For those of us who enjoy the great outdoors, the cool, crisp days make this the most wonderful time of the year. Here are some outstanding peaks and overlooks I've visited:
Bluff Head, Guilford: At 720 feet above sea level, Bluff Head is the highest point in Guilford, allowing visitors to see all the way to Hartford while providing a beautiful view of nearby Long Island Sound. The most direct — and, of course, the most difficult — route is a half-mile trail marked with light blue blazes. A second trail, marked with orange blazes, has a much more gradual rise, reaching the bluff after about a mile. Both trails can be accessed from a parking lot along Route 77 just over the Durham/Guilford line.
Higby Mountain, Meriden/Middlefield: For those who don't mind a "more developed" view, Mount Higby is the place. A forested trail leads from a parking lot off Route 66 just west of Guida's Drive-in. At the top of a traprock ridge, there's a commanding view of Meriden and the surrounding hillsides. Blue-blazed trails run across the ridge in both directions for several miles, offering a plethora of views.
Lyman Viaduct, Colchester: The only place you can walk along a 135-year-old viaduct — an iron railroad bridge — that was buried in loose, cinder-filled sand in 1913 to shore up the bridge for heavier freight trains. The 160-foot-high viaduct has a view reminiscent of the northern woods. Take Route 16 to Comstock Bridge Road to Bull Hill Road and look for the parking area at the big curve. Walk west along the trail.
Mary Edwards Mountain, Granby: Those visiting this 200-acre mountain will definitely feel like they're up north. Whether walking through the field along Mountain and Donahue roads to a huge maple or taking a short trip to Mary's Rock with its sweeping views of the Connecticut River Valley, Springfield and the Mount Tom range, the views are tremendous. Take Route 20 to Beman Road, followed by a quick left on Higley Road. Turn right on Silkey Road and follow to the end, then a left on Mountain Road. Trail maps are available at granbylandtrust.org.
Penwood State Park, Bloomfield:The destination point in the 800-acre park is a place called Cedar Ridge Overlook. The overlook is actually one of two spectacular rock outcroppings that provide panoramic views of Simsbury, Avon and Hartford while adding a little exhilaration for those brave enough to peer over the edge. A 1.3 mile-long yellow-blazed trail takes visitors from the parking lot along Route 185 to the overlook.
Those who continue north can seek out Lake Louise and Lucy Brook. The brook, on the western side of the lake, empties out the pond in the form of a 30-foot waterfall. Visitors are treated to yet another panoramic scene of the waterfall tumbling into the valley with the hills of Simsbury in the background.
Soapstone Mountain, Somers: At 1,075 feet, it's not the highest mountain in the state, but it's actually higher than that because of a lookout tower with a panoramic view of the surrounding hillsides. A steep, white-blazed trail takes visitors quickly to the top. A blue-blazed trail has a gentler climb, but takes twice as long. Take Route 190 to Shenipsit State Forest on Gulf Road.
I'm sure there are overlooks I've missed across the state. So feel free to e-mail me your favorite views.
On the Web Check out a collection of photos, stories and links to guide your foliage viewing at courant.com/foliage.>> Peter Marteka can be reached by phone at 860-647-5362; by mail at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040; and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, CT Now