Best Easy Day Hikes Fairfield County  by Steve Mirsky

Best Easy Day Hikes: Fairfield County Guide Book

by Steve Mirsky (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Fairfield County  by Steve Mirsky
Best Easy Day Hikes Fairfield County includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for twenty easy-to-follow hikes in southwestern Connecticut. Whether you want to beachcomb, enjoy lakeside vistas from under evergreens, or do some ridge walking for panoramic views, this guide covers the best places to escape from civilization.

© 2009 Steve Mirsky/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Fairfield County" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

This loop takes you through 295 acres of woodland featuring a rich diversity of meadow, hardwood forest, vernal ponds, and streams. The main entrance of the Greenwich Audubon takes you directly to the parking lot in front of the visitor center, a large, architecturally significant building with peaked gables high on a hill overlooking open meadow and apple orchards. The Hillside Trail begins through a field interspersed with cedar trees and briars to the right.
Armonk, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.16
Once a working farmstead at the crest of a hill overlooking meadows and gently rolling wooded hills, this 140-acre parcel is now a city of Danbury park. The red trail in Bear Mountain Reservation is a graceful loop through fields, passing the foundation of a barn and stone walls, into medium-growth deciduous forest with views of the Danbury Bay section of Candlewood Lake in the distance through the trees. From the trailhead, follow the Red Trail. Immediately to your left will be an old barn foundation that clearly survived a fire since any wood pieces embedded in the stone are charred. Farther along, you’ll pass a few old apple trees fringing wide-open fields that slope down toward the woods’ edge to your right in the distance, providing good views of the hills beyond.
Danbury, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.67
At 883 acres, Collis Huntington State Park packs in plenty of trails to explore what was once a private land reserve containing five ponds and well-graded carriage roads winding past steep rock formations, miles of streams, and through fields that at times fringe mixed woodlands.
Redding, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.42
A quick getaway into nature, this trail passes through large portions of wooded marsh perfect for bird-watching.
Fairfield, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.56
Lots of history can be seen at sites along this trail if you pay attention. The mill pond and portable sawmill can’t be missed with well-marked, descriptive signage throughout this remote preserve, which is part of the largest contiguous parcel of open space in Fairfield County. This route begins with climbing a hill through dense laurel with a house directly to your left through the trees. As the laurel thins, you’ll see stone walls crisscrossing amidst mid- growth beech, oak, and black birch. Cross over a swift-moving brook on a wooden bridge wide enough for a small vehicle to pass over at 0.39 mile. As soon as the trail makes an abrupt left shortly after this bridge, its name changes to the Godfrey Trail.
Weston, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.09
Most of the Paugussett Trail on this hike beginning at Indian Well State Park follows a rugged ridgeline through some remarkable old-growth stands of oak and hemlock. Views of the Housatonic River Valley will feature most prominently as you gain elevation. The Indian Well falls spur takes you to the entrance of a foot path that leads up to a medium-size waterfall with a swimming hole at the bottom, popular during summer months. If you visit Indian Well State Park in the summer, you’ll notice right away that swimming is the main attraction here. Situated on the western banks of another dammed-up portion of the Housatonic River, the park’s large sandy beach attracts crowds from surrounding towns.
Shelton, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.09
This publicly accessible stretch of sandy beach in Fairfield can be elusive if you don’t know exactly where to look for parking that doesn’t require a permit. And once you’re strolling through sea breezes and soaking in the picturesque views, you’ll understand why residents may want to keep it that way.
Fairfield, CT - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 4.74
As part of the Lower Paugussett State Forest, a portion of the Lake Zoar Trail covered in this hike is designated as scenic, often providing close-up lake views hugging the shore under a dense canopy of extremely tall hemlocks. Depending on the season, it’s difficult to discern that you are not in the backwoods of Vermont or Canada instead of southern New England. The trail begins close along the steep shore through thick yet wide-open hemlock forest. Steep rugged banks plunge into the water on the opposite shore to your right, making the views extra beautiful. A public pavilion will come into prominent view through light tree cover at 0.52 mile. Here the shore is about 25 feet away from the trail and pretty level with the water.
Seymour, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.46
This hike takes you along the western shore of Lake Lillinonah for half of the route in the Upper Paugusett State Forest in Newtown. Here, rock outcroppings overlooking the lake are frequently used by nesting bald eagles and hawks. The trail then veers into a mix of evergreen and logged deciduous before connecting to a relatively flat and wide wood road lined with stonewalls on either side. As part of the Upper Paugussett trail system, the Lillinonah Trail gives you frequent lake views through the trees hugging the shore high above the water line. To reach this shoreline portion first, do not take the logging road behind the brown metal gate that is immediately apparent alongside the parking lot. Instead, walk back down the dirt road you just came in on for a few hundred feet and look for blue markings on the trees. As soon as you reach a red barn to your right, take a left and follow the Blue Trail down along a stone wall into the forest, leading you toward Lake Lillinonah, which is really a dammed-up portion of the Housatonic River.
Danbury, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.65
This park contains a network of trails beginning at Cognewaugh Road in Greenwich that winds past rock outcroppings, wooded ledges, and small knolls through a mixed forest featuring oak, beech, and hemlock.
Stamford, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.24
This hike takes you through several markedly different types of terrain from rolling, wide-open hayfields, past a lake and pond, to rocky scrambles and a steep ascent to Mootry Peak Overlook. One feature common throughout this route in Tarrywile Park is views of rolling hills, making you forget that you are in fact within the city limits of Danbury.
Danbury, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
Even though the town of Trumbull has limited open space and you’re in fact never far from civilization (i.e., highway noise and residential development), once on this greenway, you feel as though you’re miles away from anything connected with suburbia.
Trumbull, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5.02
Take this hands-on walk through history at the site of the Continental Army’s 1779 winter encampment under the command of General Israel Putnam in Bethel. Actual encampment remains await exploration along with reconstructed officers’ barracks. This interpretive trail in Putnam Memorial State Park is much more a trail of discovery than one of challenge and scenery. If you desire more of a workout after visiting, combine it with the loop in Collis Huntington State Park, as covered in the next chapter, which is only a ten-minute drive away.
Redding, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.95
Approximately 1.5 miles of this route offer spectacular views of the Saugatuck Reservoir from high atop a ridge while much of the trail is moderate in grade.
Weston, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This is a trail of contrasts beginning amidst a strong residential presence surrounding Pierrepont Pond on flat terrain level with the pond shore. Soon the loop departs from this environment altogether into hillier terrain high atop ridges with no houses in sight. Sometimes you feel as if you are in the middle of the wilderness until you round a corner and there you are, back in a neighborhood!
Ridgefield, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.91
This route takes you through some of the best views of Long Island Sound in Fairfield County. Winding past saltwater marsh, through oak groves, and alongside over 2 miles of beach, this hike is only one of the diverse activities that Sherwood Island offers. Public access to the Connecticut coast is hard to come by. You have to be vigilant and know exactly where to go for the best spots. In Fairfield County, Sherwood Island’s 235 oceanfront acres is the largest and most prominent oceanfront preserve open to the public. Trails, which are really access roads, are readily apparent. Following this route takes you along the park’s entire coast as well as some marsh and forested sections.
Westport, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.32
Most of this loop either skirts close along the west shore of Squantz Pond or offers remarkable views of the pond from a higher elevation. A common geological feature throughout the hike are large boulder falls hugging the steep hillside as far as the eye can see upward and down to the water’s edge. In addition to stepping across and between boulders, the loop’s upper portion winds past large rock formations, some of them modest caves.
New Milford, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.29
This route covers a wide range of shore environments, with facilities at both ends. At the beginning, there are two sitdown seafood and steak restaurants, and at the other end in Short Beach Park, you’ll have toilet and bathing facilities along with a concession stand in season at your disposal. Best of all, since you’ll be walking into this park, you won’t have to pay admission.
Stratford, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
Much of this route is a great exercise walk because it isn’t overly strenuous yet progresses at a steady grade through an interesting variety of terrain. Even though you’ll begin by climbing up onto a rugged ridgeline, trails are carved into the terrain, making it feel effortless passing through dense evergreen groves, wooded marsh, narrow cliffs, and wideopen meadows. Trails on this route are clearly marked and have detailed maps posted at most intersections. This route begins flat on White Trail for a short distance. You’ll quickly turn left onto the Red Trail, crossing an earthen dam that appears to be part of a flood control system. Behind the dam will be an extensive marsh to your right with a sizable stream flowing under the dam.
Weston, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 4.19
A hidden gem of open space that even many locals aren’t aware of, Webb Mountain Park in Monroe contains campsites and trails through dense hemlock and mixed deciduous, with an overlook spur high above the Housatonic River valley. From the parking lot, take the Red Trail from the upper left corner over a wooden footbridge. The trail passes through mixed forest of beech, ash, and hemlock with a brook to your left. A wide-open trail gradually descends into mostly dense hemlock. The landscape is rugged in appearance but the walking is easy. The next wooden footbridge at 0.35 mile crosses this brook again. Straight ahead is the Orange Trail and to your left over the bridge and up the hill is the Red Trail. Take this Red Trail as a spur to the overlook and return to this point, continuing on the Orange Trail.
Ansonia, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.56
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