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Best Places to Walk in Connecticut; From Paved to Dirt Paths

Wondering about the best places to walk in Connecticut? The most scenic CT walking spots from forest trails to coastal walkways and paved peaceful paths?

I’ve taken my decades of living and hiking in CT to pull together the best places to walk in Connecticut. You’ll find popular spots and lesser-known hidden gems for every level of fitness. 🏃🏻‍♀️

There are plenty of amazing hikes in CT but for this article I will focus on walking trails that beginners, families, and most ages can do!

After decades of hiking and climbing every mountain in CT, I’ve learned that it doesn’t always have to be a summit view to be great.

I’ve loved discovering serene walks that are more gentle yet still surrounded by nature and views but aren’t a big hike.

⬇️ These Connecticut walks are organized into 6 categories: ⬇️

  1. Land Trust Trails
  2. Popular/”Must-Do” walks
  3. Paved walking paths
  4. Riverwalks in CT
  5. Flower walks in CT
  6. Historic trails in CT

So let’s get our walking shoes or boots ready and grab a notebook to write down our favorite trails.

Let’s explore the best walks in CT!

Connecticut’s Walking Trails By Type:

1. Connecticut Land Trust Trails 🌳

Did you know that we have 123 Land Trusts in Connecticut that protect over 62,000 acres of open space? I know a lot of people may not think of Connecticut as an optimal state for hiking but our large number of Land Trusts alone make this a great state for walking.

I wrote a post detailing 16 beautiful and scenic land trusts in Connecticut worth visiting.

The land trust trails I listed in that post include trails that take you through old farm fields in CT, by the water, and up to scenic lookouts.

Ranging from easy to moderate walking paths, below are just a few of the trails you will find in my CT Land Trust article.

Litchfield Land Trust

There are several preserves in Litchfield but Medicine Rock Loop is definitely one of my favorites.

Medicine Rock Loop is a dirt path loop in the woods for 1.6 miles and little elevation at just 167 feet of elevation gain.

I love the stretch that takes you all along the Bantam River. This is a great spot on warmer days to let the dogs cool off. 🙂

Farmington Land Trust

There are several Farmington Land Trust properties to choose from but my favorite is the Nancy Cowles Trail.

You’ll feel like you’re walking the grounds of your very own farm property as the flat dirt path meanders along the Pequabuck River, the Farmington River, and Meadow Land.

Sharon Land Trust

The Sharon Land Trust has some of THE best walking paths in Connecticut which is why I wrote a whole post dedicated to it; Exploring Sharon’s Land Trust Trails.

Why are these some of the best places to walk in CT? Well, if you’ve ever visited the countryside of England or Ireland and walked amongst the farmlands and meadows then you’ll get that same feeling here!

These CT trails combine history and scenery and though Sharon is tucked away in the northwest corner I suggest you make a day trip to Sharon CT and explore these trails!

2. Popular “Must-Do” Walking Trails in CT 🥾

Sleeping Giant Tower Trail, Hamden

The Sleeping Giant Tower Trail is a wide gravel path that leads you not just to views but also Sleeping Giant Castle! 🏰

This is a very popular walking path on the weekends which may be good if you’d rather not walk somewhere remote.

If you are a beginner looking for a great workout and great views then this 3.1 round trip gravel trail (there are some uphill parts) is for you!

Dogs are welcome on leash and it’s a great spot to take kids as the path is wide and there’s nothing tricky to navigate. Plus you can bribe them with not only the castle at the top but also a trip to Wentworth’s Homemade Ice Cream after which is just 2 minutes away. 😉

Wadsworth Falls Loop, Wadsworth Falls State Park, Middletown

A loop of enchantment awaits in Middletown! Like Sleeping Giant, this is another wide gravel path that winds through the forest by a couple of smaller waterfalls leading to the larger Wadsworth Falls.

You don’t have to do the full 3.6-mile loop here. You can walk as long as you’d like and then turn around!

I will say that this isn’t the easiest loop to follow as there are multiple trails within Wadsworth Falls State Park. I would venture here if you are good at following along on AllTrails. Otherwise, if you are looking to just see the waterfall then follow my instructions in this post about Connecticut’s waterfalls.

Giuffrida Park Reservoir Trail, Meriden

While Giuffrida Park Loop is a popular and very scenic hike in central CT, that’s not the trail we are talking about here!

For the purpose of this post about the best walks in CT I want to tell you about the wide dirt path that runs along the left side of Bradley Hubbarb Reservoir at Giuffrida Park.

From the parking lot, walk toward the reservoir and you’ll see a wide path entering the forest to the left of the water. You can either walk down and back along the reservoir for a total of 1.6 miles or you can loop around to the left on a trail parallel to the reservoir path for 2.3 miles.

If you want more of a hike then check out my post; 4 different hikes (including Chauncey Peak) at Giuffrida Park. Choose one and I bet you’ll go back again and again!

If you’re feeling adventurous and want a challenge – try the short but steep trail up to the top of Chauncey Peak, overlooking the reservoir!

White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield

I can’t think about pretty walks in Connecticut without thinking of White Memorial in the Litchfield Hills. White Memorial is an environmental education center, nature museum, and for the purpose of our post – home to 4,000 acres and more than 11 different trails.

I lived in Litchfield for several years and this was always my go-to when I wanted to feel safe walking alone or with my dog, Captain.

Take your pick from 11 popular trails at White Memorial including my favorites the Beaver Pond Loop, Apple Hill Observatory, and White Memorial Boardwalk.

If you don’t live near Litchfield I suggest using my article to plan your visit: 31 Fun Things to Do in Litchfield which includes cafes and more hikes!

Wide padded pine paths in White Memorial await you! 🌲🌲

3. Paved Walking Trails in Connecticut 🥾

Perfect for a leisurely walk, scenic jog with a stroller, or a breezy bike ride – CT has plenty of easy paved trails where people of all ages can enjoy nature’s surroundings without challenging terrain.

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail AKA Farmington River Trail

The wide paved Farmington Canal Heritage Trail greenway runs for 54 miles from New Haven (southern CT) all the way up to Suffield, CT, reaching the border of Massachusetts.

The Farmington River Trail is a 16.1-mile portion of the 54-mile Canal Trail running from Farmington to Simsbury and is considered one of the most picturesque and historic greenways in New England.

I grew up in Hamden which is one of the towns the Farmington Canal Trail runs through and loved meeting my friends for walks and rollerblading on this paved path.

Pistol Creek, Berlin

black dog walking on paved pathway surrounded by fall trees and green and golden leaves in connecticut

If you’re looking for a paved walk in central CT then Pistol Creek in centrally located Berlin is your answer!

This is a peaceful and scenic 2-mile paved loop that always gives me the same good vibes I get from a forest walk but on a paved trail.

Mainly flat with a few gentle up and downhill parts you’ll wind your way through trees, meadows, and little bridges.

A magical place to stroll or push a stroller!

Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison

Head to the eastern coast of CT for a paved path along the ocean!

You can walk for a total of 3.8 (all flat) miles here all along the Long Island Sound.

The walk ends at Meig’s Point Nature Center which is supposed to be a great spot for sunrise. This coastal CT walk one has been on my list for a while and I will report back with pictures after I go.

Nepaug Reservoir Trail, Canton

Head out to Canton, CT for a 2-mile flat, paved trail walk around Nepaug Reservoir and the 100-year-old dam!

Other paved Connecticut walks and trails to try:

4. Riverwalks in Connecticut/Walks Along a River 🌊

Is there a more peaceful place for a trail to be than meandering along a river?

I spent months venturing out to try different walks all along Connecticut’s rivers. Check out my full post here: 8 Beautiful River Walks in Connecticut.

The post linked above offers trails that run along the Connecticut River, Shepaug River, Housatonic River, Bantam River, and several tributaries running off them.

Below are just a few of Connecticut’s river walks:

Hartford Riverwalk, Hartford

As the beating heart of Connecticut’s capital, the Hartford Riverwalk is a network of paved pathways that hug the banks of the Connecticut River. Marvel at the city’s skyline, or enjoy the accessibility provided by the well-maintained paths suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.

Located along East River Road, the Hartford Riverwalk connects well-known locations like Mortensen Riverfront Plaza and Charter Oak Landing.

Appalachian Trail along the Housatonic River, Cornwall

If you want to get a taste of the Appalachian Trail in the northwest corner of CT then choose this easy-to-moderate section along the Housatonic River!

Most of the 50 miles along Connecticut’s Appalachian Trail are considered more of a hike than a walk but there is a 7-mile (out and back) section that is relatively flat and right along the Housatonic River.

Do still wear hiking boots here as this is a real trail with roots and rocks! Though there’s little elevation change along this river walk, you’ll want sturdy boots for ankle support.

Farmington Canal Yellow Blaze Loop, Farmington

The Farmington Canal Yellow Blaze Loop is one of my go-to walks with the dogs. I love how it’s (normally) quiet and always beautiful; winter spring, summer or fall. I have numerous photos from every season here.

It is also a walk I usually feel safe letting the dogs off leash as you can usually see pretty far in front of you and tell whether anyone is coming.

You can do the whole 3.6-mile loop (warning it does require you to cross the street if you do the whole loop!) or take the loop clockwise and just walk the 1.4-mile trail along the Farmington Canal then turn back.

A flat dirt path with the river on one side and Sub Edge Farm property on the other – this is a beautiful walk to choose from in the Farmington Valley area of CT.

5. Walks Amongst Connecticut’s Flowers 🌸

Venturing out in the spring or summer? Even in the fall, you can find walks amongst flower fields and gardens – scenes that will make you forget how many steps you’ve taken.

I wrote a post where you’ll find 13 different flower walks in Connecticut!

From state parks all in bloom to mansions with gardens and trails to roam – I can’t think of a much better place to walk around in the spring or summer.

Below are just a few flower walks from that article;

Laurel Ridge Daffodil Farm, Northfield

Walk amongst rolling green hills blanketed in a sea of white and yellow daffodils with centuries-old stone walls bordering various sections.

This is a place meant for strolling and admiring the flowers which are only in season at certain times. Catch the flowers in late spring and you’re in for a scenic walk you won’t soon forget! 🙂

Elizabeth Park, West Hartford

Elizabeth Park in West Hartford has over 100 acres of formal gardens, green space, and walking loops to wander.

Forgot to pack a water or a snack? Head to the Pond House Cafe right in the middle of this dreamy floral park.

Bring a camera, your dog, and your mom! You can walk as much or as little as you want here on flat and mostly paved surfaces.

Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford

spring yellow daffodils at harkness state park connecticut

Another family-friendly park to stroll in CT. Harkness is an old mansion where you can explore the grounds and gardens and sprawling front lawn which leads right to the Long Island Sound.

Almost 300 flat acres to explore and given all it has with the ocean, mansion, and gardens, it gets very busy here on weekends. Come early morning for a quieter setting.

6. Historic Connecticut Trails with Unique Backstories 📖

Most of the time when I’m walking on a trail I think about its history; how did this trail get here, and why?

Following the routes of old railroads and trolleys, Connecticut’s trails are not only scenic walks but also reminders of our state’s rich heritage.

From the Shepaug Valley Railroad’s former route, now the Kress Family Trail, to the Hop River State Park Trail’s historic rail bed, each trail is a storied path through time.

Branford Trolley Trail, Branford

A footbridge through history, the Branford Trolley Trail a 0.6-mile path that breathes life into an old trolley track.

The 0.6-mile bridge links nature trails on both sides of the water through a marsh habitat that is home to many shorebirds, fish, mammals and invertebrates. Traillink.com

Mattabassett Trolley Trail, Middletown & Berlin

Capturing the essence of Connecticut’s riverine allure, the paved Mattabassett Trolley Trail spans 2.9 miles, following the Mattabessett River’s gentle curves where trolleys once rumbled. Meander under historic bridges and along peaceful riverbanks where the trolley used to travel.

Kress Family Trail, Roxbury

A 3.1-mile tribute to the historical Shepaug Valley Railroad, the Kress Family Trail is nestled in Roxbury. Follow the whispers of steam engines long gone, their paths intertwined with the natural beauty that has reclaimed the old railway, offering a serene walking experience linking CT’s past with the present.

Frequently Asked Questions about Connecticut’s Walking Trails

Are the trails in Connecticut dog-friendly?

Yes! Most trails in Connecticut are dog-friendly as long as dogs are kept on a leash. All of the walking trails included in this post are dog-friendly.

Are there paved trails for biking in Connecticut?

Yes, Connecticut has several historic trails, including the Branford Trolley Trail and the Kress Family Trail, which follow former trolley and railroad paths. These trails offer unique historical significance and are worth visiting.

Where can I find scenic coastal walks in Connecticut?

You can find scenic coastal walks in Connecticut at locations like the Niantic Bay Boardwalk, Lighthouse Point Park, Bluff Point State Park in Groton, and Harkness State Park in Waterford. Each offers stunning views of the coastline and Long Island Sound. These are great spots for a leisurely stroll and a peaceful walk.

What are the best places for walking near New Haven?

For the best spots to walk in CT near New Haven check out the 2.2-mile East Rock Loop Trail, the 1.7-mile paved path up to Judges Cave in West Rock State Park, or the paved multi-mile Farmington Canal Heritage trail which starts in New Haven.

I hope you enjoyed this post about the best places to walk in Connecticut!

These trails were handpicked by me because they are all worth a visit and are the best walks in CT since they aren’t too difficult or technical.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post where I will discuss the best hikes in Connecticut!

Happy Trails!!

💗🥾🐶🐶

Key Takeaways

  • Connecticut’s diverse network of walking trails, maintained by local land trusts and the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, offers landscapes ranging from coastal paths to rugged mountain trails.

  • Highlighted trails include the family-friendly Sleeping Giant Tower Trail with panoramic views, the serene Wadsworth Falls Loop, and the challenging Metacomet Trail Loop that showcases Connecticut’s natural beauty.

  • Connecticut also features a variety of specialty trails, including historic paths like the Branford Trolley Trail, scenic riverwalks such as the Hartford Riverwalk, and multi-use trails like the CTfastrak Multi-Use Trail, catering to diverse outdoor activities and accessibility needs.

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