Short but Sweet Hikes in Connecticut Last Updated: September 2022
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As a new father, I can sympathize that it's not always easy making time to get out and hike. Here are five hikes that can be done within a short period of time to help get the hiking urge satisfied.
Campbell Falls State Park - Norfolk, CT
Length: 1.1 miles
In & Out: 30 minutes
If you’re looking for a secluded nature trail that has a 100-foot waterfall then this short hike is for you. From the parking lot to the falls is about a 0.5-mile hike. Although the path isn’t the best labeled, the well beaten path makes it easy to navigate. This trail has tons of pine trees that provide an amazing smell and lots of shade, which is great during a hot day. This park is great to visit year-round but if you’re looking to see the falls at full potential, I recommend visiting during the spring time or after a heavy rainfall. I would like to point out that cell service at this location may be an issue depending on provider. A fun fact about this trail is that the park starts in Connecticut and once you get to the falls you will be in Massachusetts.
MT Tom Tower Trail - Washington, CT
Length: 1.4 miles
In & Out: 35 minutes
Starting from base of the trail, you immediately starting ascending. It’ll take about a 0.7-mile steady climb with about 500 feet of elevation gain until you reach the tower. On your hike up you will notice that the trail is not very well marked but the path is pretty defined. Don’t let that steer you away from enjoying this trail. Once you’ve reached the tower, you will have access to an amazing view of Mount Tom Pond. The view from the tower during fall is one of a kind and is highly recommended. One of the best times to hike this trail is during the summer because once you work up a sweat, you can cool yourself down in the beautiful pond below. Fun fact: Mount Tom State Park is one of Connecticut’s oldest state parks, established in 1915.
Pine Knob Loop Trail - Sharon, CT
Length: 2.7 mile
In & Out: 1 hour 20 minutes
Level: moderate to hard depending on hiking experience
This heart-pumping moderately hard trail should be on everyone’s hiking bucket list. Starting at the beginning of the trail you’ll have two choices — you can either start by going left on the blue trail or right. Personally, I recommend going right because it’s the quickest to the pine knob loop vista point. It won’t take long to realize that this hike really gets the heart pumping ... it may even have you thinking, "why did I even choose this?" Don’t be discouraged because once you finish the 1-mile hike up, you'll be more than happy with the rewarding views. Breathe and enjoy the views, and relax knowing that the rest of loop is nowhere near as intense. You’ll realize throughout this hike why it's called Pine Knob — the smell is absolutely amazing. There's even a waterfall along the trail that you can dip your feet in to cool off. Please note water levels may vary due to the season. If you want to see the waterfall at its best I recommend visiting after a heavy rainstorm or during the spring. Fun fact about this hike is that it partially connects to the famous Appalachian trail.
Haystack Mountain Stone Tower - Norfolk, CT
Length: 1 mile
In & Out: 30 minutes
Haystack Mountain is a popular location to hike, picnic, cross country ski, and view fall foliage. The trail to the Stone Tower is considered to be a moderately difficult but short 0.45-mile climb that pays off immensely. It may seem challenging at first but keep your eye on the prize. Once you’ve arrived at the top, you’ll be greeted by the 50-foot Stone Tower which provides panoramic views of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Fun fact: if the weather is perfectly clear you can actually see the Long Island Sound from the tower. I highly recommend hiking the stone tower trail during the fall foliage season due to the amazing views it has to offer. Please note this state park is seasonal and only allows cars to drive in from April 1st - November 1st. You may still visit the park during the off-season by walk-in only.
Little Pond Boardwalk Trail - Litchfield, CT
Length: 1.8 miles
In & Out: 45 minutes
This trail is the perfect family hike. The little pond boardwalk is a 1.8-mile trail but mostly boardwalk loop. One of my favorite characteristics of this trail is it brings you into a whole new habitat that you’d usually have to use a boat to access. Another perk is that you will have the opportunity to see tons of waterfowl, butterflies, dragonflies, and many other animals and insects. Every season has something different to offer here. During the spring and fall you’ll have the opportunity to catch migrating birds. The summertime will bring many different wild flower blooms and the winter time will give you amazing photo opportunities of the pine trees that lead up to the boardwalk. Any time is a good time to visit but I highly recommend a sunrise or sunset hike here. Please note that this trail is footpath only. A fun fact is that the boardwalk covers about 1.2 miles of the trail and it took over 2,600 hours to build.