The 10 Most Scenic Hiking Trails in Connecticut

Connecticut is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., with its rolling hills, rocky cliffs, and mountains. Many hiking trails in Connecticut feature rushing rivers, gorgeous waterfalls, and spectacular views.

Whether you are planning a hiking trip this weekend or just want to get outdoors more often, we’ve got some of the best hiking trails in Connecticut for you to try.

We’ve taken into account several factors including difficulty level, popularity, and scenery to come up with our list.

Though the distances of the trails are listed, there are many entry points along each trail and many of Connecticut’s hiking trails connect. So, your hike can be a short one or a weekend’s trek.

scenic hiking trails in connecticut pinterest image.

The top 10 scenic hiking trails in Connecticut

1. Lion’s Head in Salisbury

Lion’s Head is one of the most scenic hiking trails in Connecticut and offers a great hike for beginners as well as more experienced hikers. There are several vistas from which you can view the surrounding area, including Sandy Cove Pond, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of some wildlife.

The view of Litchfield from Lion’s Head is spectacular and if you are up for even more of a treat, you can make the trek to Bear Mountain Summit from this trail system.

Since this overlaps with 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 to Pinnacle Rock

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

If you’re thinking about hitting up this beautiful trail, you are in for a treat. The Metacomet Trail to Pinnacle Rock showcases some of Connecticut’s most beautiful wildflowers and rock formations.

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

Distance: 4.4 miles

Difficulty level: Medium

Map: Metacomet Trail

3. Sleeping Giant State Park Trails

Sleeping Giant State Park has 24 great trail options for visitors, the Blue and Violet Loop being the most popular – and challenging.

Every trail in the park is well-maintained and features amazing views. The Blue and Violet Loop has picturesque rock scrambles and plenty of opportunities to dip your feet in the stream.

Some of the trails in this park are considered easy, while others have you do a bit of lite rock climbing.

Distance: 8 miles

Difficulty level: All (Blue and Violet Loop is hard.)

Map: Sleeping Giant Trails

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Foc_WmV6BR4

4. Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in the world. It spans roughly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, passing through 14 states and offering hikers an opportunity to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in America.

Connecticut, it turns out, has some of the best parts of this trail. This hike features views of the Ten Mile River and the Great Falls of the Housatonic.

The difficulty of this trail all depends on where you enter it and how far you take it, though it is largely considered to be 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’s easy to get to and has abundant parking. If you’re looking for a moderate hike that’s close to home, check out this gorgeous trail.

This trail features plenty of wildlife and a lovely boardwalk (featured in the video below) that crosses a brook. This is a great hiking trail for families or folks just looking for an easy hike.

Distance: 1.2

Difficulty level: Easy

Map: Beaver Brook 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 the best-kept secrets in Connecticut, despite being only a two-hour drive from both Manhattan and Boston.

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

Many hikers will recommend that you travel clockwise around the trail so you end your hike at the water, which is relaxing after a strenuous hike.

Distance: 6.5 miles

Difficulty level: Hard

Map: Zoar Trail

7. Tunxis Trail in Barkhampstead

The Tunxis Trail is a 34-mile hiking trail that runs from Farmington, CT to Middletown, CT. Many hikers choose to take the trail to the top of Pine Mountain, however, which comes out to about 9 miles roundtrip.

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

You’ll also see lots of mountain laurel, a beautiful stream, a horse field, 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, The Salmon River State Forest and The 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 features lake views and the famous Comstock Covered Bridge. You will also see some horseback riding along the trail, as many in this area enjoy that.

Fishing and swimming are permitted, which makes this a perfect hiking trail for families – hike a bit and then stop for some swimming or fishing.

Distance: 6.9 miles

Difficulty level: Easy

Map: Salmon River State Forest

9. Bear Mountain Trail

Revered by most Nutmeggers as one of the best hiking trails in CT, Bear Mountain Trail in Salisbury is a hikers’ dream. The trail features scenic wooded areas, wildflowers, rushing streams, marshy areas, and waterfalls and takes you to what is considered the highest peak in Connecticut.

This Connecticut hiking trail is fairly strenuous and it’s recommended that you plan for a solid half-day of hiking when you visit. If you are looking to hike to a camping spot, there is one along the trail – just be sure to get information from the visitor’s center on camping before starting your hike.

Distance: 5.4 miles

Difficulty level: Moderate/Hard

Map: Bear Mountain Trail

10. Mattatuk Trail in Wolcott

If you’re planning a trip hiking in the Mattatuck State Forest or just want to explore a new place, consider taking a hike on the Mattatuck Trail.

Located in Wolcott, Connecticut, the trail is 7.5 miles long and takes you from Wolcott to Brophy Pond, though many hikers take the trail all the way to Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall.

This hike features a walk along the Mad River and experience Buttermilk Falls around the 5-mile mark. There are stretches of the hike that have you walk on streets, but the trail is well marked and you’ll be guided back to nature.

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

Distance: 15.7 miles

Difficulty level: Hard

Map: Mattatuk Trail

There you have it – Connecticut’s best and most beautiful hiking trails. Enjoy!

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