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The 16 Best Backpacking and Hiking Trips in Connecticut

Here's what you need to know...
  • One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of Connecticut is on foot
  • There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails crisscrossing across the state
  • Check weather conditions before starting a hiking trip in Connecticut
Since Connecticut was first explored by Europeans in the early 1600s, its lands have been navigated by foot and its beauty has been enjoyed immensely.

From its mountain peaks to its rugged shoreline, the stunning beauty of Connecticut is difficult to fathom until you spend time wandering along some of its many hiking trails on your own. With its mild climate throughout much of the year, you will love spending time outdoors enjoying all that the area has to offer.

With its mild climate throughout much of the year, you will love spending time outdoors enjoying all that the area has to offer. Before you go on any trips make sure to check out our free insurance quote tool above!

Connecticut’s 16 Best Backpacking and Hiking Spots

If you plan to spend time hiking through Connecticut soon, you may want to head directly to some of the most scenic locations in the state. These are among the most noteworthy hiking destinations that should garner your attention for your next hiking or backpacking trip.

#1  Appalachian Trail


Location: Litchfield Hills
Length: 21 miles
Difficulty: Difficult

The Appalachian Trail is among the most famous hiking and backpacking trails in the country. While it stretches for more than 2,000 miles, only 21 miles of it runs through the Litchfield Hills area in the northern section of the state. 

This is a rugged, difficult trail, so you should plan ahead and be properly prepared with adequate supplies and equipment if you want to fully enjoy all that this trail has to offer while you are hiking through Connecticut.

#2 Sleeping Giant State Park

Location: Hamden
Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy

If you are looking for an easy and scenic hike that is ideal for all skill levels, the Sleeping Giant State Park trail up to Mount Carmel is an excellent option to consider.

This trail is wide and relatively steady. In exchange for making an elevation change of fewer than 800 feet, you will be rewarded with incredible views of New Haven and Long Island Sound.

#3 Devil’s Hopyard State Park

Location: East Haddam
Length: Various trail lengths
Difficulty: Varies

There are numerous trails for all skill levels at Devil’s Hopyard State Park near East Haddam. Some of the more challenging trails have steep inclines and uneven surfaces, and one takes you to an incredible 60-foot waterfall.

The eerie legends surrounding this venue add to the fun associated with visiting it. Campsites, picnic tables, and other amenities are also available for you to enjoy during your visit.

#4 Pachaug State Forest

Location: Voluntown
Length: Various trail lengths
Difficulty: Varies

There is something for everyone to enjoy at the Pachaug State Forest. You can take several short and easy hikes that immerse you in stunning vegetation an that offer scenic views.

You can also choose to take a few longer and more challenging hikes if you are up for an adventure. The best time of year to visit this natural area is during early July when the large rhododendron trees are in full bloom.

#5 Airline State Park Trail


Location: Hartford
Length: 55.9 miles
Difficulty: Easy

The Airline State Park Trail is a long, interesting gravel path that takes you on a fascinating journey down memory lane.

This is a former route of a railroad track that once connected nine towns in New York and Connecticut, and now it is a popular hiking trail that immerses you in stone walls, forests, aqueducts, and more. This trail is also ideal for cross country skiing and horseback riding.

#6 Mine Hill Preserve

Location: Roxbury
Length: 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy

The Mine Hill Preserve is one of the most unique hiking destinations that you can explore in Connecticut. This is the site of a historic mine that is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to touring the site and reading the information signs on a self-guided tour while you hike around the landscape, you can also keep your eyes open for the bat species that has made its home in the area.

#7 White Memorial Conservation Center

Location: Litchfield
Length: 40 miles
Difficulty: Easy

The White Memorial Conservation Center spans across 4,000 acres in the Litchfield area, and it boasts more than 40 miles of hiking and backpacking trails for you to explore.

These are well-maintained and easy trails, and some are even boardwalks.

They provide you with the ideal way to learn more about local plant and animal species, and you should bring your camera so that you can take advantage of excellent photo opportunities along the way.

#8 Denison Pequotsepos Nature Trail

Location: Mystic
Length: 10 miles
Difficulty: Easy

The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Trail is located just outside of Mystic, and it has been hosting nature events and conservation activities for adults and children in the community for more than 70 years.

The ten miles of nature trails in the conservation area are well-maintained, and they mostly take you through landscapes that feature a combination of forests and meadows.

#9 Barn Island

Location: Stonington
Length: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy

If you are looking for an easy, scenic hiking trail in the Stonington area, Barn Island is an excellent option to consider.

This three-mile loop trail takes you through a coastal conservation land that features a gorgeous marsh that is usually filled with water birds. Deer hunting is allowed in this area seasonally, so plan your hiking trip in Barn Island accordingly.

#10 Tunxis Trail

AdobeStock_53787185-1600x1600Location: Barkhamsted
Length: 5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

The Tunxis Trail is a popular five-mile loop trail that takes you by the Indian Council Caves. This is just one of several hiking trails in the Barkhamsted area that you can enjoy while you are exploring and hiking.

For example, the Indian Council Caves trail is an easier two-mile trail that many hikers may prefer trying before attempting to complete the longer and more challenging Tunxis Trail.

#11 Haley Farm State Parkmountain-biking-1210066_1920-1600x1600Location: Groton
Length: 7.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

The Haley Farm State Park has an easy 0.8-mile bike trail that is ideal for those who are looking for a short and easy hike or bike ride inside the park.

There is also a more challenging and longer 7.5-mile trail that connects Mystic to Groton, and you can either hike or bike on this trail as desired. The trail is made of gravel and has minimal shade or inclines.

#12  Lattern Hill

Location: North Stonington
Length: 2.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

The Lattern Hill hike is a great hike for those who are looking for a short yet challenging experience. Because of the popularity of this trail and because of its incredible views, it can get crowded.

Parking spaces are limited, so you may need to arrive at the trailhead early on nice weather days. You can connect to the longer 16-mile Narragansett Trail from the Lattern Hill trail as well.

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#13  Mt. Frissell Trail

Location: Taconic
Length: 2,380-foot elevation change
Difficulty: Challenging

If you are looking for a truly challenging and ultimately rewarding experience in Connecticut, the Mt. Frissell Trail near Taconic is an excellent option to consider.

This trail takes you to the highest geographic location in the state, the summit of Mt. Frissell.

The peak is actually just across the border in Massachusetts, but the trail begins in Connecticut. You will travel on a forested trail and will be rewarded by incredible views at the top of the mountain.

#14 Nehantic State Forest

pond-1466076_1920-1600x1600Location: Lyme and East Lyme
Length: Various
Difficulty: Various

The Nehantic State Forest is one of the oldest preserved natural areas in the state, and it boasts several lakes, forests and other beautiful features that you can explore with several nature hikes.

Depending on the time of year, this area is also ideal for swimming, camping, and picnicking.

#15 Mohawk Mountain State Park

Location: Litchfield
Length: Various
Difficulty: Various

Mohawk Mountain State Park is located near the Litchfield area in the northwestern region of the state, and its landscape is characterized by dense forests, rock formations, and more.

Several hiking trails of various lengths and difficulty levels wind through this state park and give you an excellent opportunity to explore all that it offers on foot.

#16 Devil’s Den

Location: Weston
Length: 7.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

The 7.7-mile Devil’s Den trail is a loop located near Weston that takes you around a lake and through a heavily wooded area.

The elevation changes by almost 1,000 feet over the length of this trail, resulting in the moderate difficulty level.

However, in exchange for the challenge, you will be rewarded with stunning natural views, including beautiful wildflowers that bloom in the area seasonally.

Where to Begin

AdobeStock_72047239-1600x1600 (1)If you plan to hike at one or several of these trails, make your travel plans carefully. Some of these trails are loops that will start and end at the same location. Others may deposit you at a different location than you started at.

If you plan to let a friend drop you off and pick you up in your vehicle, consider if that person needs to be properly insured to drive your car.

If you plan to drive your own car to a trailhead and park it for an extended period of time, confirm that you are fully covered per state law. You should also ensure that your coverage offers benefits for damage related to theft, animal damage, hit and run damage, and more.

Because car insurance is so important to motorists in Connecticut, it makes sense to review and update your coverage before you set off on a hiking trip.  Review at least three or four different quotes from different companies for the best results.

Make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing now!

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