State venues for fall foliage viewing
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 23:09
Despite the somewhat dreary forecast this week, fall is the best time to get out of your cramped dorm room and enjoy the natural beauty of New England. It’s difficult to predict the ideal time to look for fall foliage and every model will predict a different peak week. Most agree, however, that some of the best color will emerge in the next two weeks. You also don’t need a model to look right out your window to see that the color show has already begun.
The best way to enjoy the foliage is by hiking through one of Connecticut’s state parks. Not only is it great exercise and a change of pace from campus life, but the lack of cost always fits in a college student’s budget.
Number one on the Department of Environmental Protection’s list is Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent. Cobble Mountain is one of several peaks within the park that have views of the Catskill and Taconic mountain ranges. These higher elevations normally produce the richest colors the earliest because the sugars produced during sunlight hours are trapped in the leaf and preserved by the colder nights.
Nearby is Kent Fall State Park, which also offers fantastic views of the foliage and features three different cascades. The quarter-mile hike along the falls has a variety of scenic spots to stop and enjoy the leaves. This park, however, charges for admission over the weekend. The draw of covered bridges and dramatic 70-foot plunges down to the Housatonic River might just be worth the extra cost.
Within the Farmington River Valley lies Talcott Mountain State Park and home of Heublein Tower. There is a 1.25-mile gravel trail that brings visitors up to the tower, which was originally built as a summer home for Gilbert Heublein in 1914. Now it serves as the perfect setting to admire the fall landscape of multiple New England states, because 1,200 square miles are within visual range of the tower. Included in this area are Mount Monadnock from New Hampshire and the Berkshires in the northwest. This vast array of mountains and land guarantees visitors the full spectrum to foliage colors.
For something a little closer to home, try the trail starting on Puddin’ Lane right off Route 195 here in Mansfield. The scenic four-mi. long hike will lead you to Wolf Rock, another popular fall destination. This cliff area was formed from a glacier and its impressive structure and views draw many rock climbers from around the area. The cliff provides a vista view of the local area, which is sure to please any fall hiker.
There are three main pigments within the leaves that create the changes in color. During the spring and summer month the chlorophyll chemicals make leaves their normal green color. As the length of sunlight becomes shorter, and nights longer, the yellow, orange and brown color from carotenoid and red hues from anthocyanin are activated. These scientific reactions produce delightful views from nearly every Connecticut State Park and trail. It doesn’t matter which park you choose, as long as you get out to enjoy the weather before winter forces us all inside.