Several times last year I had the pleasure of hiking the trails of Talcott Mountain State Park. It is in Simsbury, CT and it has a beautiful view no matter where you look. The park is open to hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, picnicking and other fun things.
On top of the mountain sits the 165 ft high Heublein Tower. It was built as a Summer home in 1914 for Gilbert Heublein.
The tower trail is 1.25 miles and depending on your fitness level it takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the top. The first leg of the hike up is a vertical climb so take your time going up. After that the trail levels out so once you pass the first bit you all should be fine. Also, the trail is littered with these little annoying black rocks so be careful especially going back down.
Once you get to the first look out areas you will totally forget about that first leg you just hiked. The views are amazing.
It really is a fantastic view and this isn’t even the view from the top at the tower. That one is even better!
***A Safety Note-When you park your car you will notice a helicopter pad. The reason for that is because some hikers like to go out a little too far on one of the small look out areas to get a better look at the view or a better shot with their camera…and slip and fall down the mountain. Trust me when I say I have looked down the mountain and it is a very steep drop down with lots of trees to break your fall should you slip. Please do not be one of those people they have to air lift out to the hospital.
Now after you continue on the hike to the top after taking in the view at the little look out areas you will come across a very nice looking rock wall.
It doesn’t have a name (I looked online and couldn’t find anything) but this picture does not do it justice. It is massive and beautiful. Every time I pass it I have to take its picture and I am not the only one! I have seen people climb it. I personally do not recommend that. The middle part protrudes out and has jagged edges to it that I imagine will cut you if you are not careful. Plus, if you fall you will not have a nice landing.
The surrounding forest is really nice and the sounds of all the wildlife fill the air as you walk by.
You can find a great deal of wildlife here including birds, squirrels, deer, foxes and rabbits. There is also the occasional sightings of the turkey vulture, bald eagle and pileated woodpecker. My second time visiting I did see a gorgeous red tailed hawk flying by at one of the look out areas but was not fast enough with my camera to get a picture. I also did hear a woodpecker but couldn’t find him or her. Next time maybe.
After you pass the giant rock wall you are just a stones throw away from the tower.
The tower was built for Gilbert F. Heublein in 1914 as a Summer retreat and home and interestingly was designed to withstand winds of 100 mph. I can attest to this. The third time I went up there it was a windy day and I felt nothing up there.
Ownership of the tower has changed hands a couple of times over the years and in 1965 became part of Talcott Mountain State Park. The tower has been renovated as a museum with period artifacts and beautiful furnishings.
They museum is fantastic! It is at the bottom part of the tower. They have a wealth of information of the history of the tower and the furnishings are lovely. My favorite part was the living room. Must have been nice to have had dinner in such a pretty room. I also enjoyed the sitting room. Can you imagine how great it would have been to sit down there in the morning with your coffee and read the morning paper while staring out at that view? Definitely better than the view I have from my apartment!
Now to the top of the tower. My advice is to take your time looking at the museum so that you can catch your breath because there are several flights up a winding stairwell to get to the top of the tower. I especially advise this in the Summer time because there is no air conditioning in the tower and it gets really hot up there. Can you tell I found out the hard way?
Time for the view!
You really are up in the clouds while on the top of the tower! You can see 365 degrees up there. To the northwest, the Berkshires dominate the horizon. The south is where you can make out the the Long Island Sound in a thin blue streak. You can also make out Mount Monadnock, which is 80 miles away in New Hampshire. There really isn’t much you can’t see in the area from the tower.
There is a gift shop there, too. It has all the things a gift shop would have. Post cards, key chains and to my sheer delight walking stick medallions. I had never heard of them before and just had to buy one for my trusty walking stick. What a nice way to commemorate such a lovely hike! Will definitely be looking for more of those walking stick medallions!
If you are looking for a hike with a terrific view and some history to go along with it I recommend Talcott Mountain State Park!
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