Autumn leaf picturesque drives in Connecticut comprise the Long Island Sound coastal routes, and the Litchfield Hills in Northwestern Connecticut. These regions offer sensational panoramic drives any season, but for me, the excursion that comes alive in the autumn is nestled in eastern Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner” and is Route 169. This is a stone of a fall leaf scenic drive in Connecticut. Allow me to take you for a fast twist…
Summit autumn leaves in Connecticut generally begins mid-October and lasts through end of October, occasionally floating into early November. Connecticut has a milder climate than many other places of New England, as signs by the plethora of wineries and vineyards loved by the area these days. Many scenic routes take you close to one of the 16 open for seeing.
But back to our autumn leaves route…
Traveling Route 169 is as much about historic buildings and communities with traditions, as around brilliant colour changes – although you’ll be blessed with loads of chances to soak up the colour and get an eye popping memory snapshot. The drive follows Route 169 from Lisbon, CT, to the border with Massachusetts. Though it’s merely a short drive of over 30 miles, however as you’ll see it packs a lot into a little region.
Start your panoramic drive in the town of Lisbon, which can be reached, from I-395 exit 83A. The center of town is known as Newent. In the town visit the Bishop House Museum and the Newent Congregational Church for a flavor of some of the architectural styles in this area of Connecticut.
Follow Route 169 out of Lisbon/Newent and drive the 8 miles to Canterbury.
Named for the cathedral city in Kent, England, Canterbury was initially settled in 1697, and offers a window into Connecticut’s early American past. Highlights are the classic New England Town Green and the Prudence Crandall Museum.
Prudence was an incredible girl, and The Prudence Crandall Museum records her effort to provide instruction for black women during a time of violent oppression. Prudence’s neighbors and friends eventually ostracized here and induced her to shut her school and move away from the place never to return.
Wright’s Mill Tree Farm is a pick-your-own local favorite, and during the autumn leaf season offers a spooky hayride, and the opportunity to pick-your-own pumpkin. This 250-acre farm is in the north end of Canterbury.
Go the 7 miles to Brooklyn, where along the way you’ll pass farms and dwellings set on the list of rolling hills and fields of the area. Brooklyn is steeped in history. You’ll find historical buildings galore with a high concentration of them in a 1.75-acre area known as Brooklyn Green. Both Brooklyn and Brooklyn Green is on the National Register of Historic Districts.
Places to view comprise Friendship Valley Inn, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and where Prudence Crandall was given recourse during her trial, and the 18th century Old Brooklyn Burying Ground. The close-by C. Vaughan Ferguson, Jr. Conservancy offers walking trails among marshlands and hills.
The simplest way of seeing Brooklyn Green is just to park the car and walk. With five churches on the green and a bunch of historical buildings, statues, and commemorative stones, something is bound to get your eye to investigate farther.
Leaving Brooklyn on Route 169 and heading north towards Pomfret, you’ll pass the 200-acre Lapsley Orchards in the Bush Hill historic district. Here during the autumn you’ll be able to pick crispy apples or buy the best pumpkin for your front porch.
Another side trip worth taking before you reach Pomfret is Mashamoquet Brook State Park and Putnam Wolf Den. At the junction with Route 101 head west and take the entry into the park less than a mile down Route 101. With the prosperity of maples and oaks in the park the autumn leaf dazzles. Make sure to take the path and short walk to the Wolf Den where a plaque describes the events resulting in the killing of the last wolf in Connecticut.
Back on Route 169 take the the next couple of miles into the center of Pomfret. A walk through Pomfret presents another opportunity to take a look at an 18th century graveyard at The Sabin Cemetery, 19th century churches, and a 13th century French window at the Pomfret School chapel. Pomfret is also home to Sharpe Hill Vineyard, one of the wineries on the Connecticut Wine Trail, and open for touring and wine tasting.
Continue the drive north on Route 169 out of Pomfret for Woodstock, the final leg of this picturesque drive. Before reaching the scenic New England village of Woodstock, you’ll have the opportunity to investigate many more hiking trails at The Connecticut Audobon-Pomfret Farms and The Air Line Trail.
Connecticut is deep in museums and historical dwellings, and in Woodstock it comes together at Roseland Cottage – a dramatic pink Gothic Revival style house that’s also home to the Bowen Museum. The house has original furnishings and tours are offered June – October.
Woodstock has a timeless New England village feel to it, with a village green lined by Maples and an old burying ground, meeting house, and many 18th century dwellings on the margin. And if you prefer not to head back to where you began but relax in Woodstock for the evening, then the Inn at Woodstock Hill have suites and rooms with fireplaces. The hostel is on the National Register of Historic places, and is a fitting end to this picturesque tour in eastern Connecticut.
As you travel along Route 169 keep your eyes open for the antique and buy stores in the towns and hamlets. Connecticut is the antique “capital” of New England and with the right browsing you’re leap to detect the ideal treasure for your house.
Traveling on Connecticut’s Route 169 is a perfect New England ramble any season, but particularly during fall leaf, when the aroma of autumn fills the countryside farms and the hamlets along the route.