Each autumn, as leaves turn from green to yellow, orange, and red, northern New England becomes the focus for foliage aficionados. The forests of Connecticut need not take a back seat to their northern neighbors, however, as they have much to offer as well.
Just a few miles short of the New York border, before exiting Connecticut, the Appalachian Trail runs along the Housatonic River and climbs to the top of Caleb’s Peak (1,160 ft.). Located near the northern tip of the 3.5-million acre Mid-Atlantic Highlands, this forest has been a conservation priority for years—and in October its ash, beech, birch, hickory, and oak trees reward visitors with a colorful show on par with any other in New England.
“In any season, Caleb’s Peak offers beautiful views of the Housatonic Valley and the village of Kent, but fall color makes it one of the outstanding viewpoints in western Connecticut,” says Alden Warner, Jr., a Connecticut Chapter member, avid photographer, and frequent hiker in the area.
To enjoy these views yourself, take Skiff Mountain Road north from Kent and park near the AT crossing. Head north on the AT for 0.7 mile where a lookout offers some of the best views of the surrounding area. From there, continue north to a second lookout, and then beyond to St. Johns Ledge. The AT near St. Johns Ledge is steep and exposed so visitors should use extreme caution while hiking this section.
You can either return the way you came, or continue a short distance to River Road where a right-hand turn will take you south and back to Skiff Mountain Road.
Distance: 2.8 miles, out-and-back
Info: AMC’s conservation efforts in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Region; The Highlands Coalition; Appalachian Trail Guide to Massachusetts-Connecticut (ATC)