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TheDay.com's Connecticut Hiking Guide

Published 04/25/2010 12:00 AM
Updated 05/10/2013 02:13 PM

NOTE: We've redesigned and redeployed our hiking guide. Visit and bookmark its new home.

To guide readers to local spots good for walks in the woods, The Day has created an online hiking guide for the region. Thanks to local land trusts and other volunteer groups, as well as the state and generous individuals who donated many acres, there are ample choices of places with public trails. Problem is, some can be hard to find, particularly for those new to the area. This guide is intended to remedy that.

Here you'll find 50+ sites, and we'll be adding more. As the list expands, places in every local town will be included.

The sites range in size, and offer a variety of woodland, river, marsh and shoreline habitats. Many of the trails are relatively flat and easy, but there are more challenging ones, too.

Please send feedback with suggestions for the site. We hope to improve it as it's expanded.

So put on a good pair of shoes and see for yourself what a walk outdoors can do!

Colchester

Day Pond State Park
Description: Day Pond State Park in Colchester is popular in the warmer months for swimming, fishing and picnicking, but is also where the blue-blazed Salmon River Trail's north and south loops begin.
Amenities: Bathrooms and outhouses; picnic tables and picnic shelter; pond stocked with trout.
Full listing...

East Haddam

Burnham Brook Preserve
Description: All you'll hear on this well-marked hike are birds singing and water gurgling down Burnham Brook, Strong Brook and the Eightmile River.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Darling Road and Winslow Preserves
Description: Two adjacent preserves in the Eightmile River watershed, featuring quiet, isolated woodland hiking.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Devil's Hopyard State Park
Description: Large state park including a number of trails of varying length and difficulty. Features include Chapman Falls, a scenic overlook and streams.
Amenities: Picnic tables, toilets, grills, handicapped parking and handicapped access to picnic tables and fishing.
Full listing...

Gillette Castle State Park
Description: Short trails with views of the Connecticut River surround Gillette Castle. Tour the inside of the stone castle during the summer months.
Amenities: Picnic tables. Campsites. Food concessions and restrooms open during castle hours.
Full listing...

East Hampton

Salmon River State Forest
Description: Fish and picnic along the Salmon River and take a look at the Comstock Bridge covered bridge.
Amenities: Bathrooms, fishing, picnic area.
Full listing...

East Lyme

Nehantic State Forest/East Lyme section
Description: 1,900 acres with dirt forest road that passes by rocky cliffs and ledges, several wetlands and waterways. Hunting in season.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Oswegatchie Hills
Description: Expansive nature preserve with several miles of trails that traverse woodlands adjacent to the Niantic River.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Raven's Woods
Description: A short, quiet trail amid 22 acres of woods alongside the Pattagansett River in Niantic.
Amenities: Picnic tables and a low-impact campsite.
Full listing...

Rocky Neck State Park
Description: Mostly flat trails that lead to the beach and back, with views of Long Island Sound and an estuary.
Amenities: Bathrooms (open during beach season), outhouses, picnic area, grills, campsites and swimming beach.
Full listing...

Franklin

Ayer's Gap
Description: Bailey's Brook flows through rugged rock outcrops to form two waterfalls along the trail through this rugged woodland.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Griswold

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman Area
Description: This area of the Pachaug State Forest includes major sections of three blue-blazed trails that are part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association's 800-mile trail system. One of these, the Pachaug Trail, includes the Mt. Misery overlook.
Amenities: Picnic tables, composing toilets, campground and horse camp area, trout-stocked fishing pond with boat launch and handicapped accessible fishing platform.
Full listing...

Groton

Beebe Pond Park
Description: Located in the Noank section of Groton, Beebe Pond Park features trails that start beside a salt pond and lead into a 97-acre woodland with a swamp and many rocky outcrops and large glacial boulders.
Amenities: Picnic table near Route 215 entrance.
Full listing...

Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve
Description: Bluff Point encompasses 800 acres of coastal forest, salt marsh, rocky shoreline and tidal areas on Long Island Sound with about four miles of marked trails. Saltwater fishing and shellfishing with a permit is also allowed.
Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, boat launch. Bushy Point Beach is accessible on foot, about one mile from the beginning of the trail. Swimming is at own risk.
Full listing...

Haley Farm State Park
Description: This 267-acre park is popular among bicyclists and dog walkers alike. Trails connect to those at nearby Bluff Point State Park.
Amenities: One composting toilet at the parking lot; bags available at the entrance as a reminder to pick up after your dogs; bike trail is wheelchair accessible.
Full listing...

Mortimer Wright
Description: An easy, quick walk through the woods near Groton Long Point.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Pequot Woods
Description: Pequot Woods is 140 acres of woodlands, wetlands and a beaver pond with more than two miles of marked trails.
Amenities: Several benches are located along the trails.
Full listing...

Sheep Farm
Description:Sheep Farm, a 63-acre tract, features approximately two miles of trails through a diverse terrain. The farm includes remnants of agricultural and industrial operations, including an early 18th century gristmill along Fort Hill Brook.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Killingworth

Chatfield Hollow State Park
Description:The drive to Chatfield Hollow along the picturesque Route 80 corridor is reason enough to visit. But stay for the hiking trails, fishing and swimming.
Amenities: Bathrooms, changing rooms, picnic shelters, picnic tables, pond and stream fishing, beach and swimming area.
Full listing...

Ledyard

Avery Preserve
Description:The highlight of the preserve is the rushing cascades formed by the Mill Pond Dam. Have a sit on the bench and watch the birds and listen to the water flowing over the rocks. The trails here are easy and well-marked, providing several options for loop hikes.
Amenities: Bench located at Mill Pond Dam.
Full listing...

Kettlehole Trail
Description:A short, flat 1/4 mile trail skirts the lip of a glacial depression called a kettlehole. A short spur trail descends into the middle of the kettlehole.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Ledyard Glacial Park
Description:A short loop trail winds through stunning rock formations created 13,000 years ago by a melting glacier. You will walk past (and sometimes climb over) boulders ranging in size from beach balls to buses.
Amenities: Benches overlooking the boulders.
Full listing...

The Pequot Trail
Description:The 7.6-mile Pequot Trail is one of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association's blue-blazed trails. It starts at Route 165 in Preston and travels south and east to Shewville Rd. in Ledyard.
Amenities: None
Full listing...

Pine Swamp Wildlife Corridor
Description: A variety of habitats and abundant wetlands can be found along the network of marked trails through this large area of protected land surrounded by subdivisions.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Poquetanuck Cove Preserve
Description: Beautiful views of Poquetanuck Cove, the only freshwater tidal marsh on the Thames River, await hikers to this 234-acre Nature Conservancy Preserve.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Lyme

Chestnut Hill Preserve
Description: This 40-acre parcel adjoins Nehantic State Forest, and a new trail through the preserve's rocky forests, wetlands and early successional habitat connects with trails in the state forest.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Gillette Castle State Park
Description: Short trails with views of the Connecticut River surround Gillette Castle. Tour the inside of the stone castle during the summer months.
Amenities: Picnic tables. Campsites. Food concessions and restrooms open during castle hours.
Full listing...

Hartman Park
Description: Ten miles of trails through woodlands, fields and wetlands, with stone walls and foundations of old farms and settlements throughout.
Amenities: Outdoor classroom with seating, sign-in board, map and outhouse. Green trail designed for children.

Full listing...

Nehantic State Forest/Lyme section
Description: 1,667-acre hardwood forest, two ponds, marshes and trout streams, blue-blazed trails maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association.
Amenities: Pit toilets, picnic tables and swimming area. Ponds suitable for kayaks, rowboats and fishing.
Full listing...

Pleasant Valley Preserve/Jewett Preserve
Description: Escape the bustles of daily life with a hike through this large tract of untouched land, which abuts the federally protected Eightmile River.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

River to Ridgetop Preserves
Description: Five contiguous preserves with more than 12 miles of interconnecting trails featuring a variety of terrain and difficulty levels.
Amenities: Information kiosks at Pleasant Valley/Jewett entrance off MacIntosh Road and at Jewett entrance off Mt. Archer Road; also at Mount Archer Woods entrance near stone pillar. Overlook off green trail in Pleasant Valley; overlook with bench off white trail in Jewett.
Full listing...

Roaring Brook Preserve
Description: Loop trail with guide to natural features leads to picturesque stream.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Selden Creek Preserve & The Ravine Trail
Description: Main trail at Selden Creek leads to Connecticut River overlook. Ravine Trail goes through wetlands, hemlock and hardwood forests and steep cliffs.
Amenities: Bench at overlook.
Full listing...

Montville

Camp Oakdale
Description: A 141.35-acre town park in the Oakdale section of Montville with athletic fields, tennis and a fitness trail.
Amenities: Bathrooms near the baseball fields and the pavilion.
Full listing...

Montville Conservation Center
Description: A 42.84-acre preserve located on the backside of the former Fair Oaks School property.
Amenities: Benches along some of the trails.
Full listing...

New London

Connecticut College Arboretum
Description: The Connecticut College Arboretum is a city oasis of landscaped park and woodlands with marked trails that's especially inviting in the spring when wildflowers are in bloom.
Amenities: Kiosk at entrance with self-guided tour brochures; bags provided for dog waste. Common native trees are labeled for identification.
Full listing...

Ocean Beach Park
Description: The nature trail at Ocean Beach Park in New London takes walkers along Alewife Cove salt marshes, through dunes to the mouth of the cove where it meets Long Island Sound, with an observation deck along the way.
Amenities: Observation deck looks out over Long Island Sound, mouth of Thames River and Ledge Light. Benches near entrance and along trail. Bathrooms on boardwalk open during beach season.
Full listing...

North Stonington

Hewitt Farm
Description: The Hewitt Farm property is a town-owned, 104-acre property featuring forested trails, streams, hayfields and an old cemetery. Fishing is popular in the Hewitt Pond.
Amenities: Canoe and kayak river access.
Full listing...

Lantern Hill
Description:At 400-feet elevation, Lantern Hill offers panoramic views of the area and white quartz cliffs for rock climbers.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Narragansett Trail
Description: The Narragansett Trail goes about 22 miles from Lantern Hill in North Stonington to Ashville Pond in Hopkinton, RI. The entire trail could be completed in 12 hours, but there are many opportunities for shorter day hikes along the trail.
Amenities: None. Toilets may be found at a campsite and a boat launch near the trail. Two shelters are located slightly off the trail.
Full listing...

Pachaug State Forest - Green Falls Area
Description: Located on the far eastern side of the state along the Rhode Island border, the Green Falls section of the Pachaug State Forest contains large sections of the Narragansett, Nehantic and Pachaug blue-blazed trails and a picturesque pond.
Amenities: Composting toilets; swimming area; camping area; cartop boat launch (no motors); picnic tables; pond is stocked with trout.
Full listing...

Old Lyme

Ames Preserve
Description: Stay close to civilization while getting in touch with nature at the Ames Preserve in Old Lyme.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Bartholomew Preserve
Description: Easy half-mile loop trail in the Old Lyme Greenway; home to a large flock of turkeys.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Champlain South
Description: Pick one of three trail entrances and walk your favorite of the numerous loop trails on the property.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Elizabeth Karter Watch Rock Nature Preserve
Description: A 25-acre nature preserve with flat, easy trails and a few spots to picnic by the water.
Amenities: Picnic tables, an outhouse, letterboxing.
Full listing...

George & Woodward H. Griswold Preserve
Description: A series of short, easy trails lead to the Lower Mill Pond Fish Ladder, which enables the migration of herring, salmon and eels from Long Island Sound into the pond to spawn.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Griswold Point
Description: Barrier beach at the mouth of the Connecticut River, closed from mid-March to Labor Day for bird nesting season.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Lay Property
Description: The most pleasant hikes can sometimes be found in unexpected places, such as the Lay property, tucked behind a subdivision off Route 1.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Lohmann-Buck-Twining Preserve
Description: Woodland along the Lieutenant River with loop trail that leads to ridge where Long Island Sound and Connecticut River are visible.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Old Saybrook

Clark Community Park
Description: Don't judge this park by its cover. What looks like an ordinary recreational field for team sports is actually much more: a nice lakeside spot to relax in and a great place to take a short or longer hike.
Amenities: Two baseball fields, a soccer field and a basketball court.
Full listing...

Great Cedars (West) Conservation Area
Description: The 320-acre Great Cedars (West) Conservation Area has 1.5 miles of trails, passing by a cedar swamp and Lake Rockview.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Plainfield

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman Area
Description: This area of the Pachaug State Forest includes major sections of three blue-blazed trails that are part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association's 800-mile trail system. One of these, the Pachaug Trail, includes the Mt. Misery overlook.
Amenities: Picnic tables, composing toilets, campground and horse camp area, trout-stocked fishing pond with boat launch and handicapped accessible fishing platform.
Full listing...

Preston

The Pequot Trail
Description:The 7.6-mile Pequot Trail is one of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association's blue-blazed trails. It starts at Route 165 in Preston and travels south and east to Shewville Rd. in Ledyard.
Amenities: None
Full listing...

Salem

Darling Road and Winslow Preserves
Description: Two adjacent preserves in the Eightmile River watershed, featuring quiet, isolated woodland hiking.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Walden Preserve
Description: Trails through Walden Preserve, a 400-acre property in Salem, take hikers through a variety of habitats -- young forest, fields and meadows, wetlands and streams.
Amenities: There are benches at a couple of spots along the trails.
Full listing...

Zemko Pond Wildlife Management Area
Description: A 464-acre state property with a variety of habitats, including grasslands and early successional forest that are important for many species of wildlife and are scarce in Connecticut, as well as mature forest, a beaver marsh and a pond. Open for hunting and fishing, the property is traversed by old farm roads that are suitable for hiking.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Stonington

Barn Island Wildlife Management Area
Description: Trails at the 1,000-acre Barn Island Wildlife Management Area, located along Wequetequock Cove and Little Narragansett Bay, take hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers through salt marshes, hardwood forests, old fields and freshwater marshes.
Amenities: Large boat launch with paved lot; port-o-johns at boat launch; interpretive signs along main loop trail.
Full listing...

Knox Preserve
Description: A small but significant birding area along Quiambog Cove in Stonington, Knox Preserve attracts many species of migratory birds in the spring and fall as well as birds that nest there in the spring and summer.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Paffard Woods
Description: An easily accessible area suitable for a short- to medium-length hikes through woodlands and wetlands.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Voluntown

Narragansett Trail
Description: The Narragansett Trail goes about 22 miles from Lantern Hill in North Stonington to Ashville Pond in Hopkinton, RI. The entire trail could be completed in 12 hours, but there are many opportunities for shorter day hikes along the trail.
Amenities: None. Toilets may be found at a campsite and a boat launch near the trail. Two shelters are located slightly off the trail.
Full listing...

Pachaug State Forest - Green Falls Area
Description: Located on the far eastern side of the state along the Rhode Island border, the Green Falls section of the Pachaug State Forest contains large sections of the Narragansett, Nehantic and Pachaug blue-blazed trails and a picturesque pond.
Amenities: Composting toilets; swimming area; camping area; cartop boat launch (no motors); picnic tables; pond is stocked with trout.
Full listing...

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman Area
Description: This area of the Pachaug State Forest includes major sections of three blue-blazed trails that are part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association's 800-mile trail system. One of these, the Pachaug Trail, includes the Mt. Misery overlook.
Amenities: Picnic tables, composing toilets, campground and horse camp area, trout-stocked fishing pond with boat launch and handicapped accessible fishing platform.
Full listing...

Waterford

Avery Tract
Description: The Avery Tract, owned by the Westfarms Land Trust, preserves a woodland near the banks of the Thames River just north of Smith Cove.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Harkness Memorial State Park
Description: Expansive grassy lawns and a sandy beach are circled by a flat grass and dirt path. Tour the Harkness family's summer mansion, or view a variety of birds in Goshen Cove.
Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, amphitheater. Mansion may be rented for private functions.
Full listing...

Mamacoke Island
Description: Mamacoke Island is a hidden gem with abundant wildlife and scenery nestled along the Thames River just off of bustling Route 32.
Amenities: None.
Full listing...

Stenger Farm Park
Description: Enjoy this 95-acre wildlife oasis just steps from a busy shopping district and across the street from Clark Lane Middle School.
Amenities: A dog park with separate enclosed areas for large and small dogs.
Full listing...

FORUM »

What do you think of our new hiking guide? Did we leave out your favorite trail? What areas should we cover next?

Share feedback and comment »

YOUR PHOTOS »

Take photos at one of these hiking spots, post them to www.zip06.com and we'll add them to the hiking page!

Harkness submitted by Sandra T

DEP site at sunset submitted by Sean Sweeney

Devil's Hopyard State Park submitted by Sean Sweeney

Harkness Park submitted by Sean Sweeney

Devil's Hopyard submitted by Greg McGuire of Waterford

Hike! submitted by Michelle G of East Lyme

HIKING EVENTS »

There are lots of organized hikes and nature walks in our area. Take a look or post your own at events.theday.com.

Event listings »

VIDEOS

PANORAMAS

Champlain South

Connecticut College Arboretum

Elizabeth Karter Watch Rock Nature Preserve

Fishway at George & Woodward H. Griswold Preserve

Harkness Memorial State Park

Hartman Park

Kettlehole Trail

Ledyard Glacial Park

Lohmann-Buck-Twining Preserve

Oswegatchie Hills

Selden Creek Preserve

Uncas Pond in Nehantic State Forest