The Connecticut Hiking Guide


Nothing beats a good day in the woods. To showcase all that Connecticut and nearby Rhode Island have to offer the outdoor enthusiast, The Day has created this online hiking guide.Looking for a quick romp? A challenging hike? A hidden gem? There’s something here for everyone, and trails offer a variety of woodland, river, marsh and shoreline scenery.

Select a town:

TheDay.com Hiking Guide Map

Colchester

Day Pond State Park & Salmon River State Forest

Day Pond State Park & Salmon River State ForestThe blue-blazed Salmon River Trail, maintained by Connecticut Forest and Park Association volunteers, starts in Day pond State Park then enters the 6,000-acre Salmon River State Forest. Hiking is mostly easy to moderate, and passes by an interesting old stone foundation.

East Haddam

Burnham Brook Preserve

Burnham Brook PreserveBirds, brooks, bright orange mushrooms. You'll find them all at the 1,122-acre Burnham Brook Preserve, just a stone's throw away from Devil's Hopyard. The blue trail is well marked, narrow and at times overgrown with fern. Wear study shoes to ensure solid footing as you cross Burnham and Strong brooks.

Darling Road and Winslow Preserves

Darling Road and Winslow PreservesTwo adjacent preserves in the Eightmile River watershed. Darling Road Preserve is 101 acres of rocky woodland traversed by stone walls and seasonal streams and wetlands. Hike is easy-to-moderate with an extended uphill section not far from the beginning of the trail off Darling Road

Devil's Hopyard State Park

Devil's Hopyard State ParkThe park includes a number of trails ranging in length and difficulty; be sure to consult map. Natural features include Chapman Falls; boulders; scenic overlook; streams; flora and fauna.

Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle State ParkShort but often steep trails leave from the parking lot and from the castle. One trail with stairs leads down to the Connecticut River and Chester-Hadlyme Ferry. The park is situated at the southernmost hill in a chain known as the Seven Sisters. Breathtaking views of the Connecticut River from the castle.

East Hampton

A day down by the river at Hurd State Park

A day down by the river at Hurd State ParkThey say it's the journey and not the destination that counts, but when the destination is the banks of the Connecticut River, the old adage becomes a win-win for hikers.

Day Pond State Park & Salmon River State Forest

Day Pond State Park & Salmon River State ForestThe blue-blazed Salmon River Trail, maintained by Connecticut Forest and Park Association volunteers, starts in Day pond State Park then enters the 6,000-acre Salmon River State Forest. Hiking is mostly easy to moderate, and passes by an interesting old stone foundation.

East Lyme

Nehantic State Forest/East Lyme section

Nehantic State Forest/East Lyme section1,900 acres traversed by Park Road, a dirt road suitable for hiking or mountain biking. Park is on both sides of Grassy Hill Road. From south side, dirt road of roughly one mile heads almost due south to edge of Powers Lake.

Oswegatchie Hills

Oswegatchie HillsThe preserve is largely comprised of two major rock ridges running north and south; between the ridges is the ravine gouged out by glaciers. Several trails of various lengths, the longest of which is about 3 miles and moderately strenuous and hilly in spots.

Raven's Woods

Raven's WoodsRaven's Woods is 22 acres of woods that sits along the Pattagansett Rier as it flows south near Giant's Neck. The main trail is about a half mile out and back and is generally wide with good footing. There are two side paths that branch off of the main trail.

Rocky Neck State Park

Rocky Neck State Park Three main trails - red, blue, and white - of mostly easy terrain. Fee charged at main entrance from Memorial Day - Labor Day; no fees to enter from trailhead.

Essex

Falls River Preserve

Falls River Preserve40 acres of forest, trails and rock that juts into Mill Pond on the Falls River in Ivoryton, a section of Essex.

Turtle Creek Preserve

Turtle Creek Preserve Dorothy S. Bowles, wife of former Connecticut Governor Chester Bowles Sr., donated 89 acres of this 93-acre preserve. Explore the creek - which runs between the Connecticut River and Deitsch's Pond - by canoe and kayak, or observe the forest by foot along a well-established mile-long trail loop. Hikers will go past the shores of South Cove in Essex.

Franklin

Ayer's Gap

Ayer's GapAyer's Gap is an 80-acre, rugged parcel with rock outcrops and waterfalls. It takes about 25 minutes at a moderate speed to reach the first waterfall; about 50 minutes to one hour to reach the second. The white-blazed trail, which follows the spine of a ridge, starts just to the right of the preserve sign on Route 207.

Griswold

Hopeville Pond State Park

Hopeville Pond State Park The 550-acre park, located around a popular swimming and fishing pond, is also the northern end of the 13-mile Nehantic Trail, one of the blue-blazed network maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association volunteers.

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman Area

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman AreaThe H.H. Chapman Area is one of the main sections of the 24,000-acre Pachaug Forest, the state's largest. Sections of the blue-blazed Nehantic, Pachaug and Quinnebaug trails, maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association volunteers, pass through this area.

The Nehantic Trail

The Nehantic TrailThirteen miles of blue-blazed trail maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association connects three state-owned areas. Most of the trail is in Pachaug State Forest, but there are a couple of sections that follow forest roads, one stretch along Route 49 and a couple on easements over private land.

Groton

Beebe Pond Park

Beebe Pond ParkBeebe Pond Park encompasses 97 acres of woodlands with a salt pond, remnants of an old mill, stone walls, swamp and stream. Trails are easy to moderate. Many rock outcrops, ledges and large glacial boulders are found throughout property.

Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve

Bluff Point State Park and Coastal ReserveBluff 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.

Haley Farm State Park

Haley Farm State ParkThis 267-acre park is popular among bicyclists and dog walkers alike. Bicyclists can take advantage of both the 0.8-mile bike trail on the property or take the bridge over the railroad tracks to get to Bluff Point State Park.

Mortimer Wright

Mortimer WrightAn 88-acre property owned by the town, this wide, unmarked trail is a former road, leading to a horse farm on private property. The flat trail is out-and-back, about .4 miles each way and would be an easy walk for children.

Pequot Woods

Pequot WoodsPequot Woods encompasses 140 acres, with more than two miles of marked trails through woodlands and wetlands. Visitors will pass stone walls, streams and a pond with beaver dams and lodge.

Sheep Farm

Sheep FarmThe 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 and the Samuel Edgecomb House.

Killingworth

Chatfield Hollow State Park

Chatfield Hollow State ParkThe trip to get to Chatfield Hollow along the picturesque Route 80 corridor is reason enough to visit. Once you get there, numerous blazed hiking trails offer varying degrees of exercise, and a paved loop is ideal for dog-walkers and families.

Ledyard

Avery Preserve

Avery PreserveThe 1 1/2 mile orange loop trail is a well-marked, easy trail, with several interesting features to explore, including an old sheep-washing pen and the beautiful cascades at Mill Pond Dam. The white and yellow inner trails offer some variety for shorter loop hikes.

Kettlehole Trail

Kettlehole TrailA kettlehole is created when a receding glacier leaves behind a large chunk of ice. The ice then melts, leaving a depression in the ground. Kettleholes commonly became bogs or ponds, but this location is an rare example of a dry kettlehole.

Ledyard Glacial Park

Ledyard Glacial ParkA 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.

Pine Swamp Wildlife Corridor

Pine Swamp Wildlife CorridorThere are four marked trails through about 325 acres of wetlands, shrub and forest habitats. The area includes the aquifer for a water system that serves 800 homes.

Poquetanuck Cove Preserve

Poquetanuck Cove Preserve234-acre preserve with 1.5-mile marked easy-to-moderate trail. There is one steep section leading towards the cove that can be slippery after rainfall. This property was donated to the conservancy in 1988 by Desire Parker.

Stoddard Hill State Park

Stoddard Hill State ParkStoddard Hill, a 55-acre park in Ledyard, may be called a state park, but it's clear the trail system has seen better days. Still, the park is beautiful, with little surprises along the way, including an old family cemetery enclosed with a rock wall.

The Pequot Trail

The Pequot TrailThe 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.

Lyme

Chestnut Hill Preserve

Chestnut Hill PreserveThis 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.

Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle State ParkShort but often steep trails leave from the parking lot and from the castle. One trail with stairs leads down to the Connecticut River and Chester-Hadlyme Ferry. The park is situated at the southernmost hill in a chain known as the Seven Sisters. Breathtaking views of the Connecticut River from the castle.

Hartman Park

Hartman ParkMore than 300 acres with about 10 miles of trails through woodlands, fields and wetlands. Archeological sites dating from Colonial times can be found throughout the park.

Nehantic State Forest/Lyme section

Nehantic State Forest/Lyme sectionA 4.5-mile network of blue-blazed trails maintained by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association. Three-mile blue Nayantaquit Trail and several shorter trails. Also a network of unblazed trails and gravel forest roads.

Pleasant Valley Preserve/Jewett Preserve

Pleasant Valley Preserve/Jewett PreserveGreen loop trail is the longest, about 2.5 to 2.75 miles. Lower part of trail is flat and wide. After about a mile, it becomes narrow, hillier and packed with dense vegetation. Red Trail is an easy, short path to the Eightmile River.

River to Ridgetop Preserves

River to Ridgetop PreservesFive contiguous preserves totaling more than 1,200 acres. More than 12 miles of interconnecting trails can be accessed by starting at any one of the entrances to Mount Archer Woods, Eno Preserve, Pickwick's Preserve, Jewett Preserve and Pleasant Valley Preserve. Most trails easy to moderate, some uphill portions especially in Jewett and Mount Archer.

Roaring Brook Preserve

Roaring Brook PreserveRufus Barringer Interpretive Trail is a loop of about .73 miles with numbered markers that correspond to natural features described in brochure available on Lyme Land Conservation Trust Web site.

Selden Creek Preserve & The Ravine Trail

Selden Creek Preserve & The Ravine TrailMore than two miles of easy-to-moderate trails in Selden Creek through wooded hills that overlook freshwater tidal marshes on the Connecticut River. Ravine Trail is about a mile, moderate difficulty.

Walbridge Woodlands and Philip E. Young Memorial Preserve

Walbridge Woodlands and Philip E. Young Memorial Preserve 128 acres of mixed hardwood forest in two contiguous preserves with connecting trails that also link to trails in 300-acre Hartman Park. Walbridge trails are easy to moderate, with stone walls and wetlands throughout. Loop trail through Young preserve starts on a steep climb that leads to a short overlook trail.

Madison

Hammonasset Beach State Park

Hammonasset Beach State ParkHammonasset Beach State Park in Madison might as well be on two separate planets between seasons.

Montville

Camp Oakdale

Camp OakdaleA 141.35-acre town park in the Oakdale section of Montville. At the Meeting House Lane entrance there are athletic fields (football, baseball, softball, basketball and soccer) and four hiking trails, including one with designated fitness stations.

Montville Conservation Center

Montville Conservation CenterA 42.84-acre preserve located on the backside of the former Fair Oaks School property. The property includes a small pond with a resident beaver, a few bat houses and ample flora and fauna. It is used often by high school athletes as a place to run.

New London

Alewife Cove Nature Walk

Alewife Cove Nature WalkNature trail is part of the 50-acre park at Ocean Beach. It's a short though pleasant and easy path through dunes and along Alewife Cove to where it meets Long Island Sound. Often used for youth environmental education lessons.

Connecticut College Arboretum

Connecticut College ArboretumMore than 100 acres with marked, mostly flat trails through various natural and landscaped habitats, plus collections of holly, conifers and flowering shrubs and laurel and other types. The wildflower garden is especially lovely in the springtime.

North Stonington

Hewitt Farm

Hewitt FarmThe 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, which is formed by the Hewitt Dam and was damaged in the March 2010 floods.

Lantern Hill

Lantern HillOf all the hikes in this region, this is probably one of the most interesting. Note that the entrance isn't marked with a sign. Once you walk up the first short hill, though, you'll find a sign marking the "start of Lantern Hill Trail Loop." You can take the steeper trail up or opt for the 30-minute hike along the rim of the hill, which will more gradually take you to the 491-foot summit.

Narragansett Trail

Narragansett TrailThe 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.

Pachaug State Forest - Green Falls Area

Pachaug State Forest  - Green Falls AreaThis area of the state's largest forest has Narragansett, Nehantic and Pachaug trails trail sections, part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association's blue-blazed trail system.

Norwich

Norwich Heritage Walk

Norwich Heritage WalkThe 1.5-mile trail runs from Howard T. Brown Memorial Park along the Yantic River to Uncas Leap and continues another quarter of a mile to Upper Falls Park.

Old Lyme

Ames Preserve

Ames PreserveThe three or four trails at Ames Preserve provide a variety of options for a 30-minute hike through the woods. There is a large bog on the property and plenty of small bodies of water – including the Bucky Brook – that at times will require hikers to leap or walk over carefully arranged tree trunks and wooden board.

Bartholomew Preserve

Bartholomew PreserveAn easy loop trail of about a half mile through a nature preserve. A bog bisects the property and a large flock of turkeys lives in the area.

Champlain South

Champlain SouthNumerous trails are at least a mile long each and loop around the property. Trails are generally well marked, some steep inclines and declines. Property has old stone walls. Car traffic audible in northern portion of property, which abuts I-95.

Elizabeth Karter Watch Rock Nature Preserve

Elizabeth Karter Watch Rock Nature PreserveThe 25-acre nature preserve where the Duck River enters the Connecticut River includes wide, flat, easy trails. A loop can be completed in about 20 minutes at a brisk pace, or can include more criss-crossing and exploring.

George & Woodward H. Griswold Preserve

George & Woodward H. Griswold Preserve There are multiple entrances to the 51-acre preserve. Trails lead to the Lower Mill Pond Fish Ladder. The yellow trail is narrow and bumpy. The red trail is wide and flat. The shortest loop takes about 20 minutes. Car traffic is audible.

Griswold Point

Griswold PointFrom White Sands to the end of Griswold Point is just over a mile, easy walk mostly along the beach. Walk along the beach til path turns onto a right-of-way across a field. Sign for entrance to Griswold Point, a 25-acre site, is at end of field.

Lay Property

Lay PropertyThere are at least two loop trails – an orange and a blue – on the property. At 185 acres, it's not the largest of the hiking trails in Old Lyme, but tucked away behind a yet-undeveloped subdivision off Route 1, being at the Lay property can make you feel like you're miles away from civilization.

Lohmann-Buck-Twining Preserve

Lohmann-Buck-Twining PreserveLoop trail of about 1 mile; some steep, rugged terraine. Though it takes only about an hour, this is an interesting hike in what feels like an isolated patch of woodland along the Lieutenant River to a spectacular ridge where Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River are visible.

Old Saybrook

Clark Community Park

Clark Community ParkClark Community Park has a little bit of everything for everyone. There are ball fields for summer fun as well as a small lake, stream and a fish ladder to aid the migration of spawning fish. Visitors can walk around and beyond the perimeter of the ball fields or hike the three trails.

Great Cedars (West) Conservation Area

Great Cedars (West) Conservation AreaGreat Cedars is a 320-acre property with about 1.5 miles of trails through woodlands and along the shores of Lake Rockview and a cedar swamp. It is located a short distance off I-95, which is visible from the trail across Lake Rockview.

Turtle Creek Preserve

Turtle Creek Preserve Dorothy S. Bowles, wife of former Connecticut Governor Chester Bowles Sr., donated 89 acres of this 93-acre preserve. Explore the creek - which runs between the Connecticut River and Deitsch's Pond - by canoe and kayak, or observe the forest by foot along a well-established mile-long trail loop. Hikers will go past the shores of South Cove in Essex.

Plainfield

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman Area

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman AreaThe H.H. Chapman Area is one of the main sections of the 24,000-acre Pachaug Forest, the state's largest. Sections of the blue-blazed Nehantic, Pachaug and Quinnebaug trails, maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association volunteers, pass through this area.

Preston

The Pequot Trail

The Pequot TrailThe 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.

Salem

Darling Road and Winslow Preserves

Darling Road and Winslow PreservesTwo adjacent preserves in the Eightmile River watershed. Darling Road Preserve is 101 acres of rocky woodland traversed by stone walls and seasonal streams and wetlands. Hike is easy-to-moderate with an extended uphill section not far from the beginning of the trail off Darling Road

Walden Preserve

Walden PreserveThe preserve includes 400 acres of fields, young forest, wetlands and streams with marked trails. The main trail is relatively flat, wide and easy; side trails are moderately difficult and can be steep and narrow in spots.

Zemko Pond Wildlife Management Area

Zemko Pond Wildlife Management AreaThe area includes 464 acres with a pond, fields, early successional woodlands and mixed hardwood forest, wetlands and beaver dams. A dirt road from the left of the parking lot takes visitors on an easy walk past fields and through woodlands to the picturesque pond.

Stonington

Barn Island Wildlife Management Area

Barn Island Wildlife Management AreaBarn Island contains more than 1,000 acres of saltmarshes and freshwater marshes, hardwood forests, old fields traversed by stone walls and grasslands. Mostly flat, wide three-mile main loop trail and side trails are suitable for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing.

Hoffman Preserve

Hoffman PreserveThe 198-acre Hoffman Preserve, tucked in the northwest corner of Stonington, recently became the largest of the Avalonia Land Conservancy's holdings.

Knox Preserve

Knox PreserveThis small but significant area attracts dozens of migratory bird species in spring and fall, as well as birds that nest there in the spring and summer. A variety of habitats attract songbirds, ground-nesting birds, hawks and shorebirds.

Paffard Woods

Paffard WoodsA blue-blazed trail affords mostly easy hiking through 62-acres of woodlands and wetlands interspersed with stone walls.

Voluntown

Narragansett Trail

Narragansett TrailThe 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.

Pachaug State Forest - Green Falls Area

Pachaug State Forest  - Green Falls AreaThis area of the state's largest forest has Narragansett, Nehantic and Pachaug trails trail sections, part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association's blue-blazed trail system.

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman Area

Pachaug State Forest - H.H. Chapman AreaThe H.H. Chapman Area is one of the main sections of the 24,000-acre Pachaug Forest, the state's largest. Sections of the blue-blazed Nehantic, Pachaug and Quinnebaug trails, maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association volunteers, pass through this area.

The Nehantic Trail

The Nehantic TrailThirteen miles of blue-blazed trail maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association connects three state-owned areas. Most of the trail is in Pachaug State Forest, but there are a couple of sections that follow forest roads, one stretch along Route 49 and a couple on easements over private land.

Waterford

Avery Tract

Avery TractThis mixed hardwood forest of roughly 100 acres is near the banks of the Thames River just north of Smith Cove. The first section of marked trails through the property passes behind a large condominium complex.

Harkness Memorial State Park

Harkness Memorial State ParkThe park's expansive lawns are dotted with shade trees and picnic tables. A short paved path leads down to a small sandy beach, which is a popular spot for surf-cast fishing. A grass and gravel path runs around the perimeter of the lawns.

Mamacoke Island

Mamacoke IslandMamacoke Island is a 40-acre island with a trail that is surprisingly diverse, challenging and untouched. The trail around the island travels up and down hills, through sand flats, and rewards the hiker with some phenomenal views of the Thames River and surrounding area.

Stenger Farm Park

Stenger Farm ParkThe 95-acre property is just up the street from a busy intersection that is home to, among other things, the Stop & Shop shopping plaza in Waterford. But walk into what was once a dairy farm and you'll leave behind all the traffic noise and bustle of suburban life.

Westbrook

Messerschmidt Pond Wildlife Management Area

Messerschmidt Pond Wildlife Management Area73 acres of fresh water surrounded by mixed hardwood forest; features car-top, carry-in boat launch for fishing, kayaking or leisurely paddling. According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the pond is an artificial impoundment of the Falls River

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife RefugeConnecticut's first National Wildlife Refuge. According to its website, the refuge was established "to protect feeding, nesting and resting habitat for migratory birds, to encourage natural diversity of fish and wildlife species and to provide environmental education opportunities for the public."

Rhode Island

Charlestown

Find refuge and adventure at Ninigret Pond

Find refuge and adventure at Ninigret PondTwo trails within minutes of each other offer two ways to experience the 1,500-acre Ninigret Pond, a salt pond with the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Charlestown, R.I., that wends its way along scenic points, inlets and coves.