Connecticut has some fantastic natural attractions that are available to the public year round. With our fantastic coastline, beautiful forests, and peaceful winding rivers, it is easy to see why so many people visit CT to see what our great state has to offer. As a Connecticut native, I believe that many people who live here do not take advantage of our spectacular hiking locations. Hiking is a great lower intensity workout, which you should include at least once a week in your routine. Here (in no particular order), I will be sharing my top five favorite hiking spots in Connecticut!
Sleeping Giant State Park (Hamden): Sleeping Giant has a nice variety of hiking trails. Whether you choose to traverse the classic tower trail or one of the other trails that takes you through semi dense woods, rest assured your hike will be fulfilling. The different trails in this location range from relatively easy to challenging, with the signature tower trail likely being the easiest. If you have never tried a hike at this location before, I highly recommend that you give it a shot!
Side note: There are several entrances to the Sleeping Giant trails. Most people will choose to begin their hikes from the main parking lot. However, my favorite spot to begin is at lesser known entrance on Chestnut Lane, which is a few miles down the road from Quinnipiac University. From this location, you can access most of the trails that run from east to west across the park.
Bear Mountain (Salisbury): The Bear Mountain hike is likely the most difficult entry on this list. Bear Mountain’s peak is the tallest point in CT. It is also arguably the only real mountain that we have in the state. As far as mountains go, Bear Mountain is still very much on the small and tame side. You do not not need any special gear to complete the hike to the summit, and there are no sections that really force you to even “climb.” However, it is definitely not an easy hike. I would only attempt this hike if you are already in pretty good physical shape and have no major limitations. I recommend people start their hikes to the summit at the Undermountain Trail location. From this starting point, you can expect about two hours of hiking to reach the summit. Naturally, the hike back down is a little bit shorter in duration. If you are up for a challenging hike, be sure to give Bear Mountain a try!
White Memorial Conservation Center (Litchfield): At around 4000 acres in total, the White Memorial trail system is definitely the largest overall area on this list, and likely has more hiking trails than the other spots as well. Due to this you can find a lot of variety between different trails in this location. There are boardwalk hikes, that take you along lagoons and different bodies of water, as well as more vigorous hikes that bring you through a variety of different terrains. I don't have a particular favorite beginning point to start a hike when at White Memorial but rest assured that Litchfield itself is littered with different beginning and end points for these trails, so you will have plenty of options.
Castle Craig/Hubbard Park (Meriden): When searching for a scenic hiking spot, many people from CT often don't think of Castle Craig . This is because many prefer to drive to the castle location at the summit and be about their merry way after that. However, there are also many great hiking trails that branch out from Hubbard Park and Castle Craig. These trails range from easy to moderately difficult, and offer a variety of spectacular views. Additionally, taking the paved road up to the castle is a pretty good hike as well. Although perhaps slightly less scenic than some of the others on this list, this hike offers a good amount of challenge as well as a top notch view at the end. Give this one a try this summer!
Talcott State Park/Heublein Tower (Simsbury): The tower trail is about 1.25 miles long. It takes about 30 or 40 minutes to get to the Heublein Tower located at the top. Although this is the shortest hike on the list, it is not necessarily the easiest. There are many parts of this hike where the incline is very challenging and steep. Due to this, this hike may not be appropriate for everyone, especially those with orthopedic problems. However, the view at the top of the trail was a key factor in choosing this hike as one of my favorite in the state. For this reason alone, I recommend that anyone who is physically capable of making the journey to give this hike a try.
So there you have it, my top hiking spots in Connecticut! I hope that you give one (or all!) of these locations a try! If anyone has any questions or comments be sure to let me know!