GREAT OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
What To Do and Where To Find It
in the State That’s Full of Surprises
Listings are cross-referenced by tourism district so that additional information can be found easily
in the Connecticut Vacation Guide, available free from 1-888-CT-VISIT (288-4748).
Kayaking and Canoeing
Hot Air Ballooning
Connecticut’s small size, great diversity of terrain and wide open spaces make it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Almost every type of outdoor activity has its following here. Great all-around resources are Connecticut Outdoor Activity Guide by Kelley Roark, Country Roads Press, $9.95 and Metro Sports Magazine, published 10 times a year, 203-924-0141 for a sample copy.
Alexander Pope created a national craze when he started manufacturing bicycles for America in his Hartford factory in 1878. Perhaps he was inspired by Connecticut’s rural countryside, tow-thirds of which is still open land and laced with trails and country roads. Bicycling is one of the best ways to take in the woodlands, country villages, farms and coastline.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Bicycle Map shows on-road bicycle routes; free. Write to Connecticut Department of Transportation, 2800 Berlin Tpke., P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Bicycle Book, a resource guide; $12.49 incl. tax and shipping. Contact CT Dept. of Environmental Protection, DEP-NRC Publication Sales, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106 / 860-424-3555.
- RESOURCE: Short Bike Rides in Connecticut by Muller and Griffith, Globe Pequot Press, $9.95, features descriptions and maps of scenic routes around the state. Available in bookstores, or call 800-243-0495.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Bicycle Newsletter, published seasonally with sources of special bike events, tours, races, etc. Contact Coalition of CT Bicyclists, P.O. Box 121, Middletown, CT 06457 / 860-786-4739.
- RESOURCE: Northeast Connecticut’s Quiet Corner Bicycle Guide shows on-road routes; free. Contact Northeast Connecticut Visitors District, P.O. Box 598, Putnam, CT 06260 / 860-928-1228.
- RESOURCE: Touring By Car, Foot, Boat, Bike offers biking loops in the Litchfield Hills, with points of interest, maps and events calendar; free. Contact Litchfield Hills Travel Council, P.O. Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759 / 860-567-4506.
EVENT: Connecticut Point Series, Connecticut’s mountain bike championship series, seven races, April-Sept. Contact Smart Cycles, 325 Westport Ave., Norwalk, CT 06851 / 203-847-2412.
- RESOURCE: The Ride Magazine covers all aspects of cycling in CT; weekly club rides/races schedule. For free copy, write: The Ride, Suite 16, 678 Cortland Circle, Cheshire, CT 06410 e-mail RideZine@aol.com.
- LOCATION: Lock 12 Historical Park, Rte. 42 off Rte. 10, Cheshire / 203-272-2743. Three-mile trail along restored section of Farmington Canal.
- LOCATION: Schoolhouse Brook Park, Clover Mill Rd. off Rte. 195, Mansfield / 860-429-3321. To register for access to 18 trails on 473 acres, contact Mansfield Parks and Recreation, 4 South Eagleville Rd., Mansfield, CT 06268-2599. Maps are available.
- LOCATION: Schreiber’s, Rte. 188S, Oxford / 203-888-0832. Mountain biking is available on the acreage of this family farm, which features gardens, pumpkin patch and farm animals.
- LOCATION: Talcott Mt. Reservoir Area, off Farmington Ave., West Hartford. For info and maps write The Metropolitan District Engineering Planning, 555 Main St., Hartford, CT 06106.
- LOCATION: Winding Trails Recreation Area, off Rte. 4, Farmington / 860-677-8458. This Farmington Valley site features 12 miles of well-marked trails for mountain biking, May 31-Oct. 31.
- LOCATION: Windsor Locks Canal Bicycle/Walking Trail, Windsor Locks, 1-800-248-8283.
- LOCATION: Woodbury Ski & Racquet Area, Rte. 47, Woodbury / 860-263-2203. Over 20 miles of cross-country terrain offers 36 trails perfect for year-round (weather permitting) mountain biking.
The very extensive network of trails throughout the state, including a section of the Appalachian Trail in the state’s northwest corner connecting Vermont and New York, have made hiking on of the most popular outdoor activities Connecticut offers visitors.
EVENT: Annual Walking Weekend, October, Northeast Connecticut. Dozens of guided walks over three days run the gamut from historic to nature-oriented, rugged to ramble. Contact Connecticut’s Quite Corner, P.O. Box 598, Putman CT 06260-0598/860-928-1228, fax 860-928-4720.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Vacation Guide contains a chart of State Parks and Forests listing facilities/activities. Hiking trails are indicated for 42 State Parks, nine State Forests and the state’s only National Park, Weir Farm. For a copy, call 1-800-CT-BOUND (1-800-282-6863).
- RESOURCE: Country Walks in Connecticut, Appalachian Mountain Club, distr. by Globe Pequot Press, $8.95, bookstores or 1-800-243-0495.
- RESOURCE: Hiking Maps for each sector of the state are available from DEP-State Parks, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106-5127/860-424-3200.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut’s Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails is a free map of the 700-mile Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail system, established by the non-profit Connecticut Forest and Park Association in 1929 and volunteer-maintained. CFPA, 16 Meriden Rd., Rockfall CT 06481 / 860-346-TREE.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Walk Book is published by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Inclusive of tax and shipping, it is priced at $21. Write: CFPA, 16 Meriden Rd., Rockfall CT 06481.
- RESOURCE: Backpack Camping Info Sheet, providing information on trails which offer overnight stopover areas, is available from DEP-State Parks Division, 79 Elm St., Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3200.
- RESOURCE: Quite Corner Getaway Guide, featuring 18 forests, farms and parks with walking/hiking trails. Contact Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, P.O. Box 598, Putman CT 06260-0598 / 860-928-1228, fax 860-928-4720.
- RESOURCE: Touring By Car, Foot, Boat, Bike offers hiking loops in the Litchfield Hills, with points of interest, maps; free. Contact Litchfield Hills Travel Council, P.O. Box 968, Litchfield CT 06759 / 860-567-4506.
- OUTFITTER: Black Duck Boat Works, 143 West St., New Milford CT 06776 / 860-350-5170. Canoe, kayak rentals, guided tours on Lake Lillinonah. May-Oct.
- OUTFITTER: Clarke Outdoors, 163 Rte. 7, West Cornwall CT 06796 / 860-672-6365, offers 10-mile flatwater and whitewater trips by kayak, canoe and raft, plus guided raft trips during spring high water. April-Oct.
- Connecticut Coastal Kayaking, 18 Oak Tree Lane, Lyme, CT 06371 / (860) 391-3837, Special events and tours along the lower Connecticut River and along Long Island Sound, private instructions. Boats and equipment provided.
- OUTFITTER: Down River Sports and Canoes, 1697 Old Saybrook Rd., Haddam CT 06438/860-345-8355, offers daily canoe rentals, group day-trip river barbecues and overnight group trips, including instruction, guides and equipment. March- Nov.
- Huck Finn Adventures/Underground Canoe Trips, P.O. Box 137, Collinsville CT 06022 / 860-693-0385. Float trips on the Farmington River, underground Park River trips in Hartford. Handicap services. Spring-Fall.
- OUTFITTER: Main Stream Canoe, P.O. Box 448, Rte. 44, New Hartford CT 06057 / 860-693-6791. Equipment rental, day and evening trips, kayak adventures.
- OUTFITTER: Mountain Workshop, P.O. Box 625, Ridgefield CT 06877 / 203-438-3640. Canoeing, whitewater and flatwater tours, plus sea kayaking, instruction, equipment and guides. Year-round.
- OUTFITTER: North American Whitewater Expeditions, 170 Boston Post Rd., #140, Madison CT 06443 / 1-800-RAPIDS-9. Housatonic rafting including class IV and V technical drops/spectacular waterfalls. Guides, equipment, lunch, shuttle. March-Oct.
- OUTFITTER: Sea Kayaking Company, 5 Sullivan Rd., Wallingford CT 06492 / 203-265-4147. Guided tours, moonlight paddles, shoreline picnics. May-Oct.
- OUTFITTER: Small Boat Shop/Kayak Tours, 144 Water St., Norwalk CT 06854 / 203-854-5223. Sea kayaking through the Norwalk Islands in Long Island Sound. Six-hour tours, equipment provided. May-Oct.
- OUTFITTER: White Creek Expeditions, 99 Myanos Rd., New Canaan CT 06840 / 203-966-0040. Canoe and kayak trips. Year-round.
- OUTFITTER: North American Canoe Tours, 65 Black Point Rd., Niantic CT 06357 / 860-739-0991. Contact for State Park canoe/kayak rental info.
The Farmington River, as it tumbles through the eastern Litchfield Hills, is very popular as a tubing site.
- OUTFITTER: North American Canoe Tours, 65 Black Point Rd., Niantic CT 06357 / 860-739-0791 or 693-6465. Farmington River tubing. June-Aug.
Over 50 private campgrounds–many with resort-style facilities and activities–plus State Park campgrounds have made roughing it a major pasttime.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Campgrounds Directory is available annually from the Connecticut Campground Owners Association, 14 Rumford St., West Hartford CT 06107 / 860-521-4704. Or Check outh the Web site, www.campconn.com.
- RESOURCE: Camping Brochure for State Campgrounds includes rules and policies at State Parks and State Campgrounds. River Camping is a brochure with information for campers wishing to boat and camp. Also available: Campsite Reservation Forms, Site Maps for individual sectors of State campgrounds, and Parks Directory. Contact DEP-State Parks Division, 79 Elm St., Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3200.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Vacation Guide contains a chart of state parks and forests listing camping facilities at 14 State Parks and 3 State Forests. To obtain a copy, call 1-800-CT-BOUND (1-800-282-6863).
DOWNHILL SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING
All five downhill ski areas–Mohawk Mountain, Mt. Soughington, Powder Ridge, Ski Sundown and Woodbury Ski & Racquet Area–permit snowboarding. Excellent snowmaking capabilities (snowmaking was invented in Connecticut), night skiing, ski schools, equipment rental, and food service are featured. Gentle, non-intimidating slopes appeal to beginners and families.
- EVENT: Connecticut Learn to Ski Day takes place every January and is intended for beginners. The five ski areas take reservations after New Year’s for a limited number of free ski packages for new skiers. For detains, contact ski area of your choice once ski season has begun.
- EVENT: Annual Salisbury Invitational Ski Jump & U.S. Easter Ski Jump Championships are held every February and feature Olympic-level competition on the 55-meter jump. Call 860-435-9729.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Vacation Guide contains a chart of ski areas with statistics on chairlifts and downhill trails. To obtain a copy, call 1-800-CT-BOUND (1-800-282-6863).
In addition to the state’s cross-country skie areas–Cedar Brook, Pine Mountain, White Memorial Foundation and Winding Trails–State Parks and Forests offer trails. The profusion of B&Bs make cross-country skiing a popular weekend getaway. Five State Forests permit snowmobiling.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Vacation Guide contains a chart of cross-country skie areas with statistics on miles of trails, as well as a State Park/Forest chart with cross-country trails and snowmobiling access indicated. To obtain a copy, call 1-800-CT-BOUND (1-800-282-6863).
SALT WATER FISHING
With a few exceptions, most charter and party fishing boats in connecticut are based in the New London area. A few are farther south, in the Norwalk or Bridgeport areas. No license is required for marine fishing.
- RESOURCE: Inquiries regarding saltwater fishing regulations in connecticut can be addressed to Marine Fisheries Office, 333 Ferry Rd., P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme CT 06371-0280 / 860-434-6043.
- RESOURCE: Anglers Guide is the basic bible of fishing in Connecticut. It is available free form Connecticut DEP-Fisheries Division, 79 Elm St., Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3474.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Vacation Guide contains an extensive listing of charter fishing and party fishing boats alon the Connecticut coastline. To obtain a copy, call 1-800-CT-BOUND (1-800-282-6863).
FRESH WATER FISHING
The open season for fishing in lakes and ponds starts on the third Saturday in April and ends on the last day of February of the following year for trout-stocked ponds and on March 31 of the following year for other ponds and lakes. Licenses, required for angleser 16 years and over, are available as three-day or season documents from any Town Clerk in the state.
- OUTFITTER: Housatonic Anglers, 484 Rte. 7, West Cornwall CT 06796 / 860-672-4457. April 1-Oct. 30, weekends only, fly-fishing guide service and instruction, including shoreside lunch.
- RESOURCE: Anglers Guide is the basic bible of fishing in Connecticut. Connecticut Fish Distribution Report contains useful information on bodies of water throughout the state, the varieties of fish and amounts of each they are stocked with. Both are free from DEP-Fisheries Division, 79 Elm St., Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3474.
- RESOURCE: A Guide to Lakes and Ponds of Connecticut, a best seller, contains depth maps, species info and more, for $4.65; Connecticut’s Bass Fishing features in-depth info on 24 best bass lakes, plus best lure chart, for $3.95. In-state residents add 6 percent tax, $3 handling per order, payable to DEP Publications. Send to NRC Publication Sales, 79 Elm St., Store Level/4FF, Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3555.
- RESOURCE: Connecticut Vacation Guide contains a chart of one National and 39 State Parks, plus 8 State Forests that have on-site fishing. To obtain a copy, call 1-800-CT-BOUND (1-800-282-6863).
There are between 125,000 and 150,000 boats on and around Long Island Sound, which laps against 253 miles of Connecticut shoreline, and countless others on Connecticut’s main rivers–the Connecticut, Thames, Housatonic and Quinnipiac–and many lakes, such as Candlewood. Boating is on of the most popular pastimes in the state.
- RESOURCE: Boaters Guide, a digest of boating regulations, tidal and freshwater access areas and directions to them, is available free form Connecticut DEP-Boating Division, 333 Ferry Rd., P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme CT 06371-0280 / 860-434-8638.
- RESOURCE: Complete Long Island Sound Boating Guide describes access, facilities, anchorages and eateries, plus two-sided navigational chart of entire Sound. 460pp., $39.95 plus 6 percent tax for in-state residents and $3 handling payable to DEP Publications; write NRC Publication Sales, 79 Elm St., Store Level/4FF, Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3555.
- RESOURCE: The Complete Boating Guide to the Connecticut River and Connecticut River Navigational Chart are $11.95 and $14.95 respectively, plus six percent tax for in-state residents and $3 handling per order, payable to DEP Publications. The guide has maps, facilities, ramps, access, history, interest points and ecology. Write to NRC Publication Sales, 79 Elm St., Store Level/4FF, Hartford CT 06106-5127 / 860-424-3555.
HOT AIR BALLOONING
Connecticut’s topography lends itself to hot-air ballooning, and the number of outfitters prove that. The Farmington Valley, the Litchfield Hills and the Connecticut River Valley are popular routes.
- EVENT: Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, Plainville, every Auguest. Contact the Central Connecticut Tourism District for exact dates and details, 1 Grove St., Suite 310, New Britain CT 06053 / 860-225-3901.
- EVENT: Northwest Connecticut Balloon Festival & Craft Fair, Goshen Fairgrounds, Rte. 63, Goshen, 860-489-3378. June event includes 25 hot air balloons, thethered balloon rides, hot air balloon glow, juried crafters, rides, entertainment, fireworks.
Adventure Balloon, Inc. – Plymouth / 860-584-1300.
Airvertising & Airventures – W. Simsbury / 860-651-4441, 800-535-2473.
A Windriders Balloon – Farmington / 860-677-0647.
Beaver Brook Hot Air Balloon Services – Cheshire / 203-271-2004.
Berkshire Balloons – Southington / 203-250-8441.
Brighter Skies Ballon Co. – Woodstock / 860-963-0600, 800-677-5114.
Connecticut Yankee Balloons – Fairfield / 203-255-1929.
Emerald City Balloon Co. – Manchester / 860-647-8581.
Gone Ballooning – Oxford / 203-888-1322.
Kat Balloons – Farmington / 860-678-7921.
Livingston Ballon Co. – Simsbury / 860-651-1110.
Mooney Time – Woodbury / 203-263-0167.
Sky Endeavors Inc. – Bloomfield / 860-242-0228.
Steppin’ Up Balloons – Southbury / 203-264-0013.
Watershed Balloons – Watertown / 860-274-2010.
For a free Connecticut Vacation Kit call:
1-888-CT-VISIT, 1-888-288-4748 (net)