Where is the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut?
Hiking on the East Coast means that you’ve probably run into the Appalachian Trail (AT) a few different times. The AT spreads from Georgia to Maine, and a small, 50 mile portion extends through Connecticut. If you’re looking to explore and hike the AT, then you may be wondering where is the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut?
The Appalachian Trail in Connecticut starts at Hoyt Road on the border with New York in Sherman, CT, and ends just North of Bear Mountain at the CT-MA border. During the 50 mile trek, hikers travel through the Connecticut cities of Sherman, Kent, Sharon, and Salisbury.
Let’s dive in more to where the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut is located, by looking at the Connecticut Appalachian Trail Map, locating the parking lots and finding the right campsites for your AT CT adventure.
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Where is the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut: CT Appalachian Trail Map
The Connecticut portion of the Appalachian Trail meanders through the Northwest Corner of the state, heading through 4 major cities in Litchfield county. Even though it’s a fairly small portion of the entire AT, there is a lot to do on this trail.
Several campsites, parking lots, and viewpoints are spotted throughout the trail from the very beginning. Check out the map below to dive into a few of these landmarks/locations to get a better idea of how the trail is laid out.
I like to structure the layout of the Appalachian Trail in CT into five sections.
The first section starts at Hoyt Rd. in Sharon, and leads you to the Mt. Algo Campsite. During this portion you’ll pass Bull’s Bridge, Schaghticoke land, and actually meander back into NY for a short stretch.
The second section takes you from Mt. Algo, through Caleb’s Peak and St. John’s Ledges. There are campsites at the base of Caleb’s Peak, or a few miles up the path.
The third section has you traveling up and over Sharon Mountain. This part is very hilly, but it ends with you starting the flat walk up the Housatonic River.
The fourth section has you finishing the Housatonic section and headed towards Lion’s Head. You’ll pass the beautiful Rand’s View in this section.
The fifth section has you going up up to Lion’s Head and Bear Mountain before hitting the MA border. Get the complete Bear Mountain trail guide here
Each of these sections are around around 10 miles (give or take ~2-3 miles), and are divided to give you a sense of how the trail is laid out. Advanced hikers who can hike 20+ miles a day, will likely combine some of these. Hikers looking for only day hikes may do portions of multiple sections in a day. You’ll want to find the section(s) that works best for you.
Where can I access the Appalachian Trail by Car?
If you’re not quite up to hiking the 50+ mile trail in one go, then you may be interested in section-hiking it instead. And, in order to do that you’ll need to know where you can park so you can access the entire trail on multiple days without needing to camp.
Now, if you’re going to section-hike the AT in the shortest amount of time possible, then you’ll need two cars. One car placed at the starting lot, and one placed at the ending lot. If you don’t have access to two cars you can either Uber/Lyft back (not always reliable in more rural areas of the state), or you can do out-and-backs from these lots. The out-and-back hiking trails may take more time, but its still an option if you don’t have access to multiple cars, or want to do it by yourself.
Section Hiking the AT from Parking Lot to Parking Lot
The first parking lot is off of 55, very close to the Hoyt Road start of the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. After a 12 mile hike covering the entire first section of the trail, you’ll reach the parking lot on 341.
On the next day, you’ll start at the lot on 341 and have a very long stretch before you hit an official parking lot. Since this would be longer than what is considered a day-hike, it’s recommended to have a car parked on the street at Guinea Rd. in Sharon. Again this isn’t an official lot, but a place to stash your car not too far from the trail. This is another 12 mile day.
The third section will be accessed from the Guinea Rd. parking and head all the way up to Rte 7, where there is a lot just off the trail.This section is a bit shorter, with only 10 miles.
The fourth section will start at Rte 7. There are two potential parking lots you can end at depending on the length you’re looking for. The first is the lot at the Great Falls. This would be a 10 mile day. Or, you can push yourself a few more miles to get to the parking lot on Undermountain Road. In both cases, you 5th day mileage will be much shorter than any of the prior days.
The fifth and final day will start out at either of the lots you chose previously. This day will be a lot of elevation, covering both Lion’s Head and Bear Mountain. When you reach the MA border at the end of the Connecticut section of the AT, you’ll have to double back to get to a parking lot. There are two choices to choose from – the Undermountain Trail parking lot or the Mt. Frissel trailhead parking lot in MA.
The Undermountain Trail requires you to double back by hiking down the ~1.8 mile Paradise Ln. Trail and Undermountain Trails after coming down from Bear Mountain. In total this would be 6.5 miles. The Mt. Frissle trailhead parking requires you to head West after descending Bear Mountain where you’ll hit Mt. Washington Rd. This would be around 5.3 miles in total.
Where are the Campsites on the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut?
If you do want to thru-hike the entire trail, or do multiple sections in one go, you’ll need to know where you can camp. Luckily, each of the 5 sections I described above end right at a campsite. But, if you want to combine those 5 sections, the CT Appalachian Trail is full of campsites to choose from. Several of the available campsites are highlighted in yellow on the trail map above.
But, if you want a short guide on where I would camp when hiking the trail….
My first day I’d complete the first 10-12 mile section and end at the Mt. Algo Shelter at the base of Mt. Algo. This shelter has water available, a privy, and a bear box. On the next day I’d travel until I hit the Silver Hill campsite. There is a shelter here, along with water and a privy, but no bear box. You’ll need to bring bear safe containers when hiking this portion of the AT.
The third day, I’d hike to the Bettler’s Campsite. This site has a privy and a stream for water, but no bear box, so like above you’ll need a bear safe container of some kind. The fourth night, I’d hike to the Riga Shelter. This shelter has water, a privy, and a bear box. This day will be the longest of the 5 days, but I like to do this to ensure my last day hiking is the shortest.
The distance between each of these shelters is ~10 miles (give or take a few miles). But, if you want to hike longer sections (or shorter sections) there are plenty of campsites to choose from. Check out the map above to choose your own sites!
Also, an important note about camping in CT – no fires are allowed. So, all cooking will need to be done over a backpacking stove. And, if the campsite you choose does not have a bear box – you should bring either a bear box or bear bag to be bear safe and follow all of CT’s bear related rules while hiking the AT.
You’ll also need to filter the water at each of these sites – so be prepared with a good quality, lightweight water filtration system.
I hope you’ll find this breakdown of where the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut is located useful and can find a way to get out and hike it this year (or at least a section of it)! If you’re looking for other, less intense hiking trails – check out our hiking adventures page for other great local hikes to explore.
If you’re looking for other CT-AT resources check out these written guides here and here.
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