EXPLORE: FALL FOLIAGE
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NEW ENGLAND’S FALL SPECTACLE
- from Travel America, Sept 2001 by Randy Mink
A magnet for legions of “leaf peepers” is the Litchfield Hills region of northwestern Connecticut, a collection of 26 towns nestled in the Berkshire foothills. Litchfield County, with its lakes, rivers, and rolling landscapes, is the perfect place for “shunpiking,” a New England term for, in Webster’s words, “the practice of avoiding superhighways, especially for the pleasure of driving on back roads.”
West of Litchfield, close to the New York State line, is one of Connecticut’s prime foliage-viewing byways, Route 7. Two highlights include the covered bridges at West Cornwall and Bulls Bridge. Spanning the Housatonic River, they are the state’s only two covered bridges open to automobile traffic and have been in continuous use for more than a century. The quaint village of West Cornwall, adjacent to Housatonic State Forest, has several outstanding craft shops, including the famous Cornwall Bridge Pottery Store. The nearby town of Cornwall Bridge is a good jumping-off point for Mohawk State Forest, where the Lookout Tower affords fine vistas of the Catskill, Taconic, and Berkshire ranges.
BULLS BRIDGE is in South Kent, from where a two-mile jaunt down Route 341 leads to Macedonia Brook State Park and its Cobble Mountain Trail, a favorite with fall hikers seeking vantage points high above the color-flecked valleys. Kent, noted for its restaurants, art galleries, and antique emporiums, is a short hop from Kent Falls State Park, whose staired pathway provides photo opportunities of the 200-foot-high falls. Several outfitters can provide canoes and kayaks, an option for foliage fans eager to paddle through the Housatonic’s rapids. The 10-mile float trip from Falls Village to CORNWALL BRIDGE involves a combination of fast and flat water, while the stretch of river north of Falls Village toward the Massachusetts border is quiet and smooth, ideal for observing the golden landscapes.
SCENIC DRIVES THROUGH LITCHFIELD HILLS
Begin at the New Milford Green, and take CT Route 202 West to Route 7 North. Take Route 7 through the towns of New Milford, Gaylordsville and Kent. Outside of Kent, pick up Route 45 South to Warren. Drive around Lake Waramaug into New Preston. In New Preston, take Route 202 East to Route 47 South. Take a right onto Route 199, and then right on Route 67. Follow Route 67 to the junction of Route 202 in New Milford where the drive began. The route will take travelers past the Housatonic River,
LITCHFIELD REGION DRIVE 2
Start in Litchfield at the intersection of Routes 118 and 202. Take Route 202 West to Route 209 South. Follow 209 around Bantam Lake to Route 109 through the town of Morris. When you reach Thomaston, take Route 6 East. At the intersection of Route 254, take a left onto 254 to Main Street. Follow Main Street into Thomaston center to Route 6 East through Plymouth and Terryville, then into Bristol. At the junction of Maple Street, take a right onto Maple, and stop at the American Clock and Watch Museum and Federal Hill Green. Go back to Route 6 and continue east to Route 229. Take 229 south to Lake Compounce. Head back to Route 72 West, which goes past the New England Carousel Museum. Head back on Route 6 West and at Maple Street, take Route 69 North to Route 4 W. Take Route 4 West into Harwinton. At the junction of Route 118, take 118 West and follow it back to the junction of Route 202 where the trip began. This tour is approximately 53 miles.
LITCHFIELD REGION DRIVE 3
Begin in Torrington at the junction of Route 8 and Route 4. Take Route 8 north into Winsted, where it will intersect Route 44. Take Route 44 east into New Hartford. In Hartford pick up Route 219 north through Lake McDonough to Route 318. Continue on Route 318 west and 181 south for 1 mile, then make a right just before the metal bridge and take the road through the People’s State Forest to Route 20 in Riverton. Take Route 20 west through Riverton and at the junction of Route 8, take 8 south into the center of Winsted. Pick up Route 44 west and take it to Route 183 north into the center of Colebrook. From Colebrook take Route 182A to 182, and make a right on 182. At the intersection of Route 44, take 44 west into Norfolk. In Norfolk, pick up Route 272 South into Torrington. Take 272 to Route 4 east, bear right onto Main Street. Where Main Street meets Route 202, take 202 east to the junction of Route 8 and 4, where the trip began. This tour is approximately 68 miles.