Connecticut Fall Foliage
Hartford/Central Region Litchfield/Northwest region Mystic/Eastern Region
Beautiful Fall Foliage in ConnecticutConnecticut -- an easy day's drive from New York City for foliage viewing, will show its brightest colors in October. Best places to visit are the interior, wooded areas of the state, like the western region of Litchfield and the eastern and northeastern Mystic region. You may hear the term "the Last Green Valley," a reference to the wooded, peaceful, and beautiful northeastern corner of the state, which is north and east of the university town of Storrs. This area includes the James L. Goodwin and Natchaug state forests. All these places -- including the beautiful town of Stonington in the Mystic region -- have delightful small towns and gorgeous scenic drives.
If you are driving into Connecticut from New York City or thereabouts, think of taking the Merritt Parkway (Route 15), one of the view roads listed on the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places An added attraction of driving around in Connecticut is the Connecticut Wine Trail, consisting of many vineyards that welcome guests and also host plenty of harvest season type events and tastings at this time of year.
Turning to the south-central New Haven region, consider taking Route 17 on a northeasterly jaunt from New Haven and toward the town of Durham, which has a historic Main Street and lovely town green. Departing from Durham, another nice road, Route 77, will carry you back southward, toward Long Island Sound, and into the pretty town of Guilford Center. Also, directly north of New Haven, the town of Hamden is home to the hiker-friendly Sleeping Giant State Park, two miles of mountaintop resembling a man lying in repose. The central, capital city of Hartford has a beautiful city park, Bushnell Park, and the larger and more rugged East Rock Park.
When to VisitLeaves change color because of a combination of warm, sunny days and crisp, cool nights. Color changes start in mid-September in the northern states and in the mountains. Color will peak earlier in higher and cooler altitudes. Connecticut will have nice color into October because it is southerly and not as mountainous as northern New England. A rule of thumb is that color peaks at or near Columbus Day weekend, but this can vary based on various weather factors. Consider visiting during the mid-week to avoid congestion.
Where to StayDecide on your dates of travel and make reservations for lodging at inns, hotels, and motels early. Lots of travelers are competing for hotel rooms in the fall. Connecticut has a range of lodging options. If you love staying at a bed and breakfast inn, the Mystic area has lots of beauties. Hotels and resorts that feature romantic getaways are scattered throughout the state. If you want to add a stop at the Foxwoods casino in Ledyard or the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville to your foliage tour, there are lots of casino-area lodgings.
Where to Find ColorIf climate conditions are right, color should be everywhere. For guidance, click on links below to the New England Foliage Map and New England Foliage Report. Also, take a map and explore some of the small, back roads as you wander. Look for roadside signs for public parks, and other places to get out of the car, stretch, and explore. Dont feel that you must stay in the mountains to see good color. Drive to state parks or forests of farm areas and get out of the car, stretch, and look around. Take a walk.
Clothing and GearEven if days are warm, be prepared for chilly nights with long pants, long sleeves, and a sweater. Wear sneakers and jeans so that you can jump out of the car and scramble over a stone wall or ramble through a hillside meadow if the opportunity arises. Take a camera, but remember to put it down frequently and just look around. Take visors and sunscreen and binoculars.
Where to DriveFind directions and tips for great views and attractions for at the drive tours described below on this page.
More Resources:Use the New England Foliage Map to determine where and when you are likely to see the best foliage. Once foliage season begins the Foliage Reports will be regularly updated.
Shenipsit State Forest in Somers Drive and Walk
-- For your hiking enjoyment, Shenipsit Trail (blue blazed) runs by the observation tower at the Shemipsit State Forest. The observation tower on Soapstone Mountain provides wonderful views of the surrounding and distant landscapes.
■ From Somers, Take Route 190 east (1.25 miles) to blinking yellow light.
■ Turn right onto Gulf Road (2.25 miles) to next right after Mountain View Road, which is Soapstone Mountain Road. Take road to tower parking lot.
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Stafford -- Shenipsit State Forest
Talcott Mountain State Park and Heublein Tower
-- Talcott Mountin State Park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Distinct geographical formations date back to ancient times. It also is home to Gilbert Heublien's unique summer estate, dating to 1914, which is open to the public.
■ From Bloomfield, take Route 178 west to Route 185W (3 miles) to entrance sign on left after mountain crest.
■ 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.
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Bloomfield Talcott Mountain State Park, 57 Gun Mill Road, 860-242-1158
♦ Bloomfield Penwood State Park, 57 Gun Mill Road, 242-1158
♦ Bloomfield Heublein Tower, Summit Ridge Drive, 860-242-1158
New Milford Around Iron Mountain Preserve and Lake Waramaug -- 64 miles
-- This drive will take travelers past the Housatonic River; Bull's Bridge and Kent Falls Bridge (both covered bridges); the town of Kent and its many art galleries, historic homes and churches; Warren; Lake Waramaug; Mount Tom State Park; the historic Iron Mountain Preserve, and the Institute for American Indian Studies.
■ Begin at the New Milford Green, and take CT Route 202 West to Route 7 North
■ Take Route 7 through the towns of New Milford, Gaylordsville and Kent to Calhoun Corners
■ near Calhoun Corners, pick up Route 45 South to Warren
■ Drive around Lake Waramaug into New Preston. In New Preston, take Route 202 East to Route 47 South through Washington
■ Take Route 199, and then Route 67 into Roxbury Station
■ Follow Route 67 to the junction of Route 202 in New Milford where the drive began
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Kent -- Bull's Bridge and Kent Falls Bridge
♦ Kent -- Iron Mountain Preserve, Treasure Hill Road
♦ New Preston -- Lake Waramaug, 30 Lake Waramaug Road, 860-868-2592
♦ Washington -- Institute for American Indian Studies, 38 Curtis Road, 860-868-0518
♦ Litchfield -- Mount Tom State Park , Route 202, 860-868-2592.
Torrington to Norfolk Around People's State Forest -- 68 miles
-- This drive passes through many lovely small towns and past Peoples State Forest, offering four-season activities like fishing, hunting and winter sports in wooded splendor. Also near this drive is Lake McDonough, is a scenic, unspoiled public recreation area offering wheelchair accessibility to beaches, bathhouses, the boathouse and picnic areas, a nature trail with Braille signs, and cross-country skiing.
■ Begin in Torrington at the junction of Route 8 and Route 4
■ Take Route 8 north into Winsted, where it will intersect Route 44
■ Take Route 44 east into New Hartford
■ In New Hartford pick up Route 219 north through Lake McDonough to Route 318
■ Continue on Route 318 west and 181 south for 1 mile, then make a right just before the metal bridge and take the road through the People's State Forest to Route 20 in Riverton
■ Take Route 20 west through Riverton; at the junction of Route 8, take 8 south into the center of Winsted
■ Pick up Route 44 west and take it to Route 183 north into the center of Colebrook
■ From Colebrook take Route 182A to 182, and make a right on 182
■ At the intersection of Route 44, take 44 west into Norfolk. In Norfolk, pick up Route 272 South into Torrington
■ Take 272 to Route 4 east, bear right onto Main Street
■ Where Main Street meets Route 202, take 202 east to the junction of Route 8 and 4, where the trip began
Waterbury Area Loop
-- This loop is good for people with limited time to spend. With only short stops for viewing the scenery, the trip should take less than two hours. Black Rock Park offers excellent hiking, scenic views, and Indian legends, all tucked into the scenic rolling hills of the Western Highlands of Connecticut. People with more time to spend should visit Waterbury's Mattatuck Museum, with exhibits chronicling the industrial history of the Naugatuck Valley as well as its social, architectural and cultural past.
■ From I-84 in Waterbury, begin at Route 8 north to Exit 38.
■ At the end of the exit ramp, make a left. Travel down to the first traffic light and turn left again. You should now be on Route 6
■ At the next stop sign, turn left again. Make sure you stay on Route 6 through the traffic light, and continue on until you spot the entrance to Black Rock State Park. Turn right and enter the park
■ Upon exiting the park, turn right back onto Route 6
■ Follow the road into Watertown; at the intersection of State Route 63, turn left
■ Follow Route 63 into Middlebury and to the intersection at Route 64
■ Turn right onto Route 64 and follow it down about 4 miles to Route 188, where you'll turn left. As you continue on Route 188, you'll pass the High Lonesome Rose Hurst Stable on the left. Continue on Route 188 for five miles to Route 67
■ Turn left onto Route 67 South. This will take you through Oxford and then into Seymour
■ In Seymour, pick up Route 8 North and take it back to Waterbury
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Waterbury Mattatuck Museum, 144 W. Main Street, 203- 753-0381
♦ Watertown Black Rock State Park, Route 6, 860-567-5694
♦ Oxford -- Southford Falls, Route 188, 203-264-5169
Connecticut State Route 169 (The Last Green Valley Scenic Byway) -- 32 miles
On this byway, travelers traverse one of the last unspoiled areas in the northeastern United States. This byway winds through history, passing colonial homesteads, churches, stone walls, meeting houses and private schools, as it connects classic New England towns. Views include maple and pine stands and glacially deposited rocks and boulders that lie strewn throughout fields. Time: Allow one hour without stopping or one full day to visit places along the byway.
Directions: The byway follows State Route 169.
Get onto Interstate 395 traveling north.
Get off on exit 83A (to CT Route169) and continue north to Lisbon.
The byway begins in the community of Lisbon and continues on SR-169 past Canterbury, Brooklyn, Pomfret, and Woodstock to the border of Massachusetts.
Traveling south on I-395, take Exit 2 in Massachusetts.
Travel southwest on CT Route 197 until you reach the junction with CT Route 169. This is just past the beginning of the byway.
Travel south on CT Route 169. The byway ends in Lisbon on CT Route 169.
Major Points of Interest:
♦ Brooklyn Green -- The Brooklyn Green is a National Register Historic District that includes seven historic features within two acres. Location: In the town of Brooklyn on the byway.
♦ Natchaug State Forest -- This forested area offers an outdoor getaway to travelers who enjoy camping and other outdoor activities. Directions: Leaving Pomfret, take CT Route 169 south. At the junction with US-44, turn right and head west to the park.
♦ Pachaug State Forest -- The Pachaug State Forest offers trails for hikers, snowmobilers, and horseback riders.
♦ Prudence Crandall Museum in the town of Canterbury -- First academy for black women (1833-1834) in New England run by the remarkable Prudence Crandall. Location: Located in the town of Canterbury at the intersection of CT Route 169 and CT Route 14.
Mystic and Old Mystic Via River Road to Pequot Trail
-- This drive along the tidal Mystic River, with its ample marsh meadows and waterfowl nesting areas, is beautiful at any time of the year. From the cemetery on River Road, close-up views of Mystic Seaport on the opposite bank of the river give illusion of life in this shipbuilding community in the early 1800s. Downtown Mystic, with several good gift shops and restaurants, is a delightful place to explore.
■ Start on West Main Street / Route 1 in Downtown Mystic on the Groton side of the drawbridge. Turning northward onto Pearl Street. After a few blocks of charming homes you will see the Mystic River on the right. Stay close to the river and you will get onto River Road, which meanders alongside the river to Old Mystic.
■ Shortly after you pass a cemetery on the right you will come to a traffic light. You are now in Old Mystic. Turn right at the light and then turn right at the stop sign on to Route 27 South.
■ Just past the view of the river on the right and the refurbished brick mill, turn left onto Pequot Trail / Route 234. The road climbs quickly and sharply and then gently twists and turns through Stonington. Follow the Route 234 signs.
■ When you reach the traffic light at Route 1 turn sharply to right onto Route 1 South. Follow Route 1 back to Mystic.
Mystic Region Shoreline Drive
-- This is a scenic trip through the shoreline towns of Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Madison, Guilford and Branford.
■ Begin in Essex and take Route 154 south into Old Saybrook
■ Route 154 goes right through the center of Old Saybrook and then heads out to Saybrook Point, where it turns and follows the coastline. Great water views can be found all along the route, but the scene of Long Island Sound from Saybrook Point with the homes out in Old Lyme in the distance is unforgettable.
■ In Westbrook, 154 will intersect with historic U.S. Route 1. Following Route 1 west into Branford will take you through the traditional New England village centers of Clinton, Madison, and Guilford; past numerous shoreline and marina settings; and near the popular Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Madison -- Hammonasset Beach State Park, 1288 Boston Post Road, 203-245-2785
♦ Old Lyme -- Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme Street, 860-434-5542
♦ Guilford -- Bishop's Orchards, 1355 Boston Post Road, 203-453-2338.
Norwich-Woodstock Turnpike -- 32 miles
-- The Norwich-Woodstock Turnpike / Route 169 runs for 32 miles from Canterbury to Woodstock in the northeastern part of Connecticut known as the Quiet Corner. This turnpike is the longest scenic state highway in Connecticut, with views of historic sites, rolling hills, gentle woodlands. About 190 pre-1855 homes survive along the highway, as well as historic churches and farms. The highway winds through the towns of Lisbon, Canterbury, Brooklyn, Pomfret, and Woodstock, an architectural feast surrounding a traditional New England town green.
■ Route 169 from Canterbury to Woodstock
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Canterbury -- Wright's Mill Farm, 65 Creasey Road, 860-774-1455
♦ Brooklyn -- Creamery Brook Bison, 19 Purvis Road, 860-779-0837
♦ Pomfret -- Connecticut Audubon Society Center, 189 Pomfret Street / Route 169, 860-928-4948.
Eastern Mystic Region Route 49 to 14A -- 18 miles
-- Along this state scenic highway, travelers can see dramatic vistas from large hilltop farms. Three of those farms have been used by the same families continuously for almost 300 years. This route runs for 19.5 miles north to the Sterling Hill National Register Historic district. Offering views of fields and farms, it's a great way for visitors to nearby Mystic in southeastern Connecticut and to extend their trip northward to northeastern Connecticut.
■ Route 49 from North Stonington north to Route 14A in Sterling
Nearby Points of Interest:
♦ Ledyard / Mashantucket -- Foxwoods Resort Casino, 39 Norwich-Westerly Road, 800-369-9663.