Scenic Crescent Lake Hike, Sunset Rock State Park, CT

Wander the 2.5-mile loop that winds around Crescent Lake and up to a spectacular lookout atop Bradley Mountain. Arrive to the lookout for sunset and witness the inspiration behind the name Sunset Rock State Park.

The Crescent Lake loop hike within Sunset Rock State Park is located in a quiet residential area of Southington just minutes off I-84. Crescent Lake (aka Plainville Reservoir) sits at the western base of Bradley Mountain – a traprock mountain that’s part of southern New England’s Metacomet Ridge and Connecticut’s Metacomet Trail.

I’ve lived in CT most of my life and have been hiking here for decades. This hike remains one of my favorite centrally located hikes in the state. It’s not too long, it’s got amazing views and water for the dogs!

Further below in the post, I provide detailed turn-by-turn instructions as it can be tricky to know which trail to take in here given the other mountain biking trails within the park.

Once a protected reservoir, Crescent Lake is also a popular spot to fish! Licenses for fishing and boating are required here.

Crescent Lake to Sunset Rock: General Trail Description

  • 2.4 miles, 301 feet of elevation, moderate, dog-friendly on leash
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.64707, -72.84223
  • Address: 495 Shuttle Meadow Road, Southington (large parking lot!)

On this 2.4-mile loop, you’ll get a sample of the 62.3-mile blue-blazed Metacomet Trail as the loop merges with the Metacomet during the first portion of the loop up and over Bradley Mountain.

You’ll find ample parking at Crescent Lake Park on Shuttle Meadow Road as well as amenities like picnic areas and portapotties. 

The blue and orange trail starts just to the right of the lake entering a lush forest of hardwoods and evergreens, offering a cool, shaded canopy even on warm summer days. You’ll find short paths that lead left down to the lake should your dog need to hydrate in the first half mile before the elevation begins. 

dogs on mountain in connecticut for sunset with lake in distance

At the half mile mark you’ll turn left and start the ascent toward the lookout on Bradley Mountain which you’ll reach at about 0.8 miles. Getting closer to the view you’ll notice the rocky trail turning to padded pine as well as the remains of a tall stone fireplace that was likely part of the farmland in the late 1800s. 

Take in the expansive view facing west over Crescent Lake and the Quinnipiac River Valley from multiple rocky escarpments. 

After leaving the views you’ll begin the gentle descent heading toward the other side of the lake. At about one and a half miles the blue and orange blazes turn to lime green and take you along the shores of the lake once again.

Keep dogs close on the leash as you will end the hike walking a tenth of a mile along Shuttle Meadow Road to arrive back at the parking lot and close out the loop.


There are a few trails here at Crescent Lake Park and some are for mountain bikers. So I provide detailed instructions below so you don’t lose your way! Of course you can also just follow the AllTrails app and map if you are good at that kind of thing. 🙂

1. Find the trailhead kiosk to the right of the lake behind the portapotty and begin the hike here on the blue/orange blazed trail.

brown and black dog walking on leash on a dirt trail in connecticut at summertime with green forest all around

2. At 0.08 and at 0.11 miles stay to the left to follow the blue/orange trail.

3. At 0.14 miles, bear right again to stay on the blue/orange trail. 

4. At 0.52 miles, take a sharp left at the juncture to stay on the blue/orange trail and begin the ascent along the wide and rocky path.

5. At 0.68 miles, you’ll be at the top of the hill and see a Metacomet Trail sign to the left on a tree. Turn left here where you’ll merge with the Metacomet Trail and continue on the blue/orange trail. 

6. At 0.78 miles, you’ll notice a large stone fireplace where you’ll bear left to continue following the blue/orange trail.

fireplace atop bradley mountain in ct

7. At 0.82 miles, you’ll arrive at the western facing lookout over Crescent Lake.

8. At 0.93 miles, bear left to stay on the blue/orange trail and start an initial descent towards the lake.

9. At 1 mile, stay to the left on the trail with the orange marker.

brown dog walking on hiking path in ct with rocks and trees

10. At 1.23 miles, come to a juncture and stay straight onto the blue/orange trail..

11. At 1.35 miles, stay left and follow the blue/red trail.

12. At 1.56 miles, turn left onto the lime green trail and start another gentle descent toward the lake.

13. At 2.03 miles, bear right onto the orange trail and you’ll notice the lake on the left through the trees.

We stopped at the lake here for a night swim!

man and black dog swimming in crescent lake in southington

14. At 2.37 miles you’ll reach Shuttle Meadow Road and will see the parking on the left. Turn left to walk along the side of Shuttle Meadow Road for the last tenth of a mile to the lot.

That’s it, friends!

I hope you enjoyed this post detailing how to get to Sunset Rock via Crescent Lake in Southington.

Do go for sunset and let me know below how you like it or if you have any questions! 🙂

Happy Trails!! 🐶💗🐾

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