Though Lover’s Leap State Park is roughly 42 miles outside of New Haven proper, a trip north will reward you with views of Connecticut’s country landscape and the waters of Lake Lillinonah (park of the Housatonic River) and the Still River.
It’s worth the drive. Though Lover’s Leap State Park is roughly 42 miles outside of New Haven proper, a trip north will reward you with views of Connecticut’s country landscape and the waters of Lake Lillinonah (part of the Housatonic River) and the Still River. Ditch city life for a day and spend it in the woods of the western part of the state with easy to moderate climbs.
What Makes It Great
Lover’s Leap is 127 acres of smooth, oak-tree-lined paths that follow the Housatonic River. It’s a key link in the Housatonic River Belt Greenway, which winds from its source in the Berkshires and pittles out to Long Island Sound. During the spring and summer months, the belt is overwhelmingly verdant and bursting with life. Of course, come fall, the watercolor views of the changing leaves are also a plus.
Once you complete the short Blue Trail loop at the top of the mountain, head back down the hill until it meets with the main Lover’s Leap path. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled in time when you encounter Lover’s Leap Bridge at the end of the path. The iron-wrought bridge (originally named Falls River Bridge) was built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company in 1895. Today, it is closed to automobile traffic but can be enjoyed by pedestrians. In the summer, its red bars contrast perfectly with the enveloping green tree canopies along the river.
The legend of Lover’s Leap has many versions, but the most popular, it seems, involves the daughter of a local Native American Leader and her Englishman love interest. He left her with the intention of returning one day, but in her despair, she flung herself into the rushing waters of the Housatonic River. As she plunged into the now-buried “Great Falls” in her birch canoe, her lover, having just returned, dove in after her. Both drowned.
Who is Going to Love It
The majority of the trails are easy to moderate, making this a great local spot for both families and solo-trekkers. The paths are well-maintained, well-marked and won’t take you too far away from “civilization”. Locals looking for a quick moment with the river can take the short (less than 2-miles) Lover’s Leap Trail, which offers views of Lake Lillinonah and its surrounding rolling hills.
If you’re looking for a bit of an incline, follow the Blue Trail up to the highest point (On the CT Department of Environmental Protection map, this trail is labeled as the Falls Mountain Trail). You’ll pass by some enchanting “castle” ruins and other overgrown foundations before you make your final ascent to the stop-in-your-tracks beauty of the peak. Once you reach the top, you’ll once again greet the steadily flowing, Housatonic River, but this time, at a higher point, you’ll see out for miles over the majestic green hills of New Milford.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The main parking lot located off of Grove Street offers access to both the west and east sides of the park and a number of options along the Old Factory Trails and the steeper treks up to the peak on the Northeast corner of the area. There is a smaller parking area on the east side off of Town Farm Road that cozies up to the Housatonic River and offers quick access to the steep Blue trail to the top.