The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection invites you to " Drop In And Discover" your state parks and forests. Following are nine state parks and forests selected not only for their fall foliage, but also for providing viewing towers or lookouts. Spectacular views can also be found at the Goodwin Conservation Center, listed below. Come to these selected parks and forests, view the surrounding countryside, and hike to discover the beauty of New England. Here are just a few of Connecticut’s best scenic viewing areas:
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection invites you to " Drop In And Discover" your state parks and forests.
Following are nine state parks and forests selected not only for their fall foliage, but also for providing viewing towers or lookouts. Spectacular views can also be found at the Goodwin Conservation Center, listed below.
Come to these selected parks and forests, view the surrounding countryside, and hike to discover the beauty of New England. Here are just a few of Connecticut’s best scenic viewing areas:
Office and parking lot are located 1 mile inside the park. Trail maps are available. Take white blazed Cobble Mountain Trail. The overlook has views across the Harlem Valley to the Taconic and Catskill Mountains.
Scenic vistas to the north and west include the Catskill, Taconic and Berkshire ranges. For your hiking pleasure both the Mattatuck and Mohawk trails (blue blazed) cross the site.
Take woods access road on left to overlook.
This forest also contains miles of roads and hiking trails.
Take trail (yellow blazes) to two lookouts.
For your hiking enjoyment, Shenipsit Trail (blue blazed) runs by the tower. The observation tower on Soapstone Mountain provides wonderful views of the surrounding and distant landscapes.
From entrance lot, take gravel path (1.5 miles) to Stone Tower. From the tower you have a 360 degree panorama looking south to Long Island and north past Hartford. For additional hiking, Sleeping Giant has 30 miles of trails that form the giants ‘head’ to his ‘left knee’ and ‘right foot.’
Park along the road near the trailhead. Hike to ridge, then left to the restored Heublein tower. View from tower is over the Farmington River Valley.
Another nearby alternative is located at Penwood State Park (entrance is on left 500 feet east from Talcott Mountain entrance). From the parking lot, a hike up the gated road loops to an escarpment overlook.
The drive to the summit is open weekends only from October 4 through October 26.
View autumn colors reflected in the water of Pine Acres Pond from the wildlife-watching platform (wheelchair accessible). You can also walk through the canopy along one section of the Air Line Trail in the Goodwin State Forest.
A Little Something Different - Connecticut’s Shoreline
Are you tired of battling the hordes of leaf-peepers heading north this time of year? Why not head to the coast instead to look for colorful foliage of a more unusual nature? Many locations along the Connecticut shore offer fascinating vistas during the fall, including almost all of the coastal state parks, wildlife management areas and other open space sites described in DEEP's Connecticut Coastal Access Guide.
A prime example is Long Beach in Stratford. Sandwiched between Long Island Sound and the Great Meadows tidal wetlands, Long Beach is one of the longest barrier beaches in Connecticut--a little over a mile long. A visit here is a chance to walk along the shore, explore the dunes and appreciate the sheltered tidal wetlands. Though many of the colors may be a bit subdued, there is a sophistication in the warm buff of the dune grasses and the greens and gold's of the tidal wetlands. If brighter colors are more to your liking, few northern maples can match the brilliant red of the dense mats of low-growing glasswort in the wetlands. The bright blues of a sunny sky reflected off the tidal creeks double the enjoyment.
Although most of our summer shorebirds are long gone, a visit in October also brings the chance to glimpse migrating birds that have spent their summer further north. Shorebirds (including semipalmated sandpiper, black-bellied plover, ruddy turnstone, sanderling, and greater and lesser yellowlegs), waterfowl (including mallard, black duck, and merganser), hawks, and other migrants often can be spotted here. So bring your binoculars and your bird books.
Off-season, the parking is free, but make sure you dress appropriately, as the "sea breeze" can be chilly. Fishing is permitted. If you intend to visit during hunting season, proper precautions, including wearing hunter’s orange, should be taken as hunting is allowed in the Great Meadows salt marsh.
To get to Long Beach, take Exit 30 off I-95 and follow the signs to Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Enjoy the drive through the Great Meadows salt marsh, passing the airport on the left. At the next stop sign, turn right onto Oak Bluff Avenue. At the foot of Oak Bluff Avenue, enter the beach access and parking area. The beach is easily accessible from any of the parking spaces, but the easiest access for viewing the tidal wetlands is from the far western end of the parking area. So leave the leaves behind this fall, and check out Long Beach in Stratford.
Other Viewing Suggestions - Hike or Bike on one of Connecticut's Multi-use Trails
Try one of the many bikeways throughout the state to take in the wonderful colors of fall. These multi-use trails present a great way for outdoor enthusiasts, whether they are bikers, hikers or walkers, to experience autumn's show. Located throughout Connecticut, the trails bring visitors along our lakes, streams, rivers, ridgelines, and forests where they can quietly enjoy nature at their own pace.
For more information on Connecticut's multi-use trails, including locations, maps, and directions, visit the Connecticut Department of Transportation website. "Pathways Through Connecticut" - Connecticut's Multi-use Trail Book and many other publications are also available for purchase at the DEEP Store.
Content last updated September 5, 2013