Connecticut continues to amaze us with its opportunities to take in the beautiful landscapes that it has. The many hiking trails throughout the state allow you to breathe in the fresh air and, in seasons like winter, it encourages you to take on the cold for the reward of the crisp air and fresh sights.
If you’re getting stir crazy feeling cooped up inside your home this winter, embrace the season for all it’s worth. Embark on an adventure along any of Connecticut’s various trails. If you’re up to the challenge, then enduring the brisk air will certainly be well worth it.
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Devil’s Hopyard—East Haddam
This trail, located on 1,000 acres, is a top pick among Connecticut hiking enthusiasts. This adventure can take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete depending on which of the various trails you chose to take.
There are six different trails which all are a loop shape. Take the red trail, which is just shy of 3 miles long, and you will be sure to come across the alluring bridge pictured above. No matter what your hiking experience is you can find a trail here that is suitable for all levels. If you’re not convinced yet, I’m sure you’ll get drawn in when you hear that not only will the beauty of forest draw you in but you can also spot waterfalls along the route. Chapman Falls, found in the park drops over 60 feet, now that is something you have to see with your own eyes.
The park is open year round in case you aren’t able to make it during the winter, and there are no fees or permits required to hike during the day. Oh, and dogs are welcome! You can find a trail map for Devil’s Hopyard here.
For those of you who can’t get enough of the shoreline no matter the season, this winter hike will surely be right for you. With gorgeous views of the water, it’s especially beautiful in the winter when the snow is covering the ground and crunches underfoot.
Dawn and dusk are favorite times to head to the park, and are sure to transport you into a winter wonderland of sorts that you definitely won’t soon forget. Dogs are allowed on the trail which makes for the perfect morning walk for you and your pet. This wooded peninsula that juts out into the Long Island Sound is definitely a must-see! Bluff Point offers stunning views and a relatively easy hike, even in the winter.
The park is open year round and you can find a trail map here. The trail is just under 4 miles long and is a good fit for hikers of all skill levels.
Sleeping Giant State Park—Hamden
Why is it named “Sleeping Giant?” If you head there you can see for yourself!
When you get to the top you can look out and see a mountaintop that resembles the face of a giant; the rest of the mountain range is said to be the giant’s sleeping body. You can find a tower at the top of the trail, which will better help you find the giant’s face when you get to the lookout. The tower trail itself is just between 1.5 and 2 miles long and the end result is well worth it with an amazing view of Long Island Sound, Quinnipiac campus, and New Haven.
Other trails range in difficulty to suit a range of skill levels (the Blue and White Trails are among favorites of the CTWeekender Staff). The purple trail is also a nice, scenic hike that brings you along a small river before looping up by the quarry.
There are only parking fees on the weekends and on holidays, so if you have a weekday off of work be sure to take advantage of it here. Otherwise, you can always park on the street. Dogs are welcome, and you can find a trail map here.
White Memorial Conservation Center—Litchfield
This massive park is filled with 40 miles of trails, most of which are less than 2 miles long, making it accessible to all skill levels.
There are over 50 entrances allowing you to enter the trails from various locations that are convenient to you. Whether you are an expert hiker or a novice, you’ll love the range of difficulty, terrain, and beautiful sights that you’ll pass during your time in the woods. Entry is free of charge, so if you are looking for an inexpensive day activity, this place will certainly keep you busy for most of the day.
If you have been here before and want to make the hike a little more exciting, check out the scavenger hunt for a unique twist on your next visit. Give it your best shot! You can find a trail map of the entire park here, and a more detailed version of the main area here.
Mattatuck trail crosses through the towns of Wolcott, Harwinton, Litchfield, Plymouth, Thomaston, Waterbury, and Watertown, offering gorgeous terrain. The trail has been moved into pine woods so there is no longer a gravel road to follow, however the trails are clearly marked. While hiking these trails you may come across Buttermilk Falls, a charming pond, and Leatherman’s Cave.
The trail is almost a 16 mile trip to the end and back since it does not loop around. If you are up for an all-day affair, this location is highly recommended. Although the trail is most certainly a long one, the terrain makes it a good choice for all skill levels so don’t be turned away by the length of the trail.
You can find a trail map of the park here.