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Hike 8 of Connecticut’s Coolest Treks

Did you know Connecticut is #1 in the U.S. for hiking? Whether passing through forests, along mountain ridges or in wetland preserves, Connecticut’s hiking trails offer a range of things to experience, from soaring views and lush scenery to winding rivers and even a waterfall or two. So we got some advice from someone who knows them well. Rob McWilliams is an avid hiker who details his four-season adventures on western and central Connecticut trails in his blog, McWilliams Takes a Hike. He shared a few of his favorite hikes with us, along with tips on what to look for, how to get there and even where to park (including GPS coordinates).

Macricostas Preserve, Washington

Take a hike through fields, wetlands and forest to Waramaug’s Rock; then drink in the view of beautiful Lake Waramaug far below. Follow the Meeker Trail’s most direct route to the Rock for a 2- to 3-hour roundtrip hike. Be prepared for one steep climb. Pack water, and a snack for the summit. Dogs are permitted on a leash.

Parking: Christian Street, New Preston (GPS: 41.682267, -73.333644).
Steep Rock Association

Ragged Mountain, Southington

Take a rugged, all-day hike to big views from Ragged Mountain, taking in – on a clear day! – Hartford, the Metacomet Ridge, and the beautiful Hanging Hills. Follow the blue-blazed Metacomet/New England Trail south to Ragged Mountain summit, and return by the same route for a 10-mile roundtrip trek. Take food and lots of water. Ragged Mountain Preserve also offers options for shorter hikes.  

Parking: Park (carefully) on Andrews Street, Southington (GPS: 41.630061, -72.833550).

Appalachian Trail along the Housatonic River, Sharon

Walk an easy section of the fabled Appalachian Trail beside the banks of our second longest river, taking in the Housatonic’s steep, wooded valley and magnificent river scenes. Follow the Appalachian Trail's white blazes south on flat trail for just as far as you want. A hike to Stewart Hollow Brook lean-to and back would be 4-5 miles. Take water and snacks. Dogs under their owner’s control are permitted.

​Parking: River Road, Sharon (GPS: 41.807935, -73.391447).

Peoples State Forest, Barkhamsted

Start with a heart-pumping climb in People’s State Forest to a magnificent view of the Farmington River valley, then loop through gentle woods to a scenic swamp. Using the state park map, and hiking clockwise, follow the Falls Cut Off, Jessie Gerard, Charles Pack, Agnes Bowen, and Robert Ross trails for a 5-mile loop. (To reach the swamp, take a side trail off Charles Pack where it crosses Beaver Brook for the second time.) Take water and snacks. Pets on a leash are permitted.

Parking: East River Road, Barkhamsted (GPS: 41.942672, -73.007466).

Bear Mountain, Salisbury

In Mount Riga State Park, climb to Connecticut’s highest summit (though not our highest point!) and some of the biggest views in the state – an ascent through hardwood and conifer forest, culminating in a scramble up Bear Mountain’s north side. Follow the Undermountain Trail uphill for 1.1 miles, then turn onto aptly named Paradise Lane Trail. Follow Paradise Lane to the Appalachian Trail. Take the Appalacian Trail south over Bear Mountain and down the other side. At Riga Junction, turn onto the Undermountain Trail to return to the parking area. Dogs under their owner’s control are permitted. Take food, water, and an extra layer of clothing. This is a strenuous 6- to 7-mile loop.

Parking: Route 41, 3 miles north of Salisbury (GPS: 42.028746, -73.428674).

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