The beautiful and historic Litchfield Hills are a pleasure to visit year-round, but Autumn may be the peak season for enjoying the region’s abundance of hiking trails. Here’s the scoop on some of our favorite walks for taking in the brilliant fall foliage, observing the wildlife, and communing with nature.
White Memorial Foundation has 4,000 acres of preserves in Litchfield and Morris with 40 miles of trails. The most popular is the Little Pond Boardwalk Trail, an elevated 1.2-mile boardwalk around Little Pond. Another gem is the trail leading up to Apple Hill in Morris, where’s there’s a viewing platform that offers a panoramic view of Bantam Lake and the mountains to the west/southwest.
The preserves are anchored by a conservation center and nature museum, and White Memorial offers a series of guided hikes and many other events. Head to the website for the calendar, info on the nature museum, and trail maps.
Topsmead State Forest is a 510-acre gem with hiking trails that traverse open meadows and woodlands. The property was once the summer home of Edith Morton Chase, and her English Tudor style cottage is open for free tours on the 2nd and 4th weekends of each month, June through Columbus Day. See the website to connect.
Mt. Tom State Park, located off Route 202 on the southwest edge of Litchfield, is a summer haven with a beach, swimming area, boat launch, and picnic tables. There’s also a great all-season hike up to a stone tower with panoramic western views. Trail maps are on the website.
The Litchfield Hills Audubon Society’s Boyd Woods Sanctuary is a hidden gem located on Route 254, east of Litchfield center. More than four miles of trails cover the 106-acre sanctuary along Wigwam Brook, with benches in key spots for observing the wildlife. Details and a trails map are on the website.
Litchfield Land Trust Preserves include the Medicine Rock Trail on the Upper Bantam Preserve, just minutes from Litchfield center, and the 340-acre Prospect Mountain Preserve with 4.3 miles of trails and summit views to the west/southwest, among others. Connect with the preserves on the Trust’s website.
Camp Columbia State Park and Forest in Morris was once home to Columbia University’s engineering summer camp. There’s a short walk to a stone observation tower and other trails. Here’s the website with a trails map.
The Steep Rock Association has several large preserves in Washington. The 998-acre Steep Rock Preserve and nearby 700-acre Hidden Valley have trails alongside the Shepaug River. The Macricostas Preserve has a trail leading to a pinnacle high above Lake Waramaug. See the Association’s websitefor info and maps.
Also don’t miss The Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy in Litchfield, founded by
S. Dillon Ripley, a former Secretary of the Smithsonian. It’s home to more 80 species of birds from around the world, a breeding facility for rare species, an education center for conservationists, and a great discovery experience. Info on visiting is on the website.