We are lucky to live in a part of the country where beautiful hiking trails abound, and even luckier to have endless options right in our own little corner of Connecticut. There are many hiking trails that cater to those of you who want to spend a full day out in the woods, conquering new terrain and never passing the same rock twice. On the contrary, if you are a new hiker or you want to introduce the activity to your young children, there is no shortage of local trails that will fit your needs. We've put together a guide to some of our favorite nearby hiking spots based on the ease of the hike and size of the park. In addition, we compiled a list of must-have items for each one so you can stay safe and comfortable on the trail. Don't forget: a good sturdy pair of hiking boots or trail shoes is your number one piece of gear!
The Norwalk River Valley Trail
The NRVT is a local favorite; it offers the chance to take a walk in the woods without having to deal with any variable terrain. If you want to spend some time beneath the trees with a young child, or even push your baby in a stroller, the NRVT is the perfect spot. The Wilton Loop has an entrance on Route 7 at the corner of Wolfpit Road, with a park & ride lot right across from the trailhead. There is another entrance to the Wilton Loop at Merwin Meadows; this section of trail is set back from the road a bit more, but both sections are flat enough to walk comfortably with a stroller.
water bottle, bug spray (we recommend Natrapel 8-hour)
Wilton Town Forest
The Town Forest, sometimes known as Wilton Woods, is the largest open space in town. It is also considered to be the most rugged, meaning that you will get the experience of variable terrain and interesting geography without having to even leave Wilton. Hiking all the way around the park is about two and a half miles, so it would be a great opportunity to introduce your children to the joys of hiking without taking them somewhere too overwhelming.
water bottle, bug spray, extra layer, small first aid kit (we recommend Family Medic from Adventure Medical Kit), whistle
Devil's Den Preserve
Devil's Den in Weston and Redding is the largest preserve in Fairfield County, at 1,746 acres. It encompasses 20 miles of trails and has variable terrain with ponds and streams. Depending on your skill level, a hike around the park would take around 3 or 4 hours, but it is definitely possible to explore deeper and spend the entire day getting to know this huge park. The hike would be a bit strenuous for small children, but any child who is fit for a few hours of hiking will love this park (note: this park is not dog-friendly).
water bottle, bug spray, extra layer, small first aid kit, whistle, poncho, day pack (we recommend the Osprey Daylite), trail bar, knife/multitool (we recommend the Leatherman Supertool)
Appalachian Trail, CT Section
The famous Appalachian Trail passes through the northwestern corner of Connecticut, and you only need to drive about an hour from Wilton to access it. The AT is a great option for an all-day hike, but we highly recommend taking it a step further for an overnight camping and hiking adventure. Keep in mind that it is a continuous trail, so unless you organize a ride back to your car you will be doing an out-and-back hike. One option we recommend, if you're hiking with a friend, is to take two cars and leave one at the ending point of your hike so that you can experience more of the trail without having to turn around and backtrack. Be sure to research in advance the parking spots that allow overnight parking and the areas that allow camping (there are many!).
water bottle, bug spray, extra layer, small first aid kit, whistle, poncho, day pack, trail bar, knife/multitool, freeze-dried meal, light stove (we recommend the Whisperlite from MSR), gas, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag (we recommend the Summerlite from Western Mountaineering), pot, utensils, headlamp, pack (we recommend a pack in the 30-48 liter range, such as the 35-liter Banchee from The North Face), water purifier, extra socks