11 Best Hikes in Connecticut to Watch the Sunrise

If you’re looking for the best lookouts and hikes in Connecticut to see the sunrise then look no further! 

sunrise view on ledge with mountain and golden sun in distance
Sunrise at a lookout in Granby, number 5 on the list!

I’ve been chasing sunrises since the summer of 2020 when I did my first sunrise hike on vacation in Lake Elmore, Vermont. At the time the sun was coming up around 5 am (it rises so early in summer!) so when the alarm went off it was a challenge, but how it looked and the energy and the way I felt for the rest of the day is what hooked me. And I’ve been chasing them ever since!

woman sitting on ledge with sun shining

There’s no time like the morning from the morning fog (if you’re lucky!), colors in the sky, and the sounds of the birds chirping and waking up. The rest of the day is no match in my eyes although there are some sunsets that blow me away, too. 😉 And if you want to take beautiful pictures the first and last hours of the day have the best light.

These 10 Connecticut hikes have some of the best views and also happen to face east to see the sun. I added the AllTrails link to each one in the title so just click there and a window will pop up.

1. Sweetheart Mountain, Collinsville⁣⁣

man sitting on hiking ledge with view of blue sky
  • Miles: 2 miles out and back (read instructions above!)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate (steep in beginning!)
  • Elevation: 400 ft
  • Parking: lot with about 10 spaces atop a street off of Dunne Ave (residential neighborhood)
  • Special features: overlooks Nepaug Reservoir

Be sure to read my directions here in order to get here to this beautiful CT lookout. 😍 Start the trail going clockwise and about 1/2 a mile in (see where it says ‘fence end’ on the loop) you will take a left here and continue the trail. It goes for about another 1/3 of a mile or so until you reach this magnificent lookout. The water company doesn’t want people beyond this spot so just go to the lookout and back!

2. Lion’s Head Peak Trail along Appalachian Trail, Salisbury

mountain sunrise
  • Miles: 2.5 miles out and back
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 613 ft elevation gain
  • Parking: small lot off Bunker Hill Rd
  • Special features: one of the best lookouts in northwestern CT along the historic AT

Lion’s Head is one of the best views along the Appalachian Trail in CT. A rocky peak that seems to pop out of nowhere after a somewhat short walk in the woods (when following the trail linked above). From the Bunker Hill parking lot you’ll enter the narrow trail which feels like a little tunnel in the woods.

This section could be muddy so wear waterproof boots! It’s relatively flat for .4 miles and then you’ll begin a climb of about 550 ft in half a mile. And then there’s one final somewhat steep rock wall scramble (not a vertical rock wall but slanted, I’ve seen many kids go up and down this fun section) until you reach the southeastern-facing lookout.

3. Rattlesnake Mountain via Metacomet Trail, Farmington ⁣⁣

woman and dog on ledge during sunrise with reflection
  • Miles: 2.5-miles out and back
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 400 ft elevation gain
  • Parking: ~10 spots along busy Route 6 (be careful pulling in & out here!)
  • Special features: You can see Hartford in the distance from atop all of the trap rock here which is a popular spot for mountain climbers. Check out Will Warren’s Den, too.

One of my favorite go-to hikes within a half-hour drive of me is Rattlesnake Mountain. It has it all and it’s not too difficult so whatever mood you’re in or your energy level you’ll enjoy it! (I hope).

The trail is a somewhat wider path with a gradual incline the whole way making it the perfect trail to walk and talk with someone side-by-side. There is a little scrambling or stepping over big rocks as you get closer to the top but there are actually little paths around these sections, too.

Before you get to the wide-open lookout be sure to check out Will Warren’s Den when you reach the big rock (you’ll see the bronze plaque). “The cave is one of Farmington’s historic landmarks. In the 17th century, Warren, according to legend, tried to burn down the village of Farmington after he was flogged for not going to church. Driven out of town and pursued into the mountains, he was hidden in this cave by Native Americans.”

4. Pine Knob Loop, Cornwall⁣⁣

sunrise view at fall with mountains and fog in distance
Fall view overlooking Housatonic River valley
  • Miles: 2.5-mile loop
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 770 ft elevation gain
  • Parking: large lot along Route 7
  • Special features: Enjoy the falls along Hatch Brook Falls on your way down!

Wow, this is one of my favorite hikes in CT and the views and waterfalls along the trail don’t disappoint no matter when you go. But to get to the view for sunrise in the shortest way possible take the loop counterclockwise and see the view first and Hatch Brook Falls second as you come back down.

You’ll follow the blue blaze most of the time but you will link up with the white blaze Appalachian Trail for about .8 miles before getting back on the blue again. You will have to cross Hatch Brook when you first start the hike before the loop starts and this section could be a little tricky but this is a popular trail for people of all ages. Enjoy!

5. West Barndoor Hill Lookout at Mclean Refuge, Granby

sunrise view on ledge with mountain and golden sun in distance
  • Miles: 1.2 miles out and back
  • Time: 30 min – 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 324 ft
  • Parking: small pull of (1-2 spots) along Barndoor Hills Rd
  • Special features: I’ve seen the best sunrises in CT here!

6. Suffield, Suffield

dog on hike overlook
  • Miles: 2.9-mile loop
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 700 ft
  • Parking: lot with about 10-15 spaces along East River Rd
  • Special features: Falls Cutoff Cascades 💦, 2 lookouts, Lighthouse Cemetery

7. Horse Guard White Trail in Horse Guard State Park, Avon⁣⁣

woman and two dogs with sun shining at sunrise
  • Miles: 1.2-miles out and back
  • Time: 30 minutes-1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 250 ft elevation gain
  • Parking: lot with under 10 spaces off of West Avon Rd
  • Special features: has views facing both east and west! (go for sunrise or sunset :))

8. Ragged Mountain, Berlin

woman and dog on ledge during sunrise with reflection
  • Miles: .1.4 miles out and back
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 300 ft elevation gain
  • Parking: spaces along West Lane
  • Special features: overlooks Lower Hart Pond

9. Hedgehog Trail, West Simsbury⁣⁣

fall view at sunrise
  • Miles: 1.94 miles out and back
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 650 ft elevation gain
  • Parking: along the street at the end of N Saddle Ridge Drive cul-de-sac
  • Special features: has 2 different eastern-facing lookouts to choose from and Cathles Waterfall on way up

A beautiful spot to watch the sun come up and guess what! It doesn’t have to be as long as stated below and on the trail map. There are 2 different eastern-facing ridges here. So after the waterfall, once you get to the fork in the trail (you’ll also see a sign and a bridge) you can choose to go up the mountain on the right to watch the sunrise or the mountain on your left!

10. Round Mountain, Salisbury

pink skies with snow on sunrise hike
  • Miles: 1.35 miles out and back
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 430 ft
  • Parking: small lot along East St
  • Special features: true mountain setting!

11. Tunnel Falls Trail, Southington

As some AllTrails reviews have said, it can be tricky to find the views here unless you are good at using the AllTrails map!

That’s why I wrote a post here detailing exactly how to get to the lookout. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

  • Miles: 3.1 miles out and back
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 534 ft
  • Parking: small lot (3-4 cars) along Whitman Rd off Mt Vernon Rd
  • Special features: small falls (Great Uncomformity Falls) at the top!

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of the best sunrise hikes in Connecticut. Even if you aren’t going to make it for the sunrise I think we can agree that these views are some of the best in CT and would be beautiful any time of day!

orange skies at dawn with woman standing on ledge
Lion’s Head pre-sunrise with the crescent moon! 👩🏼‍🚀

Which one do you want to go to first?!

Happy sunrise trails!! 🥾🌅

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you and looking to hit rattlesnake tomorrow for sunrise. We may have run into each other before hiking some of the AT. Hope all is well.

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