Occasionally, there are moments in time when you forget yourself, when work requirements, family commitments, the to-do list all just fall away.
These moments can be rare, but when they happen, they can recharge your spirit, make your shoulders relax and allow your body to completely exhale.
As I trudged up Talcott Mountain State Park's Tower Trail Monday morning (yes, trudged — I was huffing and puffing a bit), I welcomed the sight of the well-worn path cutting through a strip of trees I assumed were the only things between me and the overlook I hoped to find.
I was right. On the other side was a breathtaking view of the Farmington Valley.
It was overcast, but the shadows did not completely subdue the vibrant oranges, yellows and random blazes of red that dotted the valley, interrupted only by fields, McMansions, a few commercial buildings and a golf course.
I allowed myself a moment to sit near the edge of the overlook on the granite that cut through the ground. I truly don’t do that — just sit — often enough. I’m not exactly sure how long I sat there — maybe 15 or 20 minutes — but it was long enough that I forgot myself.
Instead of thinking about deadlines, emails, spreadsheets and Google Docs, I was mesmerized by the swaying branches, the rustling of dried grass and the buzz of two bees close by. I stared at and past my boots, letting my eyes switch their focus between the laces, the trees and the horizon. Every once in a while I heard something that sounded like a construction vehicle whir by in the distance (turns out they were doing work on the trail), but it was background noise, nothing that snapped me out of my trance.
It took a black dog and his two female companions to remind me that my butt had fallen asleep from sitting on the rocks. I got up, stretched, checked my iPhone, smiled and continued on to the Heublein Tower to finish my hike.
I needed that. I needed to take in a scenic view from a breathtaking vista overlooking the brilliance that is Connecticut, New England, in autumn. It made me wonder where else in central and eastern Connecticut people can be so fortunate as to enjoy the wonders of fall, so I did what we do here at Patch: I asked.
The response from the local editors who work here and the readers we enjoy interacting with each day was spectacular. Below is an abbreviated list of some of their recommendations. Feel free to add your own in the comments:
- Pachaug State Forest, Voluntown (the Chapman or Green Falls area are both beautifal, but Mt. Misery provides a great vantage point.)
- Peace Nature Sanctuary, Mystic
- Oswegatchie Hills, East Lyme
- Hartman Park, Old Lyme and Lyme
- Rockland Preserve, Madison
- Guilford Land Conservation Trust, Guilford
- Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison
- Shenipsit State Forest, Observation Tower, Somers (note: The view is spectatular, but, unfortunately, the tower has been heavily graffitied, and not with the nice kind. Keep that in mind if you bring young'uns and you don't want to explain various 4 or 5 lettered words.)
- Mansfield Hollow State Park, Mansfield
- Lookout Mountain, Case Moutain Park, Manchester
- Enders Falls, Granby
- Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill
- Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden
- Higby Mountain, Middletown
- Metacomet Ridge in Middlefield rises above Black Pond to offer stunning views of central Connecticut, including Meriden's Castle Craig to the west and Middletown to the east. The blue blazed trails of the Metacomet are maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. (Best access: Black Pond located on the Middlefield/Meriden line. Take outer East Main Street to pond.)
- Mount Pisgah, Durham (use the blue blazed Mattabesett trail off of Pisgah Road and Cream Pot Road.)
- Bear Mountain: The highest peak in Connecticut offers a moderate challenge with some steep sections and a gradual incline. But the Bear Mountain trail - which is a section of the Appalachian Trail - rewards hikers with gorgeous views of the Litchfield hills, the Berkshire Mountains in Southern Massachusetts and the Taconic Mountains in New York.
- Steep Rock is an easy, walkable area that offers trails and beautiful scenery of the Shepaug River and the hills of Washington.