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29. Happy Trails

Connecticut has 137 state parks and forests, 800 miles of hiking trails, and 230 lakes and ponds. It's no time to sit still. Pamper your mind and spirit by spending the weekend enjoying gentle and moderate hikes at state parks and other recreational areas throughout the state. If your getaway includes kids, check out No Child Left Inside (www.nochildleftinside.org), a nature-oriented program from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. With the goal of reconnecting children with the outdoors, the initiative includes summer contests for families at state parks, periodic special events, and the opportunity for residents to visit state parks free (borrow the DEP parks pass from your local library).

Happy Trails
Connection Types: Active Adventures
Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
Driving Tip: *

Ridgefield

Start your adventure in Wilton. Hike through Devil’s Den Preserve, home to 500 types of trees and wildflowers, about 140 bird species, and ridges and valleys laced with streams and swamps.

Stop for lunch and shopping in Ridgefield, en route to Cornwall via Route 7.

Mohawk State Forest

In Cornwall, hike through the  Mohawk State Forest. The wildlife haven contains 30 miles of trails through open fields, forests, and up mountains, panoramic vistas from lookout towers, and a black spruce bog.

Stay at one of several area country inns, bed and breakfasts, or motels.

Talcott Mountain

The next morning, head east on Route 44 toward   Talcott Mountain in Bloomfield. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of spots to enjoy a hearty breakfast, including The Log House Restaurant in Barkhamsted.

In Bloomfield, walk the 1.25-mile-long Tower Trail to the top of  Talcott Mountain. At the peak, you can tour Heublein Tower (built in 1914 as a summer home for Gilbert Heublein, whose guests included Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and actor Ronald Reagan). From this perch, you’ll see the Berkshires, Long Island Sound, and Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.

Lyman Orchards

Drive to Middletown. Enjoy a meal at It’s Only Natural (an award-winning vegetarian/vegan/macrobiotic restaurant) and  stroll across the Wesleyan University campus (famous alums include U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and NFL coach Bill Belichick).Climb Mount Higby in Middlefield (some cliff walking involved) for top-notch views.

Stop for fresh fruits and vegetables (along with cheese, cider, pie and other items) at  Lyman Orchards in Middlefield.