Litchfield adventure guide for hiking, biking and water sports
Litchfield is teeming with adventure for those seeking time outdoors. Whether you are looking for a place to hike, water-ski, whitewater paddle, or hit the hills via mountain bike, there are some excellent spots in Litchfield County.
A few caveats before heading out: (1) Make sure you have a trail map or guide in order to navigate the terrain you’re going to cover; (2) Make sure to tell others where you’re going, even if you aren’t traveling into the tundra; and (3) Know your element—whether that means taking a lesson, joining a group, or getting professional safety advice before you venture out.
There are some great parks in Litchfield County that encompass everything from a quick, half-mile loop to a seven-mile trek, and all levels of ability.
Hidden Valley Preserve
Hidden Valley, some 650 acres of preserve in the Steep Rock Association, is a favorite spot for a quick, easy hike with your dog. A couple of beautiful footbridges cross the Shepaug River, creating a perfect loop to go up one side of the river and back down the opposite side.
Housatonic State Forest
The Housatonic State Forest consists of 10,000 acres, including land along the Appalachian Trail, and offers a variety of hikes for all levels, including waterfront scenes on the Housatonic River and panoramic vistas from higher spots.
Macedonia Brook State Park
The 2,300-acre Macedonia Brook State Park is a gem in the Kent area of Litchfield County. The sunset over the Catskills and Taconics to the west, on the Cobble Trail, is not to be missed.
Biking in Litchfield County consists primarily of road routes, some of the best in the state. For mountain- and
hybrid-biking, try River Road, from Falls Village to West Cornwall. This is a dirt road that runs along the Housatonic River that offers a beautiful, lightly traveled route.
White Memorial Conservation Center
You can hike, bike, take your dog for a walk, or jump in the river on a hot day. White Memorial is a nonprofit that provides environmental education, recreation, and conservation. It is a beautiful spot, providing easy access for all levels of outdoor skills.
There are numerous options for riding the waves, enjoying a leisurely float trip, or water skiing in northwest Connecticut, including kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and tubing. A few outfitters in the area offer guided instructional sessions or can simply rent you the gear you need, give you a map, and send you on your way.
The Housatonic and the Shepaug rivers are the two larger options in the area, with the Shepaug, rated as a class III by American Whitewater, being appropriate for more seasoned boaters. The Housatonic River goes from class I to class V. For fishing, sailing, swimming, and water-skiing, try Twin Lakes, Lake Waramaug, Bantam Lake, and Long Pond. Happy trails!
Guides & Outfitters: Having the right gear and support moves an adventure a notch up
Clarke Outdoors is an outfitter shop and on-the-water resource. It is an institution on the “Housie.” Among the original HACKS (Housatonic Area Canoe and Kayak Squad), Mark and Jennifer Clarke are veterans who know the river better than most people who also call it home.
Collinsville Canoe & Kayak is just outside the Litchfield line. It has a large selection of boats, including canoes and whitewater and recreation kayaks.
HouBikeWalk.org is an excellent resource for cycling and walking in Litchfield County.