In 3 days of hard hiking on the AT, you can traverse all the backcountry highpoints in northwestern Connecticut. But why hurry? Relish your flirtation with the Housatonic River and listen for the drumming of distant grouse before the slow climb up Schaghticoke Mountain. Ten miles of gentle, rolling ridgeline warm you up for the steeper Taconics farther north, while below, the river waits, cool and companionable, for some of the longest riverside ambles on the whole AT.
Contact: Appalachian Trail Conference, 304-535-6331; www.atconf.org.
The popularity of the Paradise Lane-AT-Undermountain Trail loop is no surprise, since views atop Bear Mountain stretch to three states. It’s best to take Paradise Lane up to the AT, scaling the peak’s precipitous north slope instead of butt-sliding down it, especially when it’s rain- or ice-slicked.
Contact: Appalachian Mountain Club, (617) 523-0636; www.outdoors.org.
Housatonic Meadows State Forest
In April, decaying oak and hickory leaves smell earthy as you ascend the Breadloaf Mountain Trail. North-slope snow pocks the rolling AT as you turn north to Caesar Brook Campsite for a night of full-moon shadows and creek music. Leaving on a frosty morning, you wind back down Pine Knob Loop to the emerald shade of Housatonic Meadows State Park.
Contact: Macedonia Brook State Park, (860) 927-3238; dep.state.ct.us/rec.