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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.