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Connecticut fall foliage touring

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Did You Know … ?

  • Forests cover 56% of Connecticut, and roughly three-quarters of the forests are privately owned.
  • Connecticut’s forest-based recreation economy generates roughly $1.2 billion annually.
  • Oak/hickory trees make up more than 72% of the state’s forest cover.
  • B.F. Clyde’s in Old Mystic is America’s oldest and last steam-powered cider mill (1881).
  • Connecticut’s standing forest contains 96 billion tons of timber five inches in diameter or larger.

Leafy views

No one needs to be told New England is a region known for its bright displays of fall foliage, and Connecticut is part of that patchwork of color. With careful planning, a leaf-peeping fanatic could watch the colors change several times per season by moving more or less from north to south in New England, also from the mountains to the valleys.

In the case of Connecticut, leaves typically begin to change first in the northwest and northeast corners of the state, and this can be as soon as the last week of September. The season doesn’t last very long, which means hotels and inns can fill up quickly; it’s a good idea to have reservations and to make reservations early.

The most popular ways to view the leaves include scenic journeys by car, on a bicycle or on foot — and occasionally on a short touristic rail journey. Other choices involve taking to the water on fall foliage cruises or the self-propelled way, in a canoe or kayak.

Fall foliage season is a time when large portions of the year’s crops are brought in, giving rise to harvest fairs across Connecticut. Apples and pumpkins are popular as centerpieces; visitors can pick their own, as well.

Tourists can combine their leaf peeping with other seasonal activities, too, especially Halloween and Oktoberfest. Some towns, what with their historic cemeteries and other sites, have ghost tours. As for the autumnal celebration of beer, several Connecticut towns host Oktoberfests at about the time area trees are lighting the sky.

Connecticut is a year-round destination, offering visitors a plethora of trails for hiking and biking plus scenic roadways and waterways. But, in autumn, the active outdoor lover collects an extra reward in the scenery while hiking across the countryside or paddling down a river. It’s a good time to be out and about in this small New England state.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Test your skills in an apple pie-eating contest at the Apple Harvest Festival held in October in Glastonbury.
  • Choose any of the state’s 800 miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails as the setting for limitless leaf peeing — and photography.
  • Plan a fall foliage tour to coincide with one of the local Oktoberfests in Meriden, Middlebury or Windsor.
  • Choose Hammonasset State Park for fishing, camping and hiking. This is Connecticut’s largest shoreline park.
  • Bike the 25-mile Canterbury/Scotland Loop just as the colors are changing. Or, take in the scenery from the back of a horse in the rolling Litchfield Hills.
  • Enjoy the colorful backdrop as you canoe through the salt marshes of the Milford Point Coastal Center. Another choice: Kayak, canoe or fish on the Housatonic River.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Combine leaf-peeping time with Mystic Seaport’s Chowder Days, held in October.
  • Autumn colors and Halloween coincide, more or less. Take a ghost tour in New Haven or Wallingford.
  • Sample the Octoberfest lager at Thomas Hooker Brewing Company in Bloomfield (only available from Labor Day to Oct. 31). Or, pursue autumnal craft beer at one or more of the breweries on the Connecticut Beer Trail.
  • Make a themed driving journey double as a foliage event. Choices are the Connecticut Wine Trail, for fall wine blends and pairings; Connecticut Barn Trail to get an inside look at historic farms, and the Connecticut Antiques Trail in Woodbury. Or, drive the Merritt Parkway, a National Scenic Byway.
  • Go to the fair. The Durham Fair, in September, is the state’s largest agricultural fair, literally featuring tons of food. Or consider Groton’s Annual Fall Festival.
  • In October, take a foliage cruise out of Haddam on the lower Connecticut River.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Dine or overnight in Kent or find another way to include this “favorite foliage town” on your itinerary.
  • Take a hayride through the pumpkin patch of the Jones Family Farm in Shelton. Or, attend the Seymour Pumpkin Festival in September.
  • Take in the autumn colors from as far away as the Massachusetts Berkshires to Long Island Sound by climbing Castle Craig Tower in Meriden’s Hubbard Park. Or take in sweeping views from atop the Pequot Museum’s 18-story observation tower in Mashantucket.
  • Head to the orchards to pick pumpkins and/or applies.
  • Watch cider being made at B.F. Clyde’s in Old Mystic.
  • At the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston, take a fall foliage train journey through picturesque Litchfield County.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Connecticut Office of Tourism at www.ctvisit.com