14 Connecticut Kayaking Launches for Fall Foliage Views

Oh, the New England Fall. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I know most people love to get those fall foliage views from the best fall foliage hikes in Connecticut, but not everyone wants to hike to get those views. In my opinion, some of the prettiest fall foliage views can be seen from a kayak on the water. 

There are several Connecticut kayaking launches that are known for their beautiful views in fall. Most of these have serene, calm waters to allow a peaceful paddle into some breathtaking fall scenery. 

I’m going to detail my favorite 14 kayaking launches that have the beautiful Connecticut fall foliage scenery on full display. Hopefully, you’ll be able to make the trip this fall to travel to one closest to you! 

View of river with tress in fall foliage with green, yellow, and red leaves. Viewing fall foliage while kayaking

Western Connecticut Kayaking Launches for Fall Foliage Views

We’re starting in Western Connecticut as these are my main paddling grounds.  With that said, many of the Western Connecticut kayaking launches are for the Long Island Sound (which is great to kayak, but maybe not the best for fall foliage views). 

But, there are a few, calm paddles in the northwest region of Connecticut that truly offer some spectacular fall colors, and that I highly recommend checking out if you’re in this part of the state. 

1. Huntington State Park, Redding CT

Huntington State Park has one of my favorite kayaking launches in the state. It’s a small launch, only accessible to non-motorized boats, and is for a fairly small body of water, but its beauty is truly breathtaking. Seriously, this pond has incredibly views no matter what season you’re kayaking in, but fall offers truly something else.

Because this pond is so peaceful and serene, you may have the entire pond to yourself (I typically do when kayaking here in the fall) and this allows you some quiet reflection time as you take in all the colors around you. 

A bonus is that this park is great for kayaking with kids. Not only is it small (you can kayak the entire pond in around 30-40 minutes), but it’s peaceful nature and safe waters allow for kids to try out kayaking and get a little experience under their belts before heading elsewhere. 

2. Mount Tom State Park, Litchfield CT

In the summer, Mount Tom State Park is filled with visitors looking to hike, swim, fish, and kayak. In the fall though, as the water and temperature cools, the crowd does as well. So, if you’re looking to enjoy all the activities that Mount Tom offers, then there really is no better time than Fall to do so. 

Launching your kayak into the Mt. Tom Pond will provide some stunning fall foliage views, but note it isn’t as serene as the other places in this list. The reasoning for this is because parts of the area around the pond are residential, so there will be some lake houses spread along the shore. But, sometimes that can provide a different take on the 100% fully nature fall views (and plus, it’s always fun to imagine yourself living there!).

3. Lovers Leap, New Milford CT

Lover’s Leap in New Milford is typically known for it’s more famous hiking trail, that passes through the Lover’s Leap Bridge and gives you stunning views of the river below. But the kayak launch for Lake Lillinonah is often overlooked in the fall, but is a great way to see the leaves!  

The view of New Milford fall foliage from the water, is just as pretty, if not more so, than the Lover’s Leap overlook (and it’s a lot less crowded from the water). Although the overlook is nice in it’s own right, there’s something really great about getting to see the deepness of the colors up close and personal, which you can absolutely do when you’re kayaking to see them. 

4. Sayville Dam, Barkhamsted CT

If you’ve seen a picture of Connecticut in the fall, then I guarantee you’ve seen a picture of the Sayvill Dam in fall. Most of these pictures are taken from land, in the walking paths around the tower and the reservoir. But, if you’re a kayaker then I highly recommend taking a trip up in fall to kayak the Sayville Dam. You’ll not only beat the crowds on land, but get a spectacular view of the famous fall foliage in this area. 

You should note that you won’t be able to kayak right up to the tower. The reservoir with the tower is only accessible by foot and boats/people aren’t allowed in the water since it’s used as drinking water. But, launch for Lake McDonough is directly beneath the tower and offers those beautiful fall views we’re all looking for. 

view from lovers leap during fall in connecticut

Central Connecticut Kayaking Launches for Fall Foliage Views

The Central Connecticut Kayaking launches for fall foliage views extend through the entire central region of the state. So, no matter if you’re on the coast or if you’re up near the Mass border, there’s sure to be a launch for you, near you.  

5. Lake Wintergreen, Hamden CT

Lake Wintergreen is a great, calm water paddle at anytime of the year. But, in fall, Lake Wintergreen becomes surrounded in trees with deep colors sure to meet all your fall foliage desires. 

This lake is in West Rock Ridge State Park, and is great for families due to the calm water, and the picnic areas around the lake. Plus, if you’re looking to hike and kayak, there are several great hiking trails to get some of those fall foliage views as well. I’d recommend the regicides trail, which is a medium-intensity hike. 

6. Alsop Meadows, Avon CT

In my several years of experience with Connecticut Fall, I have to say that I think Avon, Connecticut has some of the prettiest trees in the entire state. There isn’t a super well known hiking trail, or even kayaking launch here – but if you can find a way to make it to Avon during fall you’ll be well rewarded with some beautiful fall sights. 

Alsop Meadows is a particularly serene paddle, and in fall is even more quiet than in the summer. This launch does enter into the Farmington River, so just be careful after large amounts of rain, as that river can move pretty quickly in spots if the water is high. Since in fall it tends to rain a lot, you will need to be more mindful of this when kayaking out to see the fall foliage. 

7. King's Island, Enfield CT

Unlike Alsop Meadows, you’re going to want to wait until the water is high enough to visit King’s Island. In periods of drought, or if there hasn’t been a lot of rain, then kayaking here can be difficult due to the low water levels. 

But, if the water is high enough, King’s Island in Enfield can offer some larger open water areas surrounded by stunning Connecticut fall foliage views. Although you will launch from the mainland, paddling to King’s Island allows you a chance to get out an explore the foliage both from the water in the paddle out, and from the island itself. 

There aren’t any hiking trails carved out on the island, but it’s a great place to rest and can be explored further if desired. 

8. Messerschmidt Pond, Westbrook CT

The term “pond” for Messerschmidt pond is a bit of a misnomer, since this body of water is so large. In fact, in summer it does allow motorized boats on it, although you won’t really need to worry about them so much in fall. 

This pond though is fairly remote, and because of that offers some really secluded views of CT fall foliage from a much larger body of water compared to some of the other launches on this list. In fall, it’s likely you’ll be one of only a handful of people out on the water, and because the pond is large enough it’s unlikely you’ll ever run into anyone else directly. 

Enjoy the peace while you soak in those beautiful colors! 

9. Somersville Pond / Scantic River, Somers CT

Another beautiful river and pond, the kayaking here is exceptional and very secluded. So, when you paddle here to view fall foliage it’s very likely you’ll be the only one on the water. 

The launch is located in Somersville pond, but heading south takes you into the long and winding Scantic River. Just remember, that however far you paddle out, you’ll have to paddle back upstream! Don’t wear yourself out going too far before heading back in. 

view of small river surrounded by trees with fall foliage. Yellow leaves, red leaves, and green leaves. View of kayaking to see fall foliage in connecticut

Eastern Connecticut Kayaking Launches for Fall Foliage Views

The Eastern Kayaking launches are generally the most remote, peaceful launches in the state, no matter the time of year. But in the fall, the colors here are spectacular, providing you with your own personalized display of bright leaves to enjoy for however long you wish to be out on the water. 

10. Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union CT

At anytime during the year, Bigelow Hollow is a kayaker’s paradise. So many people claim this launch as their favorite in the entire state of Connecticut, and I completely understand why. It’s absolutely beautiful at any point during the year. 

In fall though, you’re sure to be able to soak up that remote scenery and fall foliage you’re looking for. This launch is definitely the easiest for non-motorized boats, but if you’re up for an adventure, this launch on Breakneck Pond is way more remote and hidden deeper in the park. But, it takes a ~1.2 miles walk on the blue trail to get there (with your kayak). But if you decide to take on that adventure – you’re sure to be rewarded with views that very few get to experience from the water. 

11. State Line Pond, Stafford CT

State Line Pond is tiny. If you’re truly looking to be on the water completely by yourself, then this is probably where you want to go. It’s unlikely if anyone is out there at all, and if someone is they’re almost definitely kayak fishing and wanting to be left alone by you too. 

With that said, because of this ponds tiny size, it’s a great place to have a short paddle and set up shop in the middle of the water and just soak it all in. I personally love to just lounge around in the water (typically eating a snack I brought) and just enjoying the beauty around me. This is the perfect pond for this type of kayaking experience. 

12. Selden Island, Lyme CT

The area around Gillette Castle is known far and wide as a particularly beautiful area of Connecticut. Now, this launch isn’t exactly at the castle (it’s a bit south), but the trees here have just as much beauty as the ones around the castle. 

This launch has you entering into the Connecticut River at the ferry landing, and a quick southern paddle will have you down to Selden Island. There are also plenty of other offshoots for smaller bodies of water to explore. No matter where you go on this paddle, the fall colors are going to be absolutely stunning. 

13. Mansfield Hollow Lake, Chaplin CT

Mansfield Hollow Lake is in the middle of a nature preserve. So, this by itself should tell you about the quality and serenity of the nature views here. But, if you need more convincing let me tell you that the fall colors here are truly breathtaking, especially from the water. 

Another perk is that once you get your fill of kayaking around the lake, there are several hiking trails to get even more fall foliage views of the Connecticut wilderness. 

14. Quinnebaug River, North Grosvenor Dale CT

Although Quinnebaug River is the last kayaking location in this list, it’s definitely not the least. This is another small, winding, non-motorized boats-only river that has beautiful fall colors to paddle by. 

The main launch is here, and you’re sure to enjoy every minute paddling around this river to enjoy those fall foliage views. 

There you have it – 14 beautiful Connecticut kayaking launches to see the beautiful fall foliage views from the water. I hope that while exploring Connecticut in the fall you take the time to visit one of these paddling locations to take in those spectacular colors from the water. 

If you’re looking to kayak other local places check out our kayaking locations page or our guide to 55 kayaking launches in Connecticut to find even more places to kayak this fall! 

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