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8 Beautiful River Walks & Trails in Connecticut

water view along shepaug river trail at shepaug crossing trail in connecticut

Looking to be lulled by the sound of water as you walk through a stretch of peaceful woods in Connecticut?! You’ll love this list of beautiful trails along various rivers in Connecticut!

I’ve lived in Connecticut almost all my life (quick stint in the Berkshires ;)) and as I uncover more and more of the state’s trails – it’s the walks along our rivers that are some of my favorites! I love returning to these again and again in each season. Is there a prettier scene than a river running through tunnels of green trees in the summer, yellow & gold in the fall, and speckled with snow in winter?!

2 dogs in the shepaug river connecticut
Hike #6 on the list 💦

Though we all love a good summit view, there’s something about a peaceful flat or rolling hill walk. And to have it run alongside a river for you to hear and see as you go?! Woah 😍💦🥾

The Most Beautiful Walks Along Connecticut’s Rivers!

Whether they meander calmly through overgrown woodland valleys or rush boldly over gnarly terrain, the river exudes an air of serenity and calm reflection, intentional in its movements and progressions. 

These enchanting walks along Connecticut’s riversides will take you past hidden gems that line their shores – ancient forests alive with wildlife, quiet villages with colorful histories, and the rippling currents of the natural world. 

Each trail includes a link to AllTrails where you can check out reviews, and extra photos, and hit ‘directions’ to navigate there when you’re ready! 🚗🗺

1. Appalachian Trail along the Housatonic River, Cornwall

dog on appalachian trail river walk in late fall

This stunning 7-mile out-and-back section of the Appalachian Trail begins in either Cornwall or Kent and hugs tightly to the banks of the Housatonic River. You’ll stroll through varying types of deciduous forests and old farm fields. 

With the gentle lapping and rushing of the river as your background music, you’ll find yourself walking parallel to the many colonial rock walls and abandoned stone foundations that line one of Connecticut’s greatest river trails. 

Walk the whole 3.5 miles down and then back or walk for just a quick bit! This narrow Appalachian Trail path hits the spot for any stroll you’re craving.

2. Medicine Rock Loop on the Bantam River, Litchfield

woman hiking at medicine rock loop trail in litchfield connecticut

Can you say a walk that feels like the best medicine?! 😍 It’s gotta be Medicine Rock Loop!

Huge stones of quartz pepper the wood’s floor along this trail, guiding you down to the banks of the Bantam River. 

At just 1.6 miles in total, this trail promises a hugely relaxing romp along a swiftly hustling river for little effort. 

There is an undeniable feeling of wonder and calm on this trail. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

3. Black Bridge Road Trail along the Farmington River, New Hartford

dog on trail along farmington river in new hartford connecticut
Winky 🐶💗🥰

Right over Black Bridge in New Hartford begins the one way trail to a lonely yet pristinely beautiful little river peninsula in the middle of the Farmington River.

A magical place to hike in all seasons but really shows its worth in peak autumn with monstrous oaks and maples popping with vibrant colors while they hang sturdily over the deep flowing river.

A well worth it 2 mile out and back little trek.

4. Shepaug Crossing Preserve along the Shepaug River, Woodville (Litchfield)

black dog walking on shepaug river crossing trail in litchfield connecticut
Upper part of the loop that’s not along the river…🥾

In the tiny town of Woodville, right outside of Bantam you can find the trail head that will lead you into the forests of Shepaug Crossing. 

Some gentle ups and downs will eventually give way to a fantastic walk along the Shepaug River as it glides and tumbles south. 

Tucked into the banks are the remnants of an old forge, with the sight adding to colonial lore of this 2.4 mile walk.

5. Zoar River Trail along the Housatonic River, Sandy Hook

Out and back in 3.6 miles all the while navigating the elevated banks of the Housatonic River in Sandy Hook. Or if you’d like a longer option take the 6.3-mile loop on the Zoar Trail.

While the view of the river from the trail (especially in a season with no leaves on trees!) is pretty in itself, there’s a spectacular waterfall at the end of the trail – Prydden Brook Falls! 💦

The river is wide and impressive for this trail section, providing a unique perspective of one of Connecticut’s grandest waterways. 

You’re sure to get your fill of peaceful quiet time as you walk along this longer section of Connecticut’s river trails.

6. Steep Rock Preserve along Shepaug River, Washington 

dad and daughter at steep rock river in connecticut
Great family walk! Hi dad! And mom. 🙂

Take your pick of 4 different trails within Steep Rock Preserve that take you walking along different sections of the Shepaug River.

Nestled in the hills and valleys of Washington lies another gem of a river trail. This one meanders along old wagon roads and past long-since reclaimed foundations, railroad tracks, and stone walls. 

As you take in the surrounding serenity of Steep Rock Preserve, dramatically curling ox bows push and pull the Shepaug River southward. 

The Clamshell and Pinny Loops are 2.3 and 3.7 miles respectively and will provide some perfectly tranquil river strolling.

7. Meriden Linear Gorge Trail along the Quinnipiac River, Meriden/Cheshire

The Quinnipiac River isn’t well known for it’s seclusion but here is an out and back with a little loop 3 mile walk that will surprise you.

Stunningly lush growth in the summer makes this a perfect place to appreciate the stark differences in scenery from season to season in New England.

8. Scantic River Trail, Enfield

1 mile each way is all you need to tread to enjoy this pristine section of the Scantic River in Enfield.

Gorgeous sections of whitewater rapids mix with peaceful lumbering ones to provide a diverse strolling experience. Filled with lush over growth, lumbering trees provide shade along this tightly wound little gem of a trail.

⛔️Remember to help protect our rivers and the surrounding trails and environment by LEAVING NO TRACE!

two dogs on zoar trail along housatonic river in connecticut
Zoar Trail

⛔️Remind others to pack out everything you carry in; all trash, bags, and food scraps.

I hope you enjoyed this post about Connecticut’s peaceful river walks & trails!

And continuing with the water vibe.. you might enjoy this post about 9 Connecticut Hikes with Water Views! 💦⛰📸

Girl and dog on overlook with the water below, green mountains and sunset in sky.

Looking for more summer adventures in CT?! Check out my post about Connecticut summer hikes and trails paired with local ice cream shops!

oreo ice cream cone at rich farms in bristol connecticut

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for this list. I love discovering new places to walk/hike. This is very western CT heavy. Come on over to the eastern side of the state and see what we have to offer.

    1. I love that, I agree!! If you have any favorites please comment below and let me know!! :))

  2. Hi,

    I just wanted to reach out and let you know that your content has been quite helpful for me.

    My friends from Allthingsaustria recommended your site and I’ve not been disappointed at all 🙂

    Cheers,
    Mihkael Caron

    1. Wow.. that is so so nice to hear! Thank you, Mihkael for taking the time to share that 🙂 Going to check out your friend’s Austria page right now!! How fun!! Here for any questions if you have them.. happy trails!

    1. Thanks, Marc! Favorites are definitely the Shepaug River in Steep Rock and the Medicine Rock Loop in Litchfield 🙂 Enjoy and let me know if you go!

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