing and bird watching.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
80 Whitehall Road (off Route 202)
This wildlife sanctuary and museum is on 4,000 acres of many habitats and 35 miles of trails. The Little Pond trail is a one-mile wooden boardwalk through wetland areas and around a pond. History buffs will enjoy the ruins of an old ice house off Bantam Lake. Bring your smart phone to access via QR code the oral and pictorial history of the ruins. Programs for adults and kids are varied, and include guided walks. There is a gift shop.
Open: Grounds open year-round, daily. Museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Closed major holidays
462 Kent Cornwall Road (Route 7)
Cascading waterfall, covered bridge, hiking trails. Great for picnics, walking
this beautiful parrk focuses on waterfalls descending to the Housatonic River. There are many mapped trails all around the drainage area of the streams joining the waterfalls.
See full description
of Kent Falls State Park
Grove Street Cemetery
A beautiful, peaceful, and historic walk in an older city can usually be found at a garden cemetery. Grove Street Cemetery
in New Haven, surrounded by regal Yale University, sits behind a stone wall and iron fence along Grove and Prospect streets. The cemetery, which has been called the Westminster of Yale, contains the graves of Yale luminaries, like Eli Whitney and Noah Webster. The cemetery was established in 1797; it beauty if enhanced by the architectural gem of an Egyptian Revival-style gateway entrance on High Street.
Route 41 three miles north of Salisbury
Bear Mountain in Salisbury has the tallest point in Connecticut at 2,316 feet. There are several trails to the top, and all are categorized as strenuous. One trail to Bear Mountain is the Undermountain Trail, which you can get onto about three miles north of Salisbury off of Route 41. (A a dirt parking lot on the left hand side may be obscured by bushes in summer.) Undermountain Trail rises straight up for two miles and then meets the Appalachian Trial. When you reach the large wooden trail sign as Undermountain and Appalachian Trails meet, turn right onto the Appalachian Trail. Walks another mile to the top of Bear Mountain; there is a short, steep rise the last few 100 yards. Length: 5-6 miles round trip.
147 Wolf Den Drive
Pomfret Center, CT
Good park for camping, swimming, boating, hiking; cool rock formations to explore
There is plenty of hiking in the woods at this popular state park.
See full description
of Mashamoquet State Park.
999 W Main Street
Hubbard Park has 1,800 acres of parkland that includes woodland, lake and stream, flower gardens, and picnic areas, and Mirror Lake.
Activities: Hiking and biking. Fishing allowed in Mirror Lake for youth age 15 and younger. Picnic tables are available. Swimming, rock climbing, and boating are prohibited.
Directions and Parking: Take I-91 South to I-691 West to the exit for Southington/Route 322. At the exit off ramp, turn left onto West Main Street. Hubbard Park is a mile down the road on the left. Parking is at the park at the start of the trail head adjacent to Mirror Lake.
Trails. Many trails are available. Total length is 15 miles. Blue Trail (Metacomet Trail) is 7.27 miles, easy to difficult. Red Trail is 1 mile. Yellow Trail is one-third of a mile White Trail is 2 miles. Orange Trail is one-half mile. All trails are rated easy to difficult.
Trail map of Hubbard Park
Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center
10 Deerfield Lane
Ansonia, CT, 06401
This park has two and one-half miles of nature trails. The land encompasses 104 acres of wooded hills and grassy fields bisected by streams, a two acre pond, wet meadows, and an upland swamp. The site provides habitat for many species of New England plants and animals.
Hours: Daily sunup to sundown; interpretive center open 9 a.m. t o 5 p.m. daily except on major holidays.
178 Shortwoods Road
New Fairfield, CT, 06810
Pond is centerpiece of wooded park with beach, swimming, boating, hiking trails, ice skating, cross country skiing
There are plenty of nice, wooded, and well-mapped hiking paths in the woods and hills about the lake at this park for walkers and hiker of all abilities. Hiking map.
See full description
of Squanz State Park
Saugatuck Reservoir Trails
Saugatuck Reservoir is part of a big land preserve in southwestern Connecticut. It is surrounded by 65 miles of hiking trails wending through Redding, Easton, and Weston through woodlands and fields, along shorelines, up rocky mountain sides with great views, and along interesting wetlands. These trails are part of the blue-blazed trail system managed by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. To hike here, you must contact Aquarion Water Company and ask for a free map of the trail system, which serves as your hiking permit. Contact www.aquarion.com or call 203-452-3511.
Directions: Get onto the trail at the parking lot at the corner of Route 53 and Valley Forge Road, which is 3.5 miles north of Weston Center. To access the trail, walk down the hill on Valley Forge Road for 0.15 miles. The trailheads will be on the left to head north or the right to head south.
76 Lake Drive
The Indian Rock Shelters trail offers an unusual opportunity to visit the natural rock shelter home sites of early Native Americans. As you walk you can see excellent views of a rock ledge parallel on the other side of a low area. The forest HAS beech, maples, oaks, birches, white ash and hickory. The trail is a loop. Distance is one mile. Walking time is about an hour
Permitted activities: Only hiking is allowed. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed.
Parking: Trailhead on Lake Drive. Indian Rock Shelters trail map.
Walking Tours of Art at Yale University
The campus of Yale University in the city of New Haven is rich with public art and interesting architecture. Yale and the city want visitors to find and enjoy these gems among the bustle of everyday life. A very helpful map and self-guided walking tour (PDF)
of art on the Yale campus is available, with explanations and directions to public works by Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. Also, the Yale Visitor Center at 149 Elm Street leads free group walking tours of public art at Yale by request; call the Visitor Center a week before the requested date.
Similarly, the city offers a awalking tour of New Haven architecture (PDF)
, which includes part of the Yale campus, along with Science Hill and the Yale Medical Center. The tour visits buildings by Louis I. Kahn, Paul Rudolph, Cesar Pelli, and Eero Saarinen. On the tour, you can soak in a wide range of architectural styles and see how those styles mesh to create a distinctive city.
Large forested park with lots of hiking trails; water sports at one lake and 3 ponds
This 9,000-acre combine state park and state forest have an extensive trail system, with marked trails from Bigelow Hollow to the Breakneck area for a distance of six miles. Trails west of the park road both form loops and are shorter than trails to Breakneck. The trail system is maintained by a href="http://www.ctwoodlands.org/" target="_blank"> Connecticut Forest and Park Association. The trails are usable for cross country skiing and snowmobiling when there is snow cover.
See full description
of Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck State Forest.
Rock Spring Wildlife Refuge / Preserve
Pudding Hill Road (Route 97) three miles south of Route 6
The three-mile loop trail has options for shorter hikes leading through mature oak forest, open fields, and along Little River on this 450-acre property. Trails lead past glacial kettle ponds to an overlook of the Little River Valley. Used for hiking, cross country skiing, bird watching. Rock Spring preserve and parking area are on the right, just north of the James V. Spignesi Jr. Wildlife Management Area.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and Farmington River Trail
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
stretches from New Haven to the Massachusetts border before continuing into Massachusetts for a total length of 80.5 miles, passing through and 13 towns. The trail, for walkers and bicyclists, runs along abandoned rail corridors and canal tow paths. The Farming River Trail
is an 18.2-mile loop trail that connects to the Heritage Trail at location in Farmington and Simsbury. It touches on the towns of Unionville, Collinsville, Burlington, and Canton. Much of the trail hugs the banks of the Farmington River.
Online trail maps
provided by the Farmington Valley Trails Council show the full trail and its various segments, with helpful information on parking and other needs.
New Canaan Nature Center
144 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT, 06840
Take a fascinating look into the science and nature in the area. Set on 40 acres, the nature center features gardens and a solar-heated greenhouse, as well as many trails, exhibits, an arboretum, live animals, and a maple sugar shed.
Hours: Grounds open dawn to dusk daily; buildings and officer open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Donation requested.
613 Riversville Road
This full-service nature center with lots of exhibits and activities also offers 7 miles of walking trails. See full description
of Audubon Center of Greenwich.
Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield -- Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary
2325 Burr Street
The Larsen Sanctuary is next to the Audubon Center at Fairfield. The land has streams, ponds, forest, fields, and seven miles of trails and boardwalks with information signs. There is a wheelchair-accessible trail call the Chiboucas Trail. A brochure and trail map are available at the Center. There is an admission fee except for Audubon members and Fairfield residents.
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Set on 146 acres, the nature center has numerous walking and hiking trails. The area offers great opportunities for birdwatching and observation of geology. Regular walks and programs are scheduled throughout the year. Gift shop on the premises.
Located on 149 acres of state-protected land, the Woodcock Nature Preserve includes a pond, wetlands and three miles of trails through woods. The center keeps many living local and exotic creatures including snakes, frogs and lizards. A few injured birds of prey live at the center. Trail map.
Hours: Monday-Friday and most Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; summers, Monday-Friday only. The trails are open daily from dawn to dusk.
487 North Brooksvale Road (Route 42)
Cheshire, CT, 06410
Walk along this historical park’s 2.9-mile hiking and biking trail, then enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors. Grounds are open year-round. Be sure to explore the restored Canal.
Quinebaug River Trail
This four-mile trail winds along two rivers. It is paved and is used by walkers, bicyclists, and cross country skiers. The Quinebaug River Trail has two segments. The southern segment follows the Quinebaug River in Danielson, beginning at Palmer Street and Prospect Avenue, crossing a bridge over Fivemile Pond, then heading south along the east bank of the river to Gloria Avenue. The northern segment runs between the Holiday Inn just west of the Attawaugan Crossing/Ballouville Exit off I-395 and Park Road in Putnam. The segment parallels Tracy and Park roads.
Oregon Road and River Road
South Meriden, CT, 06451
The paved, multi-use Quinnipiac Gorge Trail starts at Lions Club Park. The trail follows a former rail bed westward along the Gorge with several beautiful views of the Quinnipiac River. Walking, bicycling, roller blades, wheelchairs welcome. Rating is Easy. Distance: 1.3 miles.
Permitted Activities: The trail is handicap accessible. Hiking and canoeing are permitted. Fishing is allowed with a state license. Motor vehicles prohibited.
Directions and Parking: Access is off River Road (CT Route 70). Handicap accessible parking is on Oregon Road. General parking is at the Dossin Beach near Hanover Pond. More parking is on Finch Avenue at the Cheshire town border.
Town of Meriden: 203-630-4259. Map of Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail.
State Route 272
At the summit of this 1,716 foot peak is a 34 foot high tower. A half-mile trail leads visitors from the parking lot to the tower, from which Long Island Sound, the Berkshires and New York State can be seen.
Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary
314 Unquowa Road
Fairfield, CT, 06824
Historic museum highlights natural history of the state with dioramas, wildlife exhibits, and dinosaur footprints. Adjacent 6-acre sanctuary with trails.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The six-acre Birdcraft Sanctuary is open daily, year-round, from dawn to dusk.
366 Hopyard Road
East Haddam, CT
Popular hiking and camping area with scenic picnic spots and fresh-water fishing.
The red and white nature trail is about a quarter-mile long and offers wildlife viewing opportunities. Including this one, there are some shorter trails surrounding a small pond in the park’s southern region. Explore scenic views along the Yellow Witch Hazel and Orange Vista Trails. See full description
of Devil's Hopyard State Park.
New Haven, CT
Lovely urban park; good for strolling, tennis, skateboarding, bird watching, relaxation
Lovely city park has many winding paths for strolling among plantings and ponds, watching bird life, and enjoying a restful urban atmosphere. See full description
of Edgewood Park.
Small park near UConn; nice for quiet walks and picnicking near brook and waterfall
Nice walks along a brook to a lovely waterfall are found at this small public park, only a short distance from the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
See full description
of Shelter Falls Park.
Perched aside a wooded section of the Connecticut River, Essex
is the quintessential New England riverside town of historic clapboard buildings and tree-lined streets. Its three village centers have fine examples of Colonial and Federal architecture. A walk through town would start at the Essex town dock at the end of Main Street and then proceed up Main Street, passing the Connecticut River Museum and Griswold Inn. Where Main Street splits, turn left onto North Main and walk toward the Riverview Cemetery. Continuing, take a left on Grove Street and a left on Prospect Street to loop back to your starting point.
Mattabesett Trail -- Route 77 to Route 17
Route 77 and Fire Tower Road (north of Bluff Head Cemetery)
Guilford, CT, 06437
This five-mile-long and moderately difficult trail is part of the 220-mile New England Trail. Start your walk at the Bluff Head trail head parking area on Route 77 near Bluff Head Cemetery. This route is part of the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System. Bluff Head has wonderful southward views to Long Island Sound and north to the Coginchaug Valley. The trail is rocky and has some inclines.
Hours: Dawn to dusk
67 River Road, off Route 82
East Haddam, CT, 06423
Park offers riverside walks; fishing; picnicking; tours of unusual 1919 mansion
Short, steep, and sweet hikes abound on this property, the former home of a famous stage actor of the early 20th century. Many picnic spots overlook the beautiful Connecticut River far below the top the hill, where a fanciful castle was the home of William Gillette.
See full description
of Gilltte Castle State Park and Mansion
Oak Grove Nature Center
Oak Grove Street
This 52-acre nature preserve and nature center is operated by the nearby Lutz Children's Museum. The property has a pond, a covered bridge, and two easy walking trails totaling about 3 miles of walking distance on dirt paths.
Hours: Trails are open dawn to dusk. Center open for museum activities and by arrangement.
Bull's Covered Bridge River Walk
Bull's Bridge Road
A scenic part of the Appalachian Trail. Hikers can enjoy the Bull's Bridge Scenic Trail loop, featuring views of waterfalls and gorges down below on the Housatonic River. The covered bridge was built in 1842. The trail follows the Housatonic River to Ten Mile River Gorge, and then up to the top of Ten Mile Hill.
Directions: At the intersection of routes 341 and 7 in Kent, follow Route 7 south for three miles; turn right onto Bull's Bridge Road; cross the first bridge; go through the covered bridge; cross a third bridge, and park on the left White blazes mark the entrance to the Appalachian Trail. The entrance to Bull's Bridge Scenic Loop is between the covered bridge and the first parking area and is not blazed. Moderate difficulty.
384 Burr Mountain Road
Pond has beach for swimming, canoe & kayak rentals, trails around the shoreline
As easy walking trail hugs the shoreline of this pretty pond, with a sandy beach and boating.
See full description
of Burr Pond State Park
H.C. Barnes Nature Center
175 Shrub Road
This nature center features a variety of self-guiding trails, as well as interpretive exhibits and a nature library. The 70 acre sanctuary is home to a variety of species.
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 2-5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Begins the Town Green, 10 Park Street
This walking tour of this lovely Litchfield town begins at the Town Green and proceeds to the town's Burying Ground, where the oldest gravestone dates to 1749. Soldiers from
the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War,
and the War of 1812 are buried here. The Soldiers Monument commemorates
Abraham Lincoln and 38 men from
Plymouth who died in The Civil War.
Other New England edifices include the Congregational Church, several historic homes, the Gothic Revival Baptist Church, a post office, and The Quiet, a historic inn. The walk is about a half mile long.
Between Center Hill Road (Route 181) and East River Road [see map]
Large forests offer all outdoor recreation: camping, water sports, extensive hiking trails
These two adjacent state forests have extensive hiking trails, from easy to difficult. they include:
Henry Buck Trail
(blue blazed; 0.3 mile; overlook from high cliffs); Turkey Vultures Ledges Trail
(blue; easy hike to scenic views; 0.4 mile); Agnes Bowen Trail
(orange; a ski trail from the 1930; 2.5 miles); Charles Pack Trail
(yellow; 1.9 miles); Elliot Bronson Trail
(red; a rugged climb over Ragged Mountain; 1.5 miles);
Jessie Gerard Trail
(yellow; passes an old Indian settlement, a lighthouse, 299 stone steps; some of the best views in the state; Robert Ross Trail
(blue; 2 miles); Walt Landgraf
(red; leads to an area of rock ledges known as the Indian Caves; 0.2 miles).
for American Legion and Peoples State Forests.
See full description
of American Legion and Peoples State forests
Route 185, Simsbury Road
Most of this 800-acre park’s hiking trails begin and end at the main picnic site. Trails are color-coded loops, with the exception of the Nature Trail, which encircles Lake Louise and passes by the scenic pinnacle overlook. Year-round chances to see wildlife such as birds and wildflowers.
Palmer Neck Road
This wildlife management area displays the varied and beauty of coastal Connecticut. It has four miles of trails for walking and hiking, through forest and tidal marshes, with great views of birds and waterfowl. Watch for a rare New England cottontail rabbit. Hikers should be aware of the presence of deer hunters in hunting season.
See full description
of Barn Island Wildlife Management Area.
Water sports in the lake; hiking to tower at mountain top
In addition to water sports, this park is popular for hikes to the lookout tower on Mount Tom, which looms above the lake. The summit is 1325 feet above sea level, and the trail to the tower is less than one mile long and rises 500 feet.
See full description
of Mount Tom State Park.
151 Brookdale Road
This large property offers nature viewing and education, along with lots of marked walking trails. Guided tours during warm seasons visit the Cottage, Perennial & Sundial Gardens; Red Maple Wetlands & Wildflower Meadow; Fall Wildflower & Tree Identification; and Champion & Notable Tree Collection.
See full description
of Barlette Arboretum.
Mansfield Grove Road
East Haven, CT
This is one of Connecticut’s newer and lesser known state parks – 61 acres along the west bank of the Farm River as it flows into Long Island Sound. Taking its headwaters to the northeast, the Farm River flows 16.5 miles on its way past the Park where visitors enjoy the sun, sights and salt air of Long Island Sound. There are several walking trails here, and they will take you across bluffs or along marshland to some lovely seaside views. Park map.
Mine Hill Preserve
Mine Hill Road
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the preserve is set on a former iron ore mine and blast furnace. Granite quarries on the property provided stones used in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central Station in New York City. A looping trail of under 4 miles will take hikers along the Donkey Trail (where donkeys used to pull ore wagons), past mine shafts and tunnels, and old mine and furnace foundations. Side trails will take hikers to the granite quarries.
244 West Main Street (Route 156)
East Lyme, CT
Bordered on the west by a tidal river and to the east by a broad salt marsh, Rocky Neck is popular for swimming, sunning, camping, picnicking and hiking. People who love to walk and hike will find many trails in the Rocky Neck network, and you may wish to combine a couple for your out-and-back. Nearer the shoreline, look for Look for ospreys, cranes, and herons or other waterfowl. Park map.
Roaring Brook Nature Center
70 Gracey Road
This nature center features walking trails, live animals and an Indian longhouse. The Nature Center uses the 100-acre Werner farm property and woods, and maintains its hiking trails, bluebird boxes, and wildlife habitats. The trails are used hiking, cross-country skiing, and passive enjoyment of the outdoors. A self-guiding trail guide, and trail maps
may be purchased at the nature store.
Hours: Walking trails are open dawn until dusk.
10 Woodside Lane
Natural history museum with exhibits for children, live animals, trails, playground and a gift shop are all part of this wildlife sanctuary. This 62-acre property has several easy trails, including a universal access trail that can be used by people in wheelchairs or using walkers. It is an old farm and still shows evidence of stone walls, open fields, and wagon roads through the woods. Dogs are not permitted on the trails.
Admission: Adults and children older than 12, $7; children and seniors, $5. Grounds and outdoor bird enclosures free.
Hours: Open: Year-round, daily except major holidays
Newman-Woodward Trail (20 minutes) winds through an oak and beech forest with high leaf canopy and silvery trunks.
Wadsworth Trail (15 minutes) follows a wetlands. Many amphibians live in the standing water in spring. Good trail to see ferns and wildflowers.
Universal Design Nature Trail is accessible to people wheelchairs or using walkers. The trail winds through an open meadow where native grasses and abundant birdlife can be found.
High Woods Trail (20 minutes) travels through open fields and mixed hardwood forests. Good location for watching hawks in the fall.
Eloise A. Ray Trail (20 minutes) is an old farmstead now covered with locust trees and shrubs. Good trail for bird watching.
Swamp Loop Trail (30 minutes) is the best for viewing spring and summer wildflowers. The trail winds past a swamp, a freshwater stream, a pond, and woodlands. Watch letterboxes along the trail.
Niantic Bay Boardwalk
Near McCook Point Park, 8 Atlantic Avenue
The Niantic Bay Boardwalk, rebuilt in 2016, provides a 1-mile promenade along Niantic bay, with stunning views of Long Island Sound, lapping waves, and the whoosh of trains passing on nearby tracks.
33 Pent Road
This is the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Connecticut. It protects part of the watershed of the Saugatuck River. The property includes woodlands, wetlands and rock ledges and a series of north-south ridges and valleys woven with streams and swamps. Good place for hiking and bird watching.
Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area
Visitors to this natural preserve are treated to a beaver marsh, an observation tower, and a waterfall. Walking and hiking trails feature information signs and demonstrations of wildlife management practices.
Hours: Year-round, dawn to dusk.
Mianus River Preserve & Park / Cary Road Nature Preserve / Mianus Pond
Greenwich/Stamford border, CT
This preserve begins 1,000 feet north of the Post Road on the eastern side of Mianus Pond. It is a haven for hikers, with undisturbed woods and a steep shoreline and lovely views. Foot access is from the northern ends of Westview Place and Cary Road.
To get there: Take U.S. 1 toward Stamford; after leaving Cos Cob and crossing the Mianus Bridge turn left onto Cary Road. Mianus Park is on Cary Road.
Hours: Year-round, daily, daylight hours.