Connecticut’s 10 Most Scenic Hiking Trails | Connecticut Explorer

Connecticut is one of the most beautiful states in the United States, with its hills, rocky cliffs and mountains. Many hiking trails in Connecticut feature rushing rivers, beautiful waterfallsand spectacular views.

Whether you are planning a hike this weekend or you just want to get outside more often, we have some of Connecticut’s best hiking trails to try.

We considered several factors, including difficulty level, popularity, and landscape, to come up with our list.

Although trail distances are listed, there are numerous entry points along each trail, and many Connecticut hiking trails connect. So your hike can be short or a weekend.

Connecticut’s 10 Best Scenic Hiking Trails

1. Lion’s Head in Salisbury

Lion’s Head is one of Connecticut’s most scenic hiking trails and offers a great hike for beginners as well as more experienced hikers.

There are several vantage points from which you can view the surrounding area, including Sandy Cove Pond, and if you are lucky you may spot some wildlife.

The view of Litchfield from Lion’s Head is spectacular and if you want even more fun, you can hike to the top of Bear Mountain from this trail system.

Since this straddles the Connecticut portion of the Appalachian Trail, hiking adventures here are in abundance.

Distance: 4.1 miles

Difficulty level: Medium

Map: Lion’s Head Trail

2. Metacomet Trail at Pinnacle Rock

By far the most popular trail in the state is the Metacomet Trail, located in Farmington, CT. It is one of the most scenic hiking trails in its region, offering stunning views, interesting history, and abundant wildlife.

If you’re planning on hiking this beautiful trail, you’re in for a treat. The Metacomet Trail to Pinnacle Rock features some of the most beautiful wildflowers and rock formations in Connecticut.

The trail gets a bit rocky after Rattlesnake Mountain and the terrain is quite steep at Pinnacle Rock. This can be a difficult hiking trail for some, but the views from Pinnacle Rock are absolutely stunning.

Distance: 4.4 miles

Difficulty level: Medium

Map: Metacomet Trail

3. Sleeping Giant State Park Trails

Sleeping Giant State Park 24 great trail options for visitors, the blue and purple loop being the most popular – and the most difficult.

Every trail in the park is well maintained and offers stunning views. The blue and purple loop has scenic rock scrambles and lots of opportunities to dip your feet in the creek.

Some of the trails in this park are rated as easy, while others require you to do a bit of rock climbing.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty level: All (the blue and purple loop is difficult.)

Map: Trails of the Sleeping Giants

4. Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in the world. It stretches approximately 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, crosses 14 states, and offers hikers the opportunity to see some of America’s most beautiful scenery.

Turns out Connecticut has some of the best parts of this trail. This hike offers views of the Ten Mile River and the great Housatonic Falls.

The difficulty of this trail depends on where you enter it and how far you go, although it is widely considered a moderate level hike.

Distance: 53 miles

Difficulty level: Medium

Map: Appalachian Trail – Connecticut

5. Beaver Brook Trail

The Beaver Brook Trail is a great beginner hiking trail in Connecticut. The trail is located in Milford, about an hour’s drive from Hartford. It is easy to get to and has plenty of parking. If you’re looking for a moderate hike close to home, check out this beautiful trail.

This trail has abundant wildlife and a nice boardwalk (featured in the video below) that crosses a creek. This is a great hiking trail for families or people looking for an easy hike.

Distance: 1.2

Difficulty level: Easy

Map: Beaver Creek Trail

6. Zoar Trail

The Zoar Trail is a hidden gem – one of the most beautiful trails in all of New England. It’s also one of Connecticut’s best-kept secrets, despite being only a two-hour drive from Manhattan and Boston.

For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts looking for stunning scenery, this trail is for you. Located in the Paugussett State Forest, this hiking trail offers views of waterfalls, the Housatonic River, and plenty of steep hills and rocks to climb.

Many hikers will recommend that you hike the trail clockwise to finish your hike by the water, which is relaxing after a strenuous hike.

Distance: 6.5 miles

Difficulty level: Hard

Map: Zoar Trail

7. Tunxis Trail in Barkhamsted

The Tunxis Trail is a 34 mile hiking trail that runs from Farmington, CT to Middletown, CT. However, many hikers choose to take the trail to the top of Pine Mountain, which is about 9 miles round trip.

It’s one of Connecticut’s most popular hiking trails—and for good reason. You can see some of Connecticut’s most beautiful sights including the Farmington River, Lake McDonough, and even Mount Frissell.

You will also see a lot of Mountain laurel, a beautiful stream, a field of horses and the Indian Council Cave, which is a popular attraction.

Distance: 34 miles

Difficulty level: Medium

Map: Tunxis Trail

8. Salmon River Trail

Located in Colchester, CT, the Salmon River Trail spans the length of 2 of Connecticut’s state parks, Salmon River State Forest and Day Pond State Park. Aptly named, this trail winds along a path that follows the Salmon River through the eastern part of the state.

This trail offers views of the lake and the famous Comstock Covered Bridge. You will also see some ride a horse along the trail as many in this area enjoy it.

Fishing and swimming is allowed, making it an ideal hiking trail for families – take a short hike and then stop to swim or fish.

Distance: 6.9 miles

Difficulty level: Easy

Map: Salmon River State Forest

9. Bear Mountain Trail

revered by most Nutmeg as one of CT’s best hiking trails, Bear Mountain Trail in Salisbury is a hiker’s dream.

The trail features scenic wooded areas, wildflowers, rushing streams, swampy areas, and waterfalls and takes you to what is considered Connecticut’s highest peak.

This Connecticut hiking trail is quite strenuous and it is recommended that you plan a good half day of hiking when visiting.

If you’re looking to hike to a campsite, there’s one along the trail – just be sure to get campsite information from the visitor center before you start your hike.

Distance: 5.4 miles

Difficulty level: Moderate/difficult

Map: Bear Mountain Trail

10. Mattatuk Trail in Wolcott

If you are planning a hike in the Mattatuck State Forest or just want to explore somewhere new, consider hiking the Mattatuck Trail.

Located in Wolcott, Connecticut, the trail is 12 miles long and takes you from Wolcott to Brophy Pond, although many hikers take the trail up Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall.

This hike includes a walk along the Mad River and experiencing Buttermilk Falls around the 5 mile mark. There are sections of the hike that have you walking on streets, but the trail is well marked and you will be guided into nature.

About halfway through the trail there is a beautiful area where the rocks are covered in brightly colored moss – a photographer’s dream.

Distance: 15.7 miles

Difficulty level: Hard

Map: Mattatuk Trail

There you have it, the best and most beautiful hiking trails in Connecticut. Enjoy!