Hiking (and Biking) with a View Last Updated: May 2021
Sometimes the hike is its own reward. Other times, there’s nothing like reaching the summit of a great hike and being greeted with an amazing vista. As activities will look a little different right now, outdoor recreation is a great way to safely enjoy the season. Here are some spots where you’ll find spectacular high points you can reach easily by hiking (or in some cases, mountain biking) Connecticut’s trails.
Experience the View from the Top
The highest hiking trail in Connecticut can be found at Mt. Frissell in northwest corner of Connecticut. Although the summit itself is not within Connecticut but Massachusetts, this trail climbs to 2,380 feet above sea level and offers stunning views.
The overlook at the top of Jones Mountain Preserve in New Hartford, simply known as the "bare spot," gives hikers a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and hills along the banks of the West Branch of the Farmington River. To get there: Take Route 44 to Route 219 or Town Hill Road. Take a left on Steele Road and look for a parking area on left after passing Burdick Road.
Climb Back in Time
Simbsury’s Heublein Tower is a 165-foot structure built as a summer home in 1914 by Gilbert Heublein. Reachable via a 1.25 mile hiking trail to the top of the ridge of Talcott Mountain, the 360° view of the New England countryside is worth the hike. To get there: Follow Route 185 heading for Simsbury. At the top of the hill, Talcott Mountain State Park/Heublein Tower is on your left.
At an elevation of 1,250 feet, the Pinnacle overlook in Macricostas Preserve, Washington, is one of the finest in Connecticut. There is nearly 360-degree view of hills, mountains and Lake Waramaug, which gives this spot its other name, Waramaug's Rock. To get there: The preserve is located along Route 202 near the intersection with Route 47. Turn on Christian Street and look for the red house at 124 Christian St. The parking area and trailhead are behind the house.
Meet a Sleeping Giant and Reach New Heights
Two miles of mountaintop resembling a sleeping giant give this Hamden State Park its name, and make it a distinguishing feature on Connecticut's skyline. A 1 ½ mile scenic trail leads to the stone observation tower on the peak of Mt. Carmel which provides an excellent view of Long Island Sound and the New Haven area. To get there: The park entrance is off Mt. Carmel Avenue in Hamden, across from Quinnipiac University.
Not far from Sleeping Giant, the Metacomet Trail takes you to high above the Merimere Reservoir. Enjoy the view from the top at Castle Craig, a stone observation tower 32 feet tall and overlooking Meriden’s Hubbard Park.
From Lantern Hill’s granite summit in Ledyard, on a clear day, hikers can see the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, Fishers Island, Long Island, the hills of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations. To get there: Take I-95 to Exit 92. Follow Route 2 west. Turn left on Wintechog Hill Road just before reaching Foxwoods Resort Casino. The parking area and trail entrance is on the right.
Caleb’s Peak, located along the Appalachian Trail just north of Kent, offers great views of the valley below. In Mystic, bring the family to explore Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, which offers over 10 miles of walking, hiking and birding trails within a 350-acre nature preserve. And beginning July 5, their exhibits at the Nature Center will be open on weekends – just remember to wear a mask!
Bike to the Summit
Not all of the hiking trails listed above are open to mountain bikes, but here are few that are:
Before you head out on the trail, pick up some gear! Consider the following hiking supply stores: