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Connecticut is one of the top places in New England for leaf peeping because the fall colors really come out in the state parks and forests, as well as the quaint towns nearby. In Connecticut, the bright oranges, reds, and yellows start appearing in late September but really peak in mid-October. During most seasons, the colors linger through early November, but you don’t want to delay making trip plans for the most scenic hikes, bike rides, and drives.
To help you plan your route, here are the best places for fall foliage in Connecticut.
With its 165-foot tower and excellent views of the Farmington River Valley, Talcott Mountain State Park is a lovely place to visit in the fall. One of the best ways to visit this park is to hike the trail to the ridge and Heublein Tower, which is about a 1.25-mile distance. While you are in this area of Connecticut, also make sure to see the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge, which has a pedestrian and bike path. Flamig Farm is located in West Simsbury and offers lots of opportunities for fall fun, such as the Haunted Walk Through for some spooky yet family-friendly fun.
One of the best Connecticut towns to visit for fall foliage is Norfolk, which is in the northwestern corner of Connecticut. It is beautiful in the fall and has several state parks nearby for fall hiking: Haystack Mountain State Park, Campbell Falls State Park, and Dennis Hill State Park. If you’re looking for a scenic drive in this area, you can travel a 58-mile route from Torrington to Norfolk and through People’s State Forest. Fall events in this area are the annual Haystack Mountain Challenge, Haystack Book Talks, and Black Bear Americana Music Fest.
Mystic, Connecticut is a charming waterfront town with lots of fun shops and restaurants to visit. The fall colors really brighten up the town during this time of the year. A fun fall event that takes place here is the annual Witch Paddle & Coat Drive on the Mystic River, which is typically held in mid-October. It’s also worth visiting B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill, which is the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the U.S. and opens its doors starting each September to serve sweet cider, hard cider, cider doughnuts, and more. A great scenic drive for fall is the six-mile route along the Mystic River and that offers views of the Mystic Seaport.
Located near the city of Goshen, Connecticut, Mohawk State Forest is a prime place to see fall foliage in Connecticut. The Mattatuck and Mohawk hiking trails will give you great views of the Catskills, Berkshires, and Taconic mountain ranges. Picnicking and pond and stream fishing are popular activities to do here. The park does not have individual campsites but does have youth group camping available.
One of the best fall foliage drives in Connecticut starts in Granby, which is about 20 miles northwest of Hartford. The drive goes from here to Goshen and can include stops at Holcomb Farm, the Riverton General Store, and Thorncrest Farm. This beautiful countryside town is a great home base for exploring Enders State Forest and Enders Falls, the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine, and the Old Mill Pond Village. There are also some great vineyards to visit here, including Brignole Vineyards and Lost Acres Vineyard. Head over to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail for a scenic bike ride in the fall.
Many people travel to Litchfield to have picnics in the fall and visit the organic farmstands. It’s also fun to visit Bunnell Farm in Litchfield to pick your perfect pumpkin and go through the corn maze. There are many hiking options in the Litchfield area of Connecticut, including Mount Tom State Park and the White Memorial Preserve. Stop by the Litchfield Distillery to sample local spirits, and head over to nearby New Preston to see the scenic Lake Waramaug that is surrounded by fall colors.
You can also visit Shenipsit State Forest when you’re looking for colorful fall foliage and hike the Shenipsit Trail to get to the top of Soapstone Mountain. There is an observation tower here that offers excellent views of the park. The forest is made up of 11 parcels of land that are spread over 7,000 acres. Besides hiking, other popular things to do in the park are fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and picnicking.
East Haddam, Connecticut, is a colorful place to visit in the fall, especially when you make a day trip to Devil’s Hopyard State Park to see the waterfalls and brooks. Gillette Castle typically offers tours but is closed this fall for renovations. However, the hiking trails in this park are still open from 8am to sunset. You’ll also want to plan to ride on the historic Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, which offers a short ride and lots of photo opportunities. Other things to check out during your trip to East Haddam are the Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam Swing Bridge, and Nathan Hale Schoolhouse.
New Fairfield is a small Connecticut town that is more of a low-key fall foliage destination. It is less busy than many of the other places listed here during the fall season, so come here if you’re looking for fall colors with fewer crowds. Sqantz Pond State Park is located here and filled with trails that lead to rocky overlooks. The New Fairfield Food Center is a family-owned grocery store that’s great for grabbing a bite to eat. You can take a drive from here along Route 37 to Danbury and check out the scenic trails and even more fall foliage at Tarrywile Park and the historic Tarrywile Mansion.
Located in northwestern Connecticut, Kent is a quintessential New England town with plenty of opportunities for fall foliage viewing. It’s easy to make Kent your home base as you go out to see covered bridges, waterfalls, and the rolling Litchfield Hills. Bull’s Bridge is in this area and a scenic, covered bridge with a parking area nearby to snap some photos. Kent is also a great place to check out antique stores and farmstands. There’s a loop drive that is about 46 miles long and takes you through Kent, New Milford, and Mount Tom State Park for a scenic fall route.
Another fall foliage option is Middlefield, Connecticut, which is home to Lyman Orchards. This is a wonderful fall destination for apple picking and has been named one of the top places to pick your own apples in the U.S. The orchard also offers a year-round golf course, farm market, award-winning pies, corn and sunflower mazes, and family-friendly events. The Lyman Orchards Golf Club and Mattabesett Trail are top things to do in this area. The town of Meridian is also close by, with Hubbard Park and Castle Craig as top local spots to visit.
New Haven is a larger coastal city in Connecticut that is home to Yale University. This area is great to visit in the fall to go apple-picking at Bishop’s Orchards and go for fall hikes at East Rock Park or Sleeping Giant State Park. Bishop’s Orchards also offers pumpkin pitching, hay and corn mazes, and lots of produce and bakery treats for sale. There’s a corn maze at Rose Orchard’s Farm and haunted destinations to get you in the mood for Halloween. Stop by the roadside stand or farm at Clover Nook Farm for fresh fruits and vegetables in the fall. A great scenic drive to do in the New Haven area goes from Essex to Guilford on a 35-mile shoreline loop drive with a stop at Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Head to the lower Connecticut River Valley to visit Essex, Connecticut during the fall. You can get great views from the Chester-Hadlyme ferry and take a ride on the Essex Steam Trail and Riverboat for more leaf-peeping. The Essex Steam Trail and Riverboat offers 2.5-hour train and riverboat rides and also one-hour train journeys that start at the historic Essex Station. There are dinner train rides that you can book and also more unique experiences, like the Boos Brews, & BBQ in October and rail bike adventures that take you on an eight-mile, round-trip journey. Also, make sure to allow plenty of time to explore the old colonial center of Essex and visit the Connecticut River Museum.