Penwood State Park is 787 acres of heavily wooded beauty overlooking the Connecticut River Valley along the northern portion of the Talcott Mountain Range, offering spectacular views and solitude - it's perfect for hikers who prefer fewer human encounters on their journey.
Penwood State Park is 787 acres of heavily wooded beauty overlooking the Connecticut River Valley along the northern portion of the Talcott Mountain Range. The more popular Talcott Mountain State Park is a mere 2 minute drive down the road, but Penwood offers the same spectacular views, but with less foot traffic—perfect for hikers who prefer fewer human encounters on their journey. Depending on the timing of your visit to Penwood, you may be more likely to run into a turkey vulture than another person.
What Makes It Great
This 787 acre state park is a hidden gem in the town of Bloomfield, CT and surprisingly easy to get to. The trails, which include sections of the Blue Metacomet Trail System, are a part of the Talcott Mountain Range, but are less populated than the heavily frequented Heublein Tower Trail on Talcott Mountain. To beat the crowds and experience just-as-good-if-not-better views of the Connecticut River Valley, try Penwood.
From the parking lot off of Route 185, begin on the Yellow Trail. It’s a lovely, well-marked, wooded path that sends you North along the ridge of this portion of the Talcott Mountain Range. Follow yellow for a little over a mile until you reach Cedar Ridge Overlook which offers views over Simsbury best taken during the spring, summer and fall months (In the winter, the narrow nature of the path may introduce safety concerns so close to the ridge). About a half-mile north of this point, you’ll encounter Lake Louise, for yet another scenic view. If you bring your dog (on leash, of course) this is a great spot for your companion to cool off in the water. On a clear day, the Farmington River will be visible from here as well.
If you’re looking to go for the entire 7 to 8 mile loop, connect with Orange until it hooks up with the Blue Metacomet Trail, which runs parallel to yellow south back to the parking lot, but on the Bloomfield side of the park. Blue requires a bit more skill in the footwork department and hikers should allot more time for the trip back then on the way to the northernmost part of the park. Please note that about a quarter of a mile up the Orange Trail there is a Blue/Red connector for a shortcut back down the blue path home, if you find you’re short on time.
The narrow trail creates a feeling of total immersion into the woods, which makes this hike a perfect time-out from everyday life. The variety of trees and flowers along the ridge can be overwhelming in the best way. White Birch Trees pop out among the oaks and hickory branches that canopy the trails. It’s the kind of trail that curious-minded hikers will enjoy with a flora and fauna identification guidebook at hand.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers of moderate skill level will enjoy this single-track hike. Though the views are incredible because the path hugs the ridge closely, it isn’t ideal for families with young children for this reason. The dips in the trail further into woods are a ton of fun when taken at a fast pace. If you’re feeling light on your feet, there are stretches perfect for jogging as you navigate the smooth rocks and roots of the narrow path.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From I-91 North or South: Take Exit 35B for Bloomfield Route 218/Cottage Grove Road. Take Cottage Grove Road west until you get to Route 185. Take Route 185 toward Simsbury. At the top of the hill, the entrance to Penwood will be on your right.
From I-84 East or West: Take the Route 44 Exit. Follow Route 44 west until you get to the town of Avon, then take Route 10 north until you get to Route 185 in Simsbury. Take Route 185 towards Bloomfield. At the top of the hill, Penwood is on your left.