You would imagine that a park named Lover’s Leap would be an idyllic spot full of romance and beauty. And if you ever visited Lover’s Leap State Park in New Milford, you’d probably agree with that statement: It really is a beautiful place. But it’s also got a storied and dark past that’ll leave you wondering if you’re really alone with your sweetheart as you wander the trails.
About the Park
Lover’s Leap State Park sits in New Milford, about 42 miles outside of New Haven. The park is about 127 acres of oak forest that follows the Housatonic River, making it an important link in the Housatonic River Belt Greenway, which follows the river from the Berkshires all the way to Long Island Sound.
The main attraction is the Lover’s Leap path (called the Falls Mountain Trail on the trail map created by the DEEP) that brings you down to the Lover’s Leap Bridge, a bright red wrought-iron bridge built by the Berlin Iron Company in 1895. Originally called the Falls River Bridge and used by automobiles, it is now open only to pedestrian traffic. This is a favorite spot for couples to visit for a while and gaze out into the beauty of the Housatonic Valley.
At the end of the trail you will find a rock formation that gives ultimately gives the park its name (more on this below). Otherwise, there are plenty of other trails for you to tackle if you’d like a bit more variety, including the Blue Trail, which will bring you up to the peak of the mountain for some stunning views of the area all around.
You will hopefully notice the intriguing foundation ruins of old structures as you make your ascent—making it just the thing to get your imagination roaring.
In the spring and summer, the park is bustling with greenery and life; in the fall it becomes the perfect stroll to take in the foliage and scenery; and in the winter it transforms into a snowy wonderland. In short, it’s a great trek any time of year.
Legend of Lover’s Leap
While the park and trail and bridge all make for a romantic feel when you stroll through the woods, it might surprise you to learn that the park (and its name) has a darker history.
According to legend, hundreds of years ago there was a Native American woman named Lillinonah, who was the daughter of a chief in Connecticut. She fell madly in love with an Englishman and married him, but he then needed to leave for business.
When he hadn’t returned as he’d promised to do, Lillinonah decided to jump from a rock formation at the top of the mountain (see above), causing her death. When her husband did return and learned what she had done, he followed suit, diving down into the water to be with his love.
The whole story really makes you think twice about staying out late with your buddies, doesn’t it?
If You’re Interested in Going
To find the entrance of the park, just head to Still River Drive in New Milford, where you’ll find a small parking lot for the park. There are no parking or entrance fees, which is always a plus, and the park is open all year during daytime hours. Though the park has easy access to the Housatonic River, swimming is prohibited due to the lack of lifeguards on duty. You can find a trail map for Lover’s Leap State Park here, provided by the CT DEEP.