Fun fall day trips

Autumn is a great time to jump in the car and head out for an afternoon or day away from it all. You don’t have to go far in order to take a break from the routine and enjoy the beauty of the changing season.

The Citizen has a few ideas to help you plan. Whether your interest is to see foliage, pick apples, find spooky happenings, or even learn more about Connecticut’s history, this list of ideas will get you started.

Apple Picking-

Picking apples and the perfect pumpkin is a favorite fall past-time. There are many spots throughout the region to visit.

In Cheshire, Norton Brother’s Farm on Academy Road, Hickory Hill Orchard on South Meriden Road or Drazen Orchards on Wallingford Road are farms where you can pick your own fruit and perhaps take a hay-ride.

In addition to pick-your-own fruit, Lyman Orchards of Middlefield also has a 4-acre corn maze, pony rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Scenic drives

New England is popping with color in fall.

National Geographic Traveler recently named Litchfield Hills as one of the most scenic driving destinations. The drive up Route 7 is beautiful, and there are lots of antique shops along the way.

You will also come across Bull’s Bridge, one of two covered bridges in Connecticut which is still open to traffic.

For a drive along the coast, try Route 146 from Branford to Guilford.

Drive to and explore Gillette Castle in East Haddam, the unique home of eccentric actor William Gillette (a.k.a. Sherlock Holmes).

There are many other driving options listed in www.yankeefoliage.com

Hiking

In addition to many trails and open space right here in Cheshire (maps available at the library, town hall and online at www.cheshirect.org), Connecticut’s Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System is great for hiking. Go to www.ctwoodlands.org for information.

You can also check out these Appalachian trails that run through Connecticut. Below are some tips from ctvisit.com to help you choose your path.

The Appalachian Trail runs from New Hampshire (Mt. Washington) to North Carolina (Mt. Mitchell), and it runs right through Connecticut. Check www.appalachiantrail.org for more history.

Bear Mountain, Salisbury — In Salisbury rests the northern-most point of the Appalachian trail in the state.

2,316-foot-tall Bear Mountain, is Connecticut’s highest peak. From the summit, you’ll see panoramic views of three states.

River Walk, South Kent — Is a well known, low-lying section of the Appalachian Trail, according to ctvisit.com. It runs along the Housatonic River for 4.8 miles between Cornwall and Kent and is less challenging than some parts of the trail. The website explains that it used to be an old farming road, and is a great place to encounter falls beauty and some wildlife.

Ragged Mountain Preserve Trail, Berlin —Ragged Mountain is a more challenging climb for experienced hikers and climbers.

It has scenic views of the Quinnipiac River, and vertical cliffs.

Ctvisit.com states that there are several trails for hikers of all levels which traverse this mountain, which is also a part of the Metacomet Trail and the New England National Scenic Trail.

Hanging Hills, Meriden — Also found within the Metacomet Trail are the Hanging Hills, rated as a moderate climb by alltrails.com. The park road below leads to Castle Craig Tower (elevation 976 feet). The Tower offers outstanding views of the Quinnipiac River Valley and Long Island Sound.

If you go, beware the Black Dog of Hanging Hills, as the legend says, “And if a man shall meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time...” well, maybe leave after the first time.

For more information on stops along the trail, see: www.appalachiantrail.org

Spooky Haunts

This month, visit the Old State House in Hartford for three Halloween-themed events. The following programs are each one hour long, and start at 12 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 15

The Witching Hour by the Judy Dworin Performance Project

A free, sneak preview of The Witching Hour by the Judy Dworin Performance Project prior to the show’s November run at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Set in the context of Puritanical, colonial Connecticut, The Witching Hour tells about little known stories of the prejudices and persecutions that resulted in the death of Alice Young of Windsor, the first person hanged for witchcraft in the 13 colonies. Modern dance performance. The program is free to the public, no registration required.

Tuesday, Oct. 22

Conversations at Noon: Vampires & Witches in Connecticut.

State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni discusses the New England Vampire Panic and how historical and archaeological research uncovered an early American widespread belief in the “undead”.

A discussion will explore Connecticut’s aggressive prosecution and execution of accused witches between 1647–1663, decades before the famous Salem witch trials.

Lisa Johnson, executive director of the Stanley-Whitman House will share her expertise on the trial of accused Connecticut witch, Mary Barnes; and Dr. Larry Goodheart will recount the stories of eleven people put to death for witchcraft in Connecticut. Dr. Goodheart recently authored the book The Solemn Sentence of Death: Capital Punishment in Connecticut.

Program is free. Registrations encouraged at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/OSH2013Lectures.

Thursday, Oct. 31

Halloween tour of Connecticut’s Old State House

Hear ghost tales as you discover the rich history of this National Landmark. Hour long tour starts at noon.

Admission fees apply. Call (860) 522-6766.

Wineries

According to CTWine.com, Connecticut is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country. SipNewEngland.com attributes success to the temperate coastal climate. Many have stated that the geographic location of Connecticut as well as the soil content provide an excellent region to grow wine grapes.

The Connecticut Wine Council Trail has been introduced, with 24 wineries statewide, offering events and wine education and tasting throughout the year. Some also host dining. Many offer spectacular settings for events.

In Wallingford, you can visit Gouveia Vineyards or Paradise Hills. North Stonington is the location of Jonathon Edwards Winery, and Clinton offers great views at Chamard Vineyards.

For information on the nearby wineries that make an excellent afternoon or sunset trip, check the wine trail map at www.ctwine.com/wineries-and-vineyards/trail-map.



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