Where to View Fall Foliage in Connecticut
Tips For All Leaf Peepers
- If you are traveling a long distance to Connecticut or you plan on making a weekend out of your trip, make hotel reservations in advance.
- Try to plan your trip during mid-week; you will find that roads are quieter giving you more opportunity to enjoy the views.
- Make an adventure out of your trip, explore the State's back roads. Some of the best sights are off the beaten path.
- Don't worry about missing "peak" color. You will still be able to enjoy a full array of colors that can be found before "peak".
- Make time to explore some areas on foot. Hiking allows you to truly experience the foliage you have come to enjoy.
- Contact the Connecticut Tourism Office for assistance in planning your "Leaf Peeping" Getaway!
Scenic Views and Hiking Locations
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection invites you to " Drop In And Discover" your state parks and forests.
Following are eight state parks and forests selected not only for their fall foliage, but also for providing viewing towers or lookouts. Spectacular views can also be found at the Goodwin Conservation Center, listed below.
Come to these selected parks and forests, view the surrounding countryside, and hike to discover the beauty of New England. Here are just a few of Connecticut’s best scenic viewing areas:
- Macedonia Brook State Park, Kent – Cobble Mountain
From Kent Center, take Route 341 west for approximately 2 miles. Take first right onto Macedonia Brook Road, which takes you into the park. (Bear left at the fork.)
Office and parking lot are located 1 mile inside the park. Trail maps are available. Take white blazed Cobble Mountain Trail. The overlook has views across the Harlem Valley to the Taconic and Catskill Mountains.
- Mohawk State Forest, Cornwall
From Torrington, Route 4W (14 miles) to forest entrance (Toumey Road) on left. Take road to ‘T’ intersection and turn right onto Mohawk Mountain Road.
Scenic vistas to the north and west include the Catskill, Taconic and Berkshire ranges. For your hiking pleasure both the Mattatuck and Mohawk trails (blue blazed) cross the site.
- Pachaug State Forest, Voluntown – Mt. Misery Overlook
From Voluntown take Route 49N (6 miles) to forest entrance on the left. Go west (2 miles) and bear left at forks to parking area.
Take woods access road on left to overlook.
This forest also contains miles of roads and hiking trails.
- Peoples State Forest, Barkhamsted – Chaugnam Lookout
From junction of Routes 318 and 181 in Pleasant Valley, go east over bridge then take first left onto East River Road. Jesse Gerard trailhead is 2.4 miles on the right. Recreation area is opposite the trailhead.
Take trail (yellow blazes) to two lookouts.
- Shenipsit State Forest, Somers – Observation Tower
From Somers, Take Route 190E (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.
For your hiking enjoyment, Shenipsit Trail (blue blazed) runs by the tower. The observation tower on Soapstone Mountain provides wonderful views of the surrounding and distant landscapes.
Talcott Mountain State Park, Simsbury – Heublein Tower
From Bloomfield, take 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.
- Mt. Tom State Park, Litchfield
Located off Route 202 – A stone tower 1, 325 feet above sea level can be reached by hiking a one-mile long trail.
- Dennis Hill State Park, Norfolk
Located off Route 272 – A summit pavilion located 1, 627 feet above sea level provides views of New Hampshire, Vermont’s Green Mountains, and more.
The drive to the summit is open weekends only from October 4 through October 26.
- Goodwin Conservation Center, On Route 6 in Hampton
View autumn colors reflected in the water of Pine Acres Pond from the wildlife-watching platform (wheelchair accessible). You can also walk through the canopy along one section of the Air Line Trail in the Goodwin State Forest.
A Little Something Different - Connecticut’s Shoreline
Are you tired of battling the hordes of leaf-peepers heading north this time of year? Why not head to the coast instead to look for colorful foliage of a more unusual nature? Many locations along the Connecticut shore offer fascinating vistas during the fall, including almost all of the coastal state parks, wildlife management areas and other open space sites described in DEEP's Connecticut Coastal Access Guide.
A prime example is Long Beach in Stratford. Sandwiched between Long Island Sound and the Great Meadows tidal wetlands, Long Beach is one of the longest barrier beaches in Connecticut--a little over a mile long. A visit here is a chance to walk along the shore, explore the dunes and appreciate the sheltered tidal wetlands. Though many of the colors may be a bit subdued, there is a sophistication in the warm buff of the dune grasses and the greens and gold's of the tidal wetlands. If brighter colors are more to your liking, few northern maples can match the brilliant red of the dense mats of low-growing glasswort in the wetlands. The bright blues of a sunny sky reflected off the tidal creeks double the enjoyment.
Although most of our summer shorebirds are long gone, a visit in October also brings the chance to glimpse migrating birds that have spent their summer further north. Shorebirds (including semipalmated sandpiper, black-bellied plover, ruddy turnstone, sanderling, and greater and lesser yellowlegs), waterfowl (including mallard, black duck, and merganser), hawks, and other migrants often can be spotted here. So bring your binoculars and your bird books.
Off-season, the parking is free, but make sure you dress appropriately, as the "sea breeze" can be chilly. Fishing is permitted. If you intend to visit during hunting season, proper precautions, including wearing hunter’s orange, should be taken as hunting is allowed in the Great Meadows salt marsh.
To get to Long Beach, take Exit 30 off I-95 and follow the signs to Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Enjoy the drive through the Great Meadows salt marsh, passing the airport on the left. At the next stop sign, turn right onto Oak Bluff Avenue. At the foot of Oak Bluff Avenue, enter the beach access and parking area. The beach is easily accessible from any of the parking spaces, but the easiest access for viewing the tidal wetlands is from the far western end of the parking area. So leave the leaves behind this fall, and check out Long Beach in Stratford.
Other Viewing Suggestions - Hike or Bike on one of Connecticut's Multi-use Trails
Try one of the many bikeways throughout the state to take in the wonderful colors of fall. These multi-use trails present a great way for outdoor enthusiasts, whether they are bikers, hikers or walkers, to experience autumn's show. Located throughout Connecticut, the trails bring visitors along our lakes, streams, rivers, ridgelines, and forests where they can quietly enjoy nature at their own pace.
For more information on Connecticut's multi-use trails, including locations, maps, and directions, visit the DEEP State Parks and Forests Maps page. You can also find trails suggested for your activity or trails located near you by using DEEP’s interactive 'Find a State Park or Forest' map.
Content last updated May 2019