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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Heublein Tower/Talcott Mountain, Simsbury - CT Best Hikes

This weekend, the calendar will mark the start of November and the (almost) end of the year. 2020 has been a good year but it's been a hard year. It's been hard to plan, hard to travel, hard to see the people you love. We have embraced seeing people outside and in a socially distanced way from outdoor movie nights to a walk in the woods. Adam and I had plans to stop at a store in West Harford, Connecticut and while we were in the area, wanted to stop and see a friend. We decided the best way to (safely) spend some time together was on a hike and when in the West Hartford area in the fall, hike up to Heublein Tower.

It was the last weekend in October, about noon on an overcast Sunday when we parked the car in a busy parking lot at Talcott Mountain State Park. There were a lot of people heading up the trail as we set off on the steep slog up the main part.  While the trail was busy, the path is wide and it's pretty easy to keep your distance from those around you. I brought my mask, a water bottle, and our dogs as we made our way up to the intersection in the trail. At the top of the main trail, you have the option to continue on the main trail or to follow a smaller/less traveled route that borders the edge of the mountain. Not only does this route provide a bit of solitude, but it also offers some awesome views of the fall landscape below. We followed the trail until we reached our first view of the tower. At the tower, you can enjoy lunch with a view and when there isn't a pandemic, you can even go inside the tower. Entrance inside the tower allows for a glimpse of the historic home and museum. The tower is closed this year due to COVID-19 but typically, you can tour the inside of the building as well.

The Heublein Tower in Simsbury opened in 1914 as a summer home for the Heublein family. Gilbert F. Heublein was born in Germany and came to the United States as a child when his parents fled political unrest there.

The 165 foot tower has a history as a backdrop for some famous guests. It is where the Republican Party asked General Dwight Eisenhower to run for president (also attended by Prescott Bush, father of George H. W. Bush). Ronald Reagan also visited the tower in the 1950s. You can read more about the history of the tower in this New York Times article.

It was a quick hike up and down the tower on a beautiful fall weekend, and we were happy to spend some time with a friend soaking in the last of the New England foliage before fall fades to winter. We have plans to go back next summer, hopefully in a virus-free world where we can take a tour of the tower and this historic home.

T r a i l   S t a t s 

Distance: 2.7 miles (about 1.3 miles one-way) 

Elevation: 460 feet 

Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes

Dogs/Kids: Yes and Yes!  Dogs are allowed (on-leash) and the shorter distance makes this a doable hike for kids.  The steep section in the beginning may be challenging for some children and be careful on the ledge areas on the side trail.  

Parking: Talcott Mountain State Park entrance off of Route 185 in Simsbury

Trail/Trailhead: There are restrooms at the start of the trail (pit toilets).  You will follow the wide main trail (yellow - and more of a dirt road really) up the first steep 1/3 mile of trail.  Once you get to the first overlook at the top of the climb, you have the option to continue on the main trail to the tower OR you can follow the trail closer to the cliff edge which is quieter and with better views. Map

Red Tape:  This is a very popular trail and parking may be limited at the trailhead.  You will not be alone on this hike so understand that you will have company, especially on the weekends.  

Tower/Museum:  ** closed 2020 season - COVID-19 ** The museum is open Thursday through Monday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. From Labor Day weekend through October 31st the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.  Museum hours are 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday through Monday. Pets, food, drink, and walking sticks are not allowed in the museum. There are picnic tables and restrooms in the area by the tower as well.  History of the tower. 

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