Hiking the Lillinonah Tail in Paugussett State Forest, CT

Many people do not know this, but Connecticut has over 800 miles of state-owned trails called the Blue Blazed trails. These are found across the state and are comprised of trails that represent the diversity of hiking available in Connecticut. The Lillinonah Trail is one of these blue-blazed trails. 

The Lillinonah Trail covers 8.0 miles in the Upper Paugusset State Forest located in Newtown, CT. It is a loop trail, that has lots of ups and downs, along with beautiful water views of Lake Lillinonah and the Housatonic River. Additionally, this trail is known for it’s wildlife sightings and you can expect to see something of interest while hiking. 

I recently hiked the blue-blazed Lillinonah Trail and found it challenging, but enjoyable. I saw multiple deer, birds, and even a fox while hiking! I highly recommend visiting this trail and if you’re looking to do just that check out the what-to-know and what-to-expect information below. 

view of lake lillinonah behind tops of green trees on lillinonah trail

Overview

Difficulty: 5.5/10 

Location: Newtown, CT

Click for GPS Coordinates 

Distance: 6.0 miles loop

Time: 3-5 hours

Cell-Phone Service: Yes, but some areas are spotty

Features: Lillinonah Lake and Housatonic River

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: Free

Bathrooms: None

Dog Friendly: On leash only

Location, Parking, and Bathrooms for the Lillinonah Trail

The Lillinonah Trail can be accessed through two different parking lots, on different parts of the trail. The main one is here, and it’s fairly small. I think only ~ 6-7 cars could fit in total. But, I found that even on a beautiful summers weekend day that the lot wasn’t full – so you should be able to get a spot. 

The other lot is much more remote. This lot can not only hold more cars, but also is much less used. You’ll definitely get a parking spot here, no matter when you’re visiting. 

Neither parking lot has bathrooms. You should follow proper leave no trace principles if you need to relieve yourself once you arrive. 

several cars parked on the side of the road for the main parking lot for lillinonah trail
two cars parked in gravel lot for the lillinonah trail

Overview of the Blue-Blazed Lillinonah Trail

The blue-blazed Lillinonah Trail is a loop, which means you’ll circle back to the parking lot where you started your hike. But to get to that lot you’ll have to go through some challenges. First, the elevation you’ll cover on this hike is around ~1000ft. And, it’s not all at once either. This trail is constantly going up and down until the very last step. 

I typically like to recommend going clockwise or counterclockwise based on elevation, but for this trail that really will not matter. Either way you go you’ll be hiking up and down – so choose whichever you want. 

If you decide to go counterclockwise you’ll hit the more remote section of the trail first, whereas if you go clockwise you’ll hike next to the river/lake first. Both are beautiful, though the water side does tend to be a bit more buggy. 

Lillinonah Trail sign on tree witth blue blazed trail marker beneath the sigh

Hiking the Lillinonah Trail - Features

This hiking trail doesn’t have a lot of views or special features, but it’s still a favorite of Connecticut hikers. This is for two reasons. First, it runs next to Lake Lillnonah and the Housatonic River, which offer some pretty views. The second is because the first portion of the trail (opposite the water) feels very remote and that can be difficult to find in Connecticut trails in general. 

Water Views of Lake Lillinonah and Housatonic River

The water views from the Lillinonah trail are best seen in winter months when the trees do not contain leaves. During summer (which is when I hiked here), the leaves obscure a good portion of the views of both Lake Lillinonah and the Housatonic River. 

However, there are a few different shoot offs from the main trail that allow you to get closer to the water and there were several people who had stopped to rest on those to take in the views. 

view of lake lillinonah behind tops of green trees on lillinonah trail
view of housatonic river behind dark trees from the lillinonah trail

With that said, the trail here takes you to all different angles of the water. You’ll start out walking right next to the water on a fairly flat portion of the trail. However, that portion is short and you will start to climb to higher elevation. The higher you are, the better the views of the water are (in my opinion). 

Half of the Lillinonah trail extends right next to the water, so you can enjoy ~3.0 miles of views. 

Truly Remote Portion of Trail

A common question I hear from people hiking in Connecticut is “where can I go to get away from all the noise?” 

You see, Connecticut is a small state and a lot of the trails here are near houses or cities, which brings the noise of cars, lawn mowers, busses, planes, and everything else that makes sound in our daily lives. 

deep in the woods from the lillinonah trail. A large rock is in the distance, with a fall tree limb extending across the image. Green trees are in the foreground and background

But, hikers often want to get away from these sounds and are always looking for trails that make you feel like you’re truly remote. 

The first 3.0 miles of this trail (opposite the water) feels truly remote. I didn’t hear a single lawn mower, motorcycle, or car during the entire 3.0 miles (and this was mid-morning on a beautiful Saturday – prime noise making time). 

It shocked me how remote I felt in this section of the trail. 

So, if you appreciate some quiet and want to truly get out of the noise and bustle of everyday life then the Lillinonah trail (or at least the first half of it) is for you. 

Other Tips to Remember

The Lillinonah trail is a fantastic trail to get into nature and get some exercise with all the ups and downs this trail offers. It recently reopened after storm damage made some portions of the trail unusable and there are a couple of short route-arounds compared to what you’d see on AllTrails or another app. These are clearly marked and so there shouldn’t be an issue. 

I hope after reading this overview, you’re making plans to visit the Lilinonah Trail. It’s a wonderful blue-blazed Connecticut trail that gives a great overview of Connecticut hiking in general. I think that it’s definitely a place to hike you don’t want to miss. 

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