From an abandoned 20th Century amusement park to bubbling waterfalls, Connecticut boasts many gorgeous and interesting hikes beyond the most popular destinations that become crowded every spring.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is urging hikers to be “bear aware” as the state’s black bear population emerges from a long winter slumber. Learn more here.
Former Courant nature columnist Peter Marteka visited many of the best hiking trails in the state. Here’s a look back at his columns to give you some ideas for getting outdoors.
Suburban Park, Unionville
Along the 4 miles of trails you’ll find the remnants of an abandoned 20th Century amusement park, glacial kettle holes and the scenic Roaring Brook. Read more here.
American Legion State Forest, Barkhamsted
There are a pair of trails in American Legion State Forest - Henry Buck and Turkey Vulture Ledges. The Henry Buck trail is a 2.3-mile loop while the Turkey Vulture is a mile-long out and back path. Read more.
Black Rock State Park, Watertown
The 439-acre Black Rock State Park offers beautiful overlooks. The main hiking trail – the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s blue-blazed Mattatuck Trail – is approximately a half-mile from an iron bridge at the northern end of the pond. It’s a half mile uphill and will give visitors a workout. Read more.
Horse Guard State Park, Avon
Horse Guard State Park Scenic Reserve doesn’t have elaborate trail systems, vast parking lots, websites and detailed maps and facilities. But, it does offer one of the best views in Avon and a respite from large crowds. Read more here.
Sunnybrook State Park, Torrington
Nestled in Torrington, Sunnybrook State Park includes trails that run along the banks of the East Branch of the Naugatuck River. You can read more about the hidden gem in northwest Connecticut here.
Scantic River State Park, Enfield/East Windsor/Somers
The Scantic River State Park encompasses more than 780 acres spread across three towns, but for the purposes of this list, we look specifically at Enfield, where, Scantic River Linear Park West features scenic views of the river, a farm, a forest filled with huge white pines. Read more.
Sprague Land Preserve, Sprague
There are 11-12 miles of trails available in the sprawling Sprague Land Preserve in the eastern part of Connecticut. Read more about this relatively secret patch of land here.
Derby Greenway Trail, Derby
A 1.7-mile paved multiuse path runs along the top of dikes high above the Naugatuck River and Housatonic River. Read more about the path that runs through “Connecticut’s Smallest City” here.
Stoney Lonesome Trail, Norfolk
What better way to avoid crowds than to head to the “Stoney Lonesome” trail high above Norfolk into East Canaan. Read more about a hike through this abandoned railroad bed.
Kensington Orchards Preserve, Berlin
A hike through the Kensington Orchards Preserve in Berlin offers some spectacular views. It also provides the opportunity to hook up with miles of trails in the Chotkowski Conservation Area and Camp Meribrite. Read more here.