9 Best Hikes in Connecticut with Water Views

9 Best Hikes in Connecticut with Water Views


When I started thinking about my favorite, go-to CT hikes with some of the best views in Connecticut, I realized a lot of them have something in common! They all overlooked some body of water. Lakes, ponds, reservoirs. And some even allow you to visit and pop in that water before or after the hike! (Which I have noted below for each one).

I grew up in CT and have enjoyed hiking here since high school (Sleeping Giant was and still is a common meet-up for friends!) so I definitely have several years of experience finding beautiful hikes in our state. Not only do these all have amazing views, but I liked that you get to see the water below which is what makes these 9 Connecticut views memorable and extra special. It’s a variation in the landscape AND if you go for sunrise or sunset you can catch some amazing colors reflected in that water!

So if you are looking for CT hikes with amazing views here’s a list of 9 views that offer more than just a sky of blue. Catch the water on a calm day (see Beseck Mountain at the bottom!) and you might see the sky and fluffy clouds reflecting back to you.

Take a look below and find your next favorite Connecticut hike view! From 2.2 miles to 7, there’s something for everyone and all are dog friendly!

1. Ratlum Mountain, Barkhamsted. Overlooks Lake McDonough, can swim and paddle here!

7 mile out and back, 1371 feet of elevation gain, rated moderate

Tip: If you are short on time and want to get to the lookout there is a pull off on Ratlum Rd. You can see the trail on AllTrails off of Ratlum Rd that links up to the full hike linked above. If you take this way keep your dog leashed as it does pass somewhat closely to homes and their property (but not uncomfortably close). This is a beautiful hike and view and faces southwest so while it doesn’t face directly west for sunset you still get some of the sunset colors during golden hour!

2. Crescent Lake and Metacomet Trail Loop, Plainville. Overlooks Crescent Lake, can swim and paddle here!

2.4 mile loop, 270 feet of elevation gain, rated moderate

Tip: If you are new to hiking this is a good one for you! The view also faces west so it’s really amazing for sunset as you get all the colors reflecting down below in the lake. There are tons of trails in here, some for mountain biking which you will see in blue on the AllTrails map, but you can make this a longer hike leading up to or after the view if you wanted to. Just be sure to have the map handy as you will encounter several trails and turns. If you want to get here for sunset, in order to not miss the view, start counterclockwise and about a mile in you will see the ledge that opens to the view. You can find this spot on the map where it says ‘Chimney’.

3. Lovers Leap, New Milford. Overlooks the Housatonic River, can swim and paddle here!

1.2 miles out and back, 200 feet of elevation gain, rated easy

Tip: Ok, this is a super short one but if you want to walk more there is more to be walked! Once you hit the view and take your pics or some deep breaths, continue on the trail to the left. After 1/10th of a mile you will come to N Lillinonah Lake Rd. Turn right and you will enjoy a walk on a beautiful country road with homes you wish you owned and clear views of the Housatonic River on your right. When I was here in June I saw a swan family, babies and all! Tried to zoom in as much as I could to get a clear shot but this was when I decided I need a better lens.

4. South Mountain, Berlin. Overlooks Merimere Reservoir

3.2 mile loop with 530 feet of elevation gain, rated easy

Tip: There’s a lot to this little hike. Though it is rated ‘easy’ on AllTrails it is a rocky trail so I would wear stable boots to protect your ankles. There is also always a super muddy section on the way out of this hike (if you go clockwise). I like how the hike starts along Elmere Reservoir so if you need some water for your dogs this would be a good spot to get some. One thing I am not crazy about with this one is the parking. You have to park alongside, parallel to, the road on Chamberlain Highway (route 71) which is really busy. So keep your dog or kids close next to you as you may have to walk a minute or two to get to the trailhead. 

5. Meeker Trail, Maricostas Preserve, New Preston. Overlooks Lake Waramaug, swim and paddle here

4 mile loop, 700 feet of elevation, rated moderate

Tip: This is one of my favorite hikes in the state. When you begin you will cross several wooden plank bridges over a marshy section with wildflowers on either side (except in winter!) and then it opens up to a beautiful field on a hill that you walk through. You then head up and into the woods where you start with a little climb. If you go clockwise you will come to a lookout but don’t stop there! Continue on (follow map link on AllTrails) until you get to Waramaug Rock. This faces west and I haven’t been up there for sunset but plan to someday!

6. Giuffrida Park, Meriden. Overlooks Bradley Hubbard Reservoir

4.4 mile loop with 750 feet of elevation gain, rated moderate

Tip: Make it shorter! If you don’t have time for the 4.4 mile loop cut it in half to 2.2 miles and still get the climb with the water view! Here is the link for the shorter loop. This is one I sometimes head to after work to meet friends. It is a popular spot with a good size lot that can sometimes get full. The lookout at the top also faces west making it amazing for sunset!

7. Hurd State Park, East Hampton. Overlooks the Connecticut River, swim and paddle here

Tip: You have two options to get to this overlook. There’s a 6 mile loop (labeled ‘Easy’) with 720 feet of elevation gain or a 2.7 mile loop with 400 feet of elevation gain. I would recommend either taking a screenshot of the map on AllTrails or downloading it (only if you have paid version) because there are lots of little trails in there and it can be tricky to know which one to take! Walk on up to the CT river before or after your hike with your dogs so they can cool off or splash around!

8. Ragged Mountain, Berlin. Overlooks Lower Hart Pond one one side of the loop and Wassel Reservoir on the other.

5.6 mile loop with almost 900 feet of elevation gain, rated moderate

Tip: For sunrise go clockwise and walk .8 miles to ‘sunrock’. You will see sunrock noted on the trail map on AllTrails with a yellow dot. This spot overlooks the pond below and faces directly east! It is a perfect place for sunrise as the walk in is under 30 minutes. Be sure to hit up a new coffee spot, Miel Coffee, in New Britain afterward! Seriously amazing lattes and very close to the hike (closed on Sundays!).

9. Beseck Mountain via Mattabesett Trail, Middlefield. Overlooks Black Pond, can paddle here

3.7 miles out and back, 800 feet of elevation gain, rated moderate

Tip: You have two options to get to this view. You can either do the full hike listed and linked above, or park at Black Pond and take a short trail up. Both are steep and challenging with lots of rock, it is not a smooth path so wear boots or stable shoes! At first this hike doesn’t seem like much because when you park you can still hear the traffic from the busier roads around but as you get further along that decreases and at the top you are walking along amazing, open cliffs with a view to the west. Lots of opportunities for pictures here just keep dogs and kids close as it is a cliff. Would love to come back here for sunset!

Tag RANDY SUN @randysunsports and Kristen @earlybirdonthetrail if you decide to share any pictures on Instagram. Would love to hear about some of your favorite views in Connecticut, too!

                                                                                             By Kristen

                                            Read more at EARLY BIRD ON THE TRAIL

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