Best Places to Hike in Central Connecticut

Since the Corona-virus pandemic has started, the majority of the population has been limited to the inside of their homes. The biggest challenge has been to find ways to occupy the mind. There’s only so much that can be done around the house, and once the last junk drawer has been organized, people are left with extreme boredom. With many of the entertainment hubs in the area shut down, a new trend has emerged. Hiking has become one of the leading activities for people looking to get out of the house. There are trails for all types of hikers. They range from flat and short to steep and long, but one thing is for certain, they provide a great experience that will get your mind off of the pandemic currently happening. In this article, we will go over the 5 best places to hike in or around Central Connecticut. Be sure to check one of them out!

Ragged Mountain

Ragged Mountain has arguably the best view from the top of the mountain. With a maximum elevation of 761 feet, the view ranges all the way from Hartford, to Lake Compounce, to Castle Craig! The trails are easily accessible, and can be found with out much work. There are different ways to hike up the mountain, but they all lead to the same place. The hike itself is rather challenging, as the mountain is very steep in spots and depending on the trail. However, as long as you aren’t going too fast up the mountain it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Climb the mountain to experience one of the best views the State of Connecticut has to offer as photos do not do this view justice. The nature preserve can be found in Berlin, but there are other trails in Southington and New Britain.

View from the top of Ragged Mountain

Castle Craig

Castle Craig is a main attraction at Hubbard State Park located in Meriden, CT. You may know Hubbard Park as the place where all of the Christmas lights are displayed in December, but Castle Craig is what draws in visitors during the summer. With an elevation of 976 feet, hikers can see from the Massachusetts Berkshires all the way to the Long Island Sound. That is truly remarkable. At the top of the mountain there is a small cylindrical castle made of stone that was donated in the early 1900’s. Hence the name, Castle Craig. While there is an option to climb to the castle on a paved slight incline, we recommend other trails for the more experienced hikers. The blue trail in particularly, will have you out of breath with the steep inclines along the way. However, this trail provides views that you normally wouldn’t be able to access on the traditional route. Definitely think about it if you are up for a challenge!

Castle Craig towering over parts of New Haven County

Sleeping Giant

Sleeping Giant is very similar to Castle Craig for a few reasons. Both of these locations feature a stone built castle at the tops of their mountains and also have a long moderately steep climb. Sleeping Giant is a state park located in Hamden, CT. Mt. Carmel is the main attraction in the park, as it can get very crowded on the weekend, weather permitting. The mountain got its name a very long time ago, when Natives thought that it looked like a person sleeping under the terrain. Aside from the castle, there are many other spots to sit at the peak, including rock faces overlooking some parts of the state. The trail was designed to be easy but tiring, so anyone can really climb it, as it is a slight incline the entire way. The top the castle can be accessed although it should be noted that it has been closed during the pandemic. Sleeping Giant is a great place to enjoy a nice day with a great lunch!

View from the top of the castle at Sleeping Giant

Talcott Mountain State Park

Talcott Mountain is located in the Avon/Simsbury area. It consists of about a mile and a half hike up a mountain with a beautiful view at the top. At the top is a large, 165 foot tower the overlooks much of the state. The tower was built in 1913 by a prominent Hartford family who used it as their summer home. The tower was originally owned by Gilbert Heublein, who is most known for manufacturing A-1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff vodka. In 1943 the tower was purchased by the Hartford Times where they hosted parties and gatherings for around 20 years. Over time several prominent figures have visited the tower including Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Now it serves as a great spot to hike with an amazing view of Hartford. The tower itself also has a museum associated with it to add to the activities to do at the top of the mountain. Overall this is one of the best places to hike in the state with views that will leave you very satisfied.

Heublein Tower reaching 165 feet in the air

Gillette Castle

Gillette Castle is located in Lyme, Connecticut and used to be the home of actor William Gillette. Gillette was most well known for his role as Sherlock Holmes. He started construction on the 24 room, 14,000 square foot home in 1914 and didn’t finish until 1919. In 1924 he also added an addition to the home. Gillette did not have any children, so when he passed away in 1943, the State of Connecticut took it over. Now it serves as a museum and a great location to go for a hike. While it only reaches the max elevation of 213 feet, the placement of the castle is perfect for some great views of the Connecticut River. The inside of the home is preserved to its original state, to give a look inside Gillette’s mind when he was building the castle.

Gillette Castle

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