Fall Foliage Tour in the Litchfield Hills

Kent falls are made of a series of cascades that add up to a 250' drop.

Kent Falls are made of a series of cascades that add up to a 250′ drop. This is just one of the many series that can be seen from a hand full of well-placed viewing platforms.

So, are you up for a fun fall foliage tour this season and would like to take in some picture perfect scenery? Connecticut’s verdant Litchfield Hills may be an excursion for consideration. Despite the fact I’ve called this region my home for nearly four decades, it still amazes me how Father Time seems to have passed over my corner of the state as colonial America is still intact and a viable tourist destination.

Brief Overview

Tucked into the northwest corner of the state, the Litchfield Hills are a charming landscape defined by rounded forested hills and the wide Housatonic River as it flows south from Massachusetts and finds its way to the L.I. Sound. Centuries old farmhouses, rustic barns and stone walls are scattered about while the real treasures teasingly scream explore me despite their seclusion to private property. (That was the subject of my last article titled “Connecticut Etiquette”  — how to gain access to what’s off limits).

Consider Hiding the GPS Upon Arrival, Trust Me

Litchfield Old First Congregational Church_fall foliage_historic_village_quintessential

At the north end of Litchfield’s village green sits the historic First Congregational church. Soft rays of late afternoon sun create long shadows and add some drama.

Before you begin your fall foliage tour a word on GPS vs. a map. Confining your explorations to major thoroughfares like the popular Rte. 7, Rte. 63  and Rte. 202 would be a great loss. GPS works well if you have a specific address as a destination, however I highly suggest to secure a Hagstrom Litchfield County map.  The  journey is far more enjoyable as you pick out a few select side roads.

Two Wonderful State Parks Near Kent

Although you could spend weeks exploring the nooks and crannies of the region, there are a few main points of interest you should consider. Two state parks lie within the boundaries of the tiny hamlet of Kent on the western fringe – Macedonia Brook and Kent Falls. Macedonia offers a more serene visit as the aptly named stream flows gently under a canopy of forest. A 2-hour loop hike with views of the Catskills is well worth the time. Kent Falls just to the north of town along Rte. 7 is a series of cascades that altogether total a 250′ drop. A hiking trail takes you along this series of cascades with several places to view.

Covered bridge Litchfield hills autumn foliage Housatonic River

Spanning the Housatonic, the West Cornwall Covered bridge is just a few minutes south of Canaan near the Massachusetts line. Be prepared to spend some time here to explore.

North on Rte. 7 and The Covered Bridge

A true gem of a covered bridge is awaiting your arrival several miles north along Rte. 7 in the town of West Cornwall. Built in 1837, the bridge is fully operational and spans the Housatonic River. Crossing the bridge will take you to a tiny quintessential village with a few quaint shops and some narrow streets. Great views are attainable with just a bit of effort along the banks of the Housatonic.

country roads Warren Ct fall foliage Lake Waramaug area

The Lake Waramaug vicinity offers much more than a pretty lake. This old farming road had been seen by no more than a few farmers since Warren Ct was settled.

Historic Litchfield on the Green

Rte. 202 tends to dissect the region in half as it heads northeast from New Milford and passes through historic Litchfield.  Along the way a side trip that circles Lake Waramaug near the village of New Preston is quite enjoyable. Historic Litchfield is found at the junctions of Rte. 202 and Rte. 63 and is considered to be one of the best preserved 18th and 19th century villages in all of New England. The green area was created in 1723 and is a great place to park and get out to explore. Don’t miss the First Congregational Church at the north end of the green! You won’t miss it, as its conical bell-tower and steeple soars high above all the surrounding architecture.

Norfolk_Colebrook_rustic_barns_shacks_Litchfield Hills

Exploring the northern tier around Norfolk and Colebrook will uncover hidden gems and serene landscapes.

The North Country of the Litchfield Hills

The main route that travels east-west is Rte. 44 at the northern fringe. The scenic village of Salisbury to the west and the small city of Winsted due east make attractive bookends. Norfolk is an isolated town almost half way between the two and truly offers a unique setting. Norfolk was one of the very first towns to use its country charm and flourish as a summer resort for the wealthy shortly after the manufacturing era declined. If you enjoy seclusion and a dramatic waterfall, make sure to find Campbell Falls State Park on your map! Campbell Falls is the alter ego to the more prolific Kent Falls. You won’t have difficulty finding parking.

Meet the “Bury’s” – Woodbury and Roxbury

Grist Mill Scenic drives fall foliage Connecticut

Nestled along twisty Rte. 133 near Roxbury, you’ll find this gorgeous red grist mill.

Last but not least are the two “Bury’s” as we call them, Woodbury and Roxbury. These are neighboring villages that guard the south flank of the Litchfield Hills region. The major thoroughfares are Rte. 67 and Rte. 317 with a web of back roads that criss-cross the area. On the southwest corner of Roxbury lies the tiniest of hamlets called Bridgewater. Scenic Rte. 133 winds its way under a canopy of dense autumn foliage and towering Hemlocks. Eventually you will pass by the iconic Red Mill and waterwheel. Safe parking is located at the Lillinonah bridge, and you can walk back on a path along the road about a half mile to view the mill.

Tom Schoeller ~ NEP Guild

www.ThomasSchoellerphotography.com

For Fine Art Prints/Canvas/Metal Prints/Acrylic’s visit www.Thomas-Schoeller.Artistwebsites.com

Tom teaches entry-level to D-SLR courses at his Warren, CT, studio. Please visit his home page link for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Nancy de Flon September 21, 2013 at 18:53 #

    Thank you, Tom, for this detailed information. I’ve often thought of the Litchfield area for my foliage trip; as New England goes, it’s not that far from where I live in the Hudson Valley. Maybe this is the year!

    • thomas Schoeller September 22, 2013 at 09:28 #

      Your welcome Nancy. I’m sure you’ll find it enjoyable. You’re location is quite an advantage since your a relatively short drive to the Catskills due west and both the Litchfield Hills and Berkshires east.

  2. John Vose September 22, 2013 at 19:10 #

    Excellent article Tom. As we discussed, I’ve “seen” many of these locations, but haven’t truly SEEN” them…. Thanks for showing them to me !

  3. Sonali September 24, 2014 at 16:39 #

    Hi Tom,

    I am fascinated by all your images of autumn in Litchfield and I’m planning to take a trip there this Columbus day weekend. In preparation, could you please tell me a couple places like the road featured in the fourth image here in this article that might be easily accessible? We would like to walk around see the leaves and spot a couple red barns if possible — something to that end! You seem so prolific with all the information about Litchfield that isn’t presented outright in “travel guides” so I would really love to hear your opinion/recommendation!

    Thanks in advance,
    Sonali

    • Thomas Schoeller September 24, 2014 at 19:29 #

      Hi Sonali, I’m thrilled you really enjoyed the article and the images I decided to use to represent the scenic ‘Litchfield hills” region of Connecticut. I’ve tossed around the concept of writing a detailed touristic guide to the region and great places to photograph. I would need a suitor interested in publishing a guide book such as this. The books I’ve seen reveal very little passion for the area and are made up of “stock” photo snapshots.

      Being a local photographer to the region, and enjoying the status as a well known and published artist in these parts I tend to enjoy occasional perks thrown my way. Of those perks, I have made some wonderful connections to gain access to private properties and large estates. The “fourth” photo of the old dirt road winding through the fall foliage happens to be a seldom used access road to some back lots owned by Warren Connecticut’s “Tanner Family” near the Jct of Rte 45 and 341. I would often pass by the scene from the roadway and wonder what it may look like about 1/2 mile in and looking back. One day three years ago I decided to stop and ask permission to explore. The older gentleman I spoke with had little use for art, however after 15 minutes of proposing my interest in preserving the bucolic and verdant nature of western Connecticut’s scenery I was granted an “all right, I guess it would be OK”. With that, I took it upon myself to stop by frequently and plan out a nice time to photograph.

      Red barns are abundant! I highly recommend exploring the countryside between the main travel routes of Rte 7 (west side) and Rte 202 (east border). Rte 341 and 45 are wonderful. I also think from the West Cornwall Covered Bridge travel east on Rte 128 where it joins up with Rte 63 and Rte 4. Just west of Torrington is Rte 272 which travels north/south. At the north end, 272 will bring you right to Campbell falls State park and numerous country roads to drive down and explore.

      Lastly, Lake Waramaug is a highly scenic area I think anyone might enjoy. There is a loop road that navigates the entire lake and offers numerous places to pull off such as the state park. “Kent Hollow Road” connects the west side of the lake up to Rte 341 in Kent. You’ll find many red barns and other beautifully rustic scenes to soak in!

      Enjoy your trip!
      ~Thomas Schoeller

  4. Sonali September 25, 2014 at 10:12 #

    Thanks Tom! That was a wonderfully detailed response. We will be travelling from Norwalk so I think this should be a fairly easy day trip! I’m hoping to use my polaroid to get some nice shots.

    I do hope you get to writing that book at some point. I’d definitely purchase it!

    • Thomas Schoeller September 25, 2014 at 21:14 #

      Your welcome. I think you’ll enjoy your day trip. I’m noticing the foliage change take place at a rapid pace this year, very unusual. Noticable changes within single days. A week ago it was “August green”. I’ll be near the Canadian border next week!