Destinations & Day Trips

10 Beautiful Connecticut Towns for Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage in Connecticut
Written by Timothy Stobierski

Now that October is winding to a close, this is the perfect time to go out and enjoy the changing leaves before they’re gone.

The colors will become their most vibrant in the next few weeks before turning to bare branches around November 15—so you better hurry!

According to the CT DEEP, thee following are peak foliage dates for the main CT regions, so keep these timeframes in mind before planning your trip:

  • Northwest and Northeast Corners: October 9 to October 15
  • Eastern and Western CT (mid-state): October 16 to October 23
  • CT Shoreline and Lower CT River Valley: October 31 to November 6

Whether you’re looking for a fun family outing, a romantic date idea, or you’re just a lover of nature, here are 10 of the best towns in CT for leaf-peeping. Check the CT DEEP’s Fall Foliage Report before heading out so you know you’ll see some beautiful fall colors!

1) Voluntown

The Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown (near the border with Rhode Island) is the largest forest in our state’s forest system at a whopping 27,000 acres of land and is a National Natural Landmark. With so much territory to cover, there won’t be any shortage of bright hues to gaze at. The Mt. Misery overlook arguably offers the best views of the trees.

In addition to the beautiful leaves, the park offers hiking trails, a white cedar swamp, and even motorcycle-accessible trails.

2) Hamden

Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden is by far my favorite location on this list simply because it’s so close to me. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails to enjoy covering a lot of difficulties and terrains, from an old quarry to a quaint stream. To take in all of the surrounding beauty, head up to the lookout tower at the summit of the mountain; it’s an easy climb for children and adults alike.

3) Cornwall

The Mohawk State Forest spreads through Cornwall, Goshen, and Litchfield. You can go to literally any part of the forest and enjoy the amazing fall foliage and sweeping vistas of the Taconic, Berkshire, and Catskill mountain ranges.

If hiking isn’t really for you, you can enjoy a nice picnic by the parking area, which also offers stunning views.

4) Norfolk

The Dennis Hill State Park in Norfolk is described by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection as an “autumn wonderland” with more than 240 acres and panoramic views. A pavilion near the summit makes for a quaint picnic area to take in the changing leaves. It’s accessible by a paved road, making it perfect for beginners and youngsters who might not be ready for a more intense hike.

5) Barkhamsted

The Peoples State Forest in Barkhamsted (in Litchfield County) was established in 1924; the land was purchased with donations at an estimated $8 an acre which was then donated to the state for the citizens to enjoy. While you’re taking in the reds, oranges, and yellows, take some time to explore the attractions that the forest has to offer, including the west branch of the Farmington river, 200-year-old white pine picnic groves, 11 miles of hiking trails, and the remains of the “Barkhamsted Lighthouse” (this was actually an old log cabin that was not built terribly well, leading to the light on the inside leaking out and being dubbed “a lighthouse” by locals).

6) Simsbury

Located in scenic Simsbury, the Talcott Mountain State Park is the home of the Heublein Tower. Standing at 165 feet atop Talcott Mountain, the tower offers a truly amazing view of the fall foliage in the surrounding landscape. The walk up to the tower only takes about a half hour, making this an easy trek for anyone.

The Tower also acts as a museum, which has a good and a bad side. On the good side, you can learn more about the history of the park; on the bad side, access to the tower is limited to Tuesday–Sunday from 10am–5pm.

7) Kent

Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent offers 2,300 prime acres of changing leaves for you to enjoy. With multiple peaks, there are plenty of opportunities for you to take in the beauty in the surrounding landscape.

After you’ve gotten your fill of leaves, make sure you check out Bull’s Bridge, which is one of just 3 surviving covered bridges in Connecticut.

8) Hampton

The James L. Goodwin State Forest in Hampton (along Route 6 in Windham County) is another location offering pristine views of Connecticut’s foliage. Begin at the Goodwin Conservation Center, where you will find a shed for viewing wildlife; the shed looks out onto Pine Acres Lake and is an amazing spot for picture-taking and leaf-peeping.

The forest grounds also feature the Haley Native Plant Wildlife Gardens, 3 large ponds, and the Goodwin Nature Museum, making for a great CT day trip.

9) Somers

The Shenipsit State Forest in Somers offers more than 7,000 acres of land for you to enjoy the beautiful fall scenery. While you can get your fill of leaves by hiking the trails, the hands-down centerpiece of this park is the Soapstone Mountain observation tower, which affords an amazing vantage point for viewing everything from the Connecticut River Valley to the Springfield Skyline.

10) Litchfield

Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield is a short hike with amazing views for leaf-lovers. A stone observation tower marks the 1,325-foot summit of the mountain, making it the perfect spot to fully enjoy autumn’s colors. The trail to the tower is less than a mile long, making it easy for anyone to finish. A spring-fed pond changes things up, letting you snap some unique photos by the water.

Parking reportedly fills up quickly, and once it’s full additional visitors may be turned away, so just keep this in mind and plan your day accordingly; it’s best to get there early.

Bonus: Fall Foliage Driving Tours!

If you’re really not much of a hiker, we’ve got some good news for you! The CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection has compiled a list of 7 driving routes that people can take to experience the beauties of Fall without ever needing to leave your car. There’s a tour for every part of the state, meaning that you really don’t have to drive far to get your fill of the changing leaves.

Better hurry though: There are only a few weeks left before the foliage is past its peak. On this fall foliage map, click on the date ranges offered and see what the conditions will be like so you can plan accordingly; the shoreline tends to start a bit later than the more northern parts of the state, and goes a bit later, meaning you can still enjoy the leaves into the middle of November as long as you know where to look.

About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press.

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