September in New England means it’s almost fall foliage season! While you’re taking in the last days of warm summer temperatures, it’s the perfect time to start planning a getaway to view the spectacular autumn colors. In the northwest corner of Connecticut, we’ll start seeing color at the end of September, and nature’s color show will get more and more vibrant throughout October. Here are some of the best places to view fall foliage by foot or by bicycle.
Fall Foliage Hikes
New England hiking trails are bustling with leaf peepers in the fall. But we prefer the quieter hiking trails that showcase the beautiful fall colors without the crowds found at many of the better known parks. Here are a few of our favorites:
There’s no better place to view fall foliage than the 360 degree view from the tower at the top of Haystack Mountain. At more than 1,700 feet, Haystack Mountain is one of Connecticut’s highest peaks. The historic stone tower at the top provides views of mountain peaks in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont. Hikers can either take a longer trail with a gradual incline from the park entrance (~1.5 miles) or drive up to a small parking area and hike just ½ mile up to the tower. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view no matter which hike you choose.
Dennis Hill is a 240-acre estate that was gifted to Connecticut in 1935 by Dr. Frederick Shepard Dennis, a noted New York surgeon. The stone pavilion at the summit, formerly the doctor’s summer residence, sits at an elevation of just over 1,600 feet and offers incredible views. It’s a ¾ mile hike to the top from the park entrance and non-hikers can drive all the way up to the pavilion. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the spectacular view.
Campbell Falls is another not-to-be-missed fall hike. The trail begins on a fern-lined forest path which crosses into Massachusetts just before you reach the 100ft waterfall.
Fall Foliage Bike Routes
Housatonic Covered Bridge Trail
The Housatonic Covered Bridge Trail is a scenic bicycle route that offers views of farmland and countryside, covered bridges and the Housatonic River. The 45-mile Connecticut route from Canaan to New Milford is broken down into 10-mile map segments so you can choose where and how much you’d like to ride.
Tour de Forest
Norfolk is also pleased to present its first annual Tour de Forest on Saturday, October 27. This 12-mile bike ride will snake through Norfolk’s pristine Great Mountain Forest past Wangum Lake and will offer participants an up close view of the changing seasons. There will be educational stops along the way to allow bikers to learn more about the unique natural characteristics of the area.
The Tour de Forest will raise funds to continue Norfolk’s rail trail, which runs along the railbed of the Central New England Railroad route that went from Hartford to Canaan in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visitors from New York and New England escaped to Norfolk in the summer and winter during this time period and the railway was the main mode of transportation. The “Mountain Express” was the premiere passenger train on the line and was the railroad’s only train with a parlor car, allowing passengers to travel in style.
The northwest corner of Connecticut can’t be missed in the fall and the Manor House Inn is the perfect spot for an autumn escape. Spectacular fall colors, cozy fireplaces, New England charm and warm hospitality will ensure a memorable trip.