The capital of Connecticut is a great place to live and work, but what about recreation? There are some great trails for hiking near Hartford CT that are perfect for a weekend outing.
The Hartford area of Connecticut is a great place to live with plenty of things to do. However, sometimes you just need to get out of the busy city spots and enjoy nature. Luckily, there are some great nature trails near Hartford that are perfect for a day trip.
Trails in the area will please hiking enthusiasts of all levels of experience. From a paved trail at Elizabeth Park to a more challenging hike at Talcott Mountain, there is a trail for everyone to enjoy the scenic views.
This guide will provide an overview of some of the best hiking in the Hartford area.
What to Bring on a Hike
If you’re going to go on a hike, it’s best to be prepared, even if you’re not planning to hike very far.
- Plenty of water
- Bug and tick spray
- Proper hiking shoes with good traction
- A small first aid kit
- Trail maps, even if you just download them on to your phone on an application like AllTrails
- If you want to document your hike, a camera!
Best Hiking Near Hartford CT
Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, is a vibrant and bustling city with plenty to offer visitors and residents alike. However, if you’re looking to get out into nature, there are also plenty of great hiking trails near Hartford.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or an easy stroll through the woods, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this list of the best hikes near Hartford.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
This is a great trail for beginners. It’s mostly flat and follows the Farmington Canal. This trail is paved, so it’s very accessible for people in wheel chair or for people who might be walking their child in a stroller! It is a nice easy trail with beautiful views of the canal.
This trail is a bit more challenging, with some steep hills. But it’s also beautiful, with streams and waterfalls. The trail covers a total of 38.5 miles. The trail system generally traverses the western ridge of the scenic central Connecticut valley. The southern trailhead of the Tunxis Trail is in Southington and the trail runs north to the Massachusetts state line.
The Metacomet Trail
The Metacomet Trail is an impressive 62.2 miles in total. It goes through several towns in Connecticut and goes up to the Massachusetts border. Of course, you don’t have to do the whole trail in one go. You can do this trail in sections! There are sections that are moderate as well as more challenging sections.
This beautiful trail follows the striking traprock ridge from the Hanging Hills of Meriden to the Massachusetts border. While offering a wide variety of terrain, this trail affords incredible views, features historic landmarks, and offers the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife. It also connects with several other hiking trails in the area.
The Mattabesett Trail
This is the longest trail, and it’s also the most challenging. This 62 mile trail winds through the forests and hills of central Connecticut. But, you don’t have to do the whole 62 miles, there are various sections you can hike and many entry points to the trail.
My favorite section of this trail is Besek Mountain in Middlefield, CT. The views of Black Pond from the top are absolutely incredible. I could sit at the top of this peak for hours. In the distance, you can see Castle Craig that sits atop a peak at Hubbard Park.
This hike is another favorite of mine. You start this hike below where there is a beautiful pond with fountains and plenty of ducks. There is a main road that can actually be driven up to get to Castle Craig at the top. But, you’ll get the best views if you do the hike up.
While you can take the driving road all the way up, I recommend you take the path that takes you along the top of the cliffs that is parallel with the reservoir. To me, there’s nothing better than amazing views of water. The hike up to these high vantage points is always worth it for the views!
Chauncey Peak Trail
Chauncey Peak Trail at Giuffrida Park in Meriden is another trail that offers great views. The tiring hike up to the peak is completely worth it for the stunning views of Bradley Hubbard Reservoir. This is a hike I’ve done after the hike up to Castle Craig at Hubbard Park as they’re both in Meriden.
Even if you don’t choose to hike to the top, the walk around the reservoir on the bottom is also provides great views. The loop around the reservoir is great for all skill levels as it is relatively flat.
Talcott Mountain State Park
Talcott Mountain State Park is another favorite hike of mine near Hartford that’s located in Simsbury. Hiking up the mountain offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The scenic hike has are various overlook spots that are great for snapping pictures.
Another feature of the hike up that I enjoy is the natural rock of the mountain that is visible. The jagged edges of the rock are really interesting to look at. Sometimes, I like to climb up the rock a bit and take a seat.
At the top of the mountain, you can take the tower trail to Heublein Tower. The 165-foot structure was built as a summer home in 1914 by Gilbert Heublein. There are various spots at the top of the mountain that you can picnic, learn about the history of the tower, and get stunning views.
You can even go inside the tower! The top of the tower has windows all around that allows you to get a great 360 view of the stunning landscape below. If the tower is open when you get to the top of the mountain, I highly recommend going in! On a clear day, you can even see Long Island Sound.
Gillette Castle State Park
Another great hiking spot with some historical significance is Gillette Caste State Park. This castle in this popular state park once belonged to William Gillette, who was best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes.
The stone castle is located along the banks of the Connecticut River and is just a short distance from the main parking lot. With it’s stunning views of the river, it’s a great spot to see the fall foliage in autumn. You can purchase tickets to go inside the castle and there is also a gift shop and restaurant.
But, as I mentioned, it is a great hiking spot. There are various loops to do around the park as well as some out and back trails that take you down to the Connecticut River. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some bald eagles along the river on your hike!
Looking to see a waterfall? Take a hike at Black Ledge Falls! The hike to the falls is fairly short from the main lot. If you’re looking to do a longer hike, you can start at Gay City State Park. Gay City Park offers a beautiful hike through the woods. It’s really quite peaceful.
The best times to go to Blackledge Falls are in the wet season when there’s been rain or during the winter when the falls are a stunning frozen spectacle. If you go during a dry spell, this waterfall with be just a tiny trickle.
Case Mountain is a popular hiking spot in Manchester that was created by the Case Family “in the spirit of the romantic landscape ideal of the late Victorian era.” There are various trails to explore in this beautiful park that’s only 15 minutes from Hartford!
Highlights of this park include a stunning waterfall which can be viewed near the Spring St lot and the an overlook along the white trail which is about a 20 minute walk from either parking area. In addition to these main attractions, there are old buildings, a reservoir, and plenty of wooded areas to explore!
There are a few great hiking spots in Hartford, Connecticut. The Talcott Mountain State Park has a number of trails that range from easy to difficult. The park is also home to the Heublein Tower, which offers hikers some beautiful views of the surrounding area. Another great spot for hiking is the Blue Trail in the Farmington River Valley Preserve. This trail is a bit more challenging, but it’s well worth it for the stunning views of the river valley.
The Metacomet Trail starts near Berlin, CT and goes all the way to the Massachusetts border.
The path has over 55 miles of trails and travels along the rugged and scenic Metacomet Ridge of Central Connecticut.
If you’re looking for a great outdoor experience in Connecticut, be sure to check out one of these hiking trails near Hartford!
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