The Ultimate Foliage Tour - Central Connecticut

The Lower Connecticut River Valley has been called one of the “last great places on earth” by The Nature Conservancy, and fall is a great time to take it all in. Here’s a trip that goes up one side of the river, crosses it, and then comes back down the other side - with some good stops along the way.

1-2 days

  • Fall

  • Hamburg Cove
  • Devil’s Hopyard
  • Across the River
  • Chester, Deep River, Essex
  • Connecticut River Museum

Hamburg Cove

This foliage tour of the Lower Connecticut River Valley begins on Route 156 in Old Lyme, right where it intersects with I-95. Take 156, also known as Neck Road, north, with the Connecticut River on your left. The road eventually becomes Hamburg Road and takes you to one of Connecticut’s most beautiful spots, Hamburg Cove. Take Cove Road to explore the length of the Cove before returning to 156.

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Devil's Hopyard State Park, East Haddam

Devil’s Hopyard

Continue north on 156, take a right on Route 82, past the Fox Hopyard Golf Club and then a quick left on Route 434. This road will take you to one of the state’s natural gems, Devil’s Hopyard State Park. You’ll cut right through the middle of the park, but feel free to stop and picnic if it’s a nice day.

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Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam

Across the River

Shortly after leaving the park, 434 bends sharply to the west and heads back toward the river, where it rejoins Route 82 for the trip across the swing bridge in East Haddam, home to Gillette Castle. The foliage view is worth the trek. Your drive now continues on the west side of the river with a turn south onto Route 154.

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Chester/Hadlyme Ferry, Chester

Chester, Deep River, Essex

In Chester, you can stop for a bite to eat in the center of this charming town, and you can consider heading down to the ferry landing for a quick back-and-forth on the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry that’s been plying the Connecticut here since 1769.

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Connecticut River Museum, Essex

Connecticut River Museum

You can get out of the car to learn about the river's heritage at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, then climb aboard the RiverQuest for a narrated cruise of the lower Connecticut River and spectacular foliage views. Another option is to take a ride on the nearby Essex Steam Train to take in the leaves from a restored railcar and riverboat. There are even specially themed foliage tours.

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