Connecticut Fall Foliage Drive
Hidden in the heart of Litchfield County is the crossroads village of New Preston, perched above a 40-foot waterfall on the Aspetuck River. Just north of here you'll find Lake Waramaug, nestled in the rolling foothills and Mt. Tom, both ablaze with rich color every fall.
Start in New Milford and stroll along historic Main Street. Here you'll find New England's longest green and many shops, galleries, and restaurants within a short walk. Hop in the car and drive south on Main Street, then turn left to head north on wooded Route 202. About 4 mi north of the town green is the Silo at Hunt Hill Farm Trust. The former property of the late Skitch Henderson, onetime music director of NBC and the New York Pops, consists of a gallery, cooking school, and gift store housed in the buildings of two farms dating to the 1700s. Continue north on Route 202 to the junction of Route 45 and follow signs for Lake Waramaug.
Best Time to Go
Peak foliage in Connecticut occurs between October 9 and November 9, according to the state's Department of Environmental Protection (www.ct.gov/dep 800/282-6863). In season, their Web site includes daily updates on leaf color. Hope for a wet spring, warmer fall days, and cool nights (but not freezing) for the most dramatic color display.
Route 45 will bring you through the tiny village center of New Preston; stop here for a bit of shopping at Dawn Hill Antiques. Take 45 North and follow signs for Lake Waramaug. The 8-mi drive around the lake is stunning in autumn with fiery foliage reflected in the water. The beach area of Lake Waramaug State Park (about halfway around the lake) is a great place for a picnic, or perhaps even a quick dip on a warm fall day. Hopkins Vineyard is open daily for wine tasting; on Sundays book ahead for the delectable brunch at Boulders Inn on East Shore Road with spectacular lake views.
After completing a loop of Lake Waramaug, head back to Route 202 North toward Litchfield. Another excellent leaf peeping locale is Mt. Tom State Park, about 3 mi or so from the junction of Routes 45 and 202. Here you can hike the mile-long trail to the summit and climb to the top of a stone tower that provides 360-degree views of the countryside's colors. After your hike, continue north on Route 202, ending your journey in the quintessential New England town of Litchfield. Peruse the shops and galleries in the town center and end the day with a dinner at the chic West Street Grill.
It's only about 30 mi from New Milford to the center of Litchfield, but with stops at the Silo at Hunt Hill, Lake Waramaug, and Mt. Tom you could easily spend half the day enjoying the scenery.
Need a Break?
Dawn Hill Antiques. Dawn Hill Antiques is filled with antiques that the owners have discovered on their regular trips to Sweden. 11 Main St., New Preston, CT, 06777. 860/868-0066. www.dawnhillantiques.com.
Hopkins Vineyard. This vineyard offers wine tastings and produces more than 13 varieties of wine, from sparkling to dessert. A wine bar in the hayloft serves a fine cheese-and-pâté board and has views of the lake. 25 Hopkins Rd., off N. Shore Rd., New Preston, CT, 06777. 860/868-7954. www.hopkinsvineyard.com. $6.50 for a tasting, $10 for a tour. Hours vary.
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