Connecticut Foliage Rides
Autumn colors are ablaze at Lake Waramaug in Kent.
Without a doubt, the best time to explore Connecticut is autumn, when the days are cool and crisp and the changing foliage can be spectacular. Here are a few drives you may want to try—peak foliage is from the end of September through mid October, depending on the weather.
Starting in New Milford and heading north on Route 202 to Route 45 in New Preston, then around Lake Waramaug.
The majority of this ride is the rolling terrain and farms of the lower Litchfield Hills; the village of New Preston offers a few small shops to visit. The real treat of this trip is the lap around Lake Waramaug, arguably the most scenic body of water in the state even without a backdrop of autumnal hues. In addition to the state park here (fishing, boating or picnicking, anyone?), there’s the storied Hopkins Inn as well as the Hopkins Vineyard—tastings and tours are available (please just don’t drink and drive).
Starting in New Milford on Route 7 and heading north to Cornwall Bridge.
Not only does this ride highlight some of the most amazing foliage the Litchfield Hills has to offer, but it passes two historic covered bridges that span the Housatonic River—Bulls Bridge in Kent, erected in 1842, and the iconic red Cornwall Bridge in West Cornwall, built around 1864. This ride also passes through the village of Kent (charming shops and restaurants) and by Kent Falls State Park, home to a gently cascading series of waterfalls.
Starting in Canterbury and heading north on Route 169 to North Woodstock.
Route 169 is an officially designated National Scenic Byway, so it’s a picturesque ride through the Quiet Corner anytime of year. In addition to sites like the Prudence Crandall Museum in Canterbury (dedicated to the State Heroine) and Roseland Cottage-Bowen House, a National Historic Landmark, there are plenty of rustic landscapes, horse farms and stone walls.
Starting in Branford and heading along the coast on Route 146 to Guilford, then north on Route 77 to Durham.
With more than 12 miles of scenic roadway, this trek travels through a variety of landscapes, from coastline marshes to farmland to woods. It also passes the Guilford green, which is lined with excellent restaurants and fine shops, and is bisected by the Mattabassett Trail, a Blue-Blazed hiking trail that is part of the New England National Scenic Trail—one of only 11 such Congressionally protected areas in the United States—and a terrific opportunity to experience the changing foliage on foot.
Starting in Sharon and heading north on Route 41 to Salisbury.
Leaf-peeping purists will love this sojourn, which winds through the heart of the Litchfield Hills, offering mile after mile of unspoiled autumnal beauty, blazing color and idyllic countryside. It does also pass through civilization, including the inviting towns of Sharon, Lakeville and Salisbury, all replete with fine dining and shopping possibilities, as well as places to stay the night in case you want to wake up and start over again.
Connecticut Foliage Rides