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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Rand's View - Canaan, Connecticut (AT Highlight)

There's something about driving through those little towns in Northern Connecticut.  There's something about traveling through winding roads through towns called "Cornwall" and "Canaan" with someone in the passenger seat.  

This wasn't my first time in this part of Connecticut, it's a sweet spot in this state that I keep coming back to.  I did this trip with Thatcher and Olive back in 2016, spending time in Salisbury and driving through picturesque Cornwall on our way to hike Connecticut's highest summit, Bear Mountain.  I went back to the northeast corner with Rob and Rogi, summer of 2018, stopping for coffees at Sweet Williams and a drive down Main Street before heading to hike Overlook Mountain in the Catskills.  In the late fall of 2018, Jeff and I spent a day driving through Litchfield County, stopping to stroll through private boarding schools that resembled mini college campus' before stopping for a beer at Kent Falls Brewing, a stroll through Kent Falls State Park, and a hike in Macedonia State Park.  

Kent Falls,  November 2018

I guess this is my way of saying how special this part of the state is, how much I love experiencing a new part of familiar areas with someone and some-dogs by my side.   This trip was no different, we were visiting old places with new sights and scenery, it was Adam and I and the dogs, late September on a warm sunny day.  

Lover's Leap State Park

We left Norwalk around 9am, heading north towards the quiet corner of Connecticut.  We had a few stops along the way, some old, some new.  Our first (quick) stop was at Lovers Leap State Park - I wanted to see the famous wrought-iron bridge over the Housatonic River in New Milford for myself.  We parked in the nearly empty lot and we walked out to the iron bridge (slightly underwhelmed) and eventually followed some of the trails that made their way along the river (much more interesting). 

Cornwall Country Store

After a quick walk over the bridge and some time on the trails, we were back in the car, continuing north to Cornwall where we stopped at the Cornwall Country Market. We walked into this perfect little market to grab coffee and breakfast.  With hot coffee and breakfast burritos, we were back on the road, grinding gears along Route 7 with one last stop along the Housatonic to enjoy the river, the sunny Saturday morning, and the quiet.    It was our last stop on our "many stop" tour before getting to the trailhead, they were mandatory little glimpses into a part of the state where time slows down and the river cuts its way through the state. 

Bull's Bridge View of the Housatonic 

We left Cornwall, waving at the picturesque covered bridge, done "Cornwall-ing" as I like to call it.  We pulled into Falls Village, a small village in the Town of Canaan.  We parked at the Great Falls Reservoir and crossed the road to start our hike on the Appalachian Trail. 

Housatonic River

The plan was a short day hike, 2.25-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail out to Rand's View before tracing our steps back to the trailhead and to our car.  Rands View has been coined as the highlight of the 52-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that traverses through Connecticut.  You follow a wooded trail up Prospect Mountain and continue on to Rand's View.  It's a little oasis of farmland and open fields set within dense woodlands.  You can sit in the open field with views of the Berkshires in the distant, feeling far away from highways and byways. 

Prospect Mountain

Trail Guide

Distance:  5.5-miles out and back 
Elevation:  1,273' elevation gained 

Trailheads:  Two ways to get there  - from Fall's Village or from Route 44 trailhead in Salisbury. parking at the Upper Falls Village.  You can do as a point to point with two cars, or an out and back.  The parking area from Falls Village is located at the Great Falls Recreation Area lot (41.96369, -73.37222)

Highlights:  Mount Prospect, Mount Prospect Viewpoint and Rand's View (open field/meadow/farmland and a view of the Northern Berkshires).  

Hiking the AT to Rand's View

We started on the trail, keeping the dogs on-leash after reading about a local porcupine population and a busy vets office in the area.  We only saw a few people as we followed the AT through the woods up Prospect Mountain.  At the summit, we took a quick break, taking in the view and the unseasonably warm weather at the end of September, happy dogs at bay and cold beer in hand.  

Rand's View

We got to Rand's View shortly after making our way down from Porposect Mountain, taking in the expansive view and sitting in the wet grass to relax a bit in the Saturday sun.  While we thought the view was impressive, a big ole tractor parked in the field kind of ruined the "remote" feeling for us.  None the less, I enjoyed the beer I packed in and the dogs enjoyed a little bit of time off-leash, playing in the field before making our way back down the trail. 

Housatonic River Brewery

We traced our steps back down the trail, making our way back to Great Falls and our car.  From there, it was time for a late lunch and we decided to continue our tour of tiny towns, next stop Kent.  We got stuck in a parade of far too fancy cars, likely making their way from an event at Lime Rock Park.  We stopped at Bull's Bridge before making our way to the downtown area of Kent for lunch at the Villager Restaurant.  After a great lunch, we made our way through Macedonia Brook State Park before stopping to meet a friend for a beer at Housatonic River Brewery.  

Bull's Bridge, Kent 

It was a long full day, embellished with sweet stops along some new spots and favorite haunts.  We made it back to Norwalk for dinnertime, with two happy dogs who spent their Saturday on a trail. 

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