Since childhood, my love of the outdoors has always been a part of me. And as an adult, I hope to share that passion with my own children.
So, I offered this challenge to my family, to join me in exploring the hidden treasures and more popular gems Connecticut and the surrounding region have to offer. From hiking to biking to kayaking, I hope my window into the outside world inspires you to explore as well.
KENT FALLS STATE PARK
It’s, perhaps, one of the most famed waterfalls in the state – Kent Falls. Its majestic 70-foot height drops in a dramatic plunge that captures the attention of thousands of visitors every year. It’s been years since my last visit and the time seemed right to introduce this Connecticut gem to my own kids.
With the whole family along for the ride, we arrived at the park early in the day hoping to beat the crowds. Well, we weren’t not so lucky on that point. But, we did find a spot in the lot where a park employee greeted us to collect the weekend fee.
Climbing out of the car, a huge field with picnic tables dot the grounds that lead up to the falls. While some were busy throwing Frisbees or heating up the grill - the big pull for us was the water before us.
Three main trails run through this 295-acre park, two of which lead directly to the top. We began at the base of the falls, drinking in the pretty cascade of water tumbling over the rocks.
The Native American name for this area is Scatacook and there is evidence native people fished and camped here. Colonists also used the falls and like so many other places where water flows, mills were once plentiful along Falls Brook.
For those who want to witness the falls at its ‘peak’, try coming here after a heavy rainfall or in the spring. But, not worries, even in the driest of times, the cascade is still impressive to see. And although the shallow pools are tempting, there is no swimming allowed here. (Try telling that to a young child just itching to jump in – it’s not easy!)
Turning our attention to the climb, we took to the steps that literally hug the falls as it ascends. The trek up is a short one. It’s a little more than a quarter of a mile, but the climb is steep - all the more reason to take breaks and revel in the view.
Wide, wooden decks provide several opportunities - allowing visitors to get close to the falls without touching them. And, if you look closely, you’ll notice several potholes carved by the unending flow of water into the limestone – a neat feature for sure.
Near the top of the falls, hikers can cross over and meet up with the red trail for the descent. But a few yards below, the stream levels off and can be crossed easily on the numerous rocks that pepper the water.
This was far more entertaining for the girls as they wiggled their way over the stones before scrabbling up the small dirt hill to the red trail. Once we settled on the red, we began our descent and came across a rocky promontory several yards down.
Not a big fan of heights, I kept a tight hold on my 5-year-old’s hand and crept out onto the boulder. Stoked by her own curiosity, she played along with the extra precautions and didn’t protest ‘too’ much. And I’m glad she didn’t, the spot gave us a great vantage point both upstream and of the falls below – as attested by other visitors crowding on the rocks to do the same.
Heading back on the trail, we made our way down the winding path. Unlike the trek up the falls, there are no steps here – so extra careful footwork is in order.
Another path, blazed in yellow, breaks off from the red early on, leading folks deeper into the woods. We opted instead to head downhill, making good time to the parking lot below.
But instead of just getting into the car and heading home, we decided to end our day the same way so many park visitors began theirs – sitting in an open field, relaxing with family, and enjoying the view.
Not a bad end to such a memorable, summer day.
Directions: Take I-84 W to exit 20. Merge onto CT-8 N toward Torrington. Keep right, stay on CT-8 N. Take exit 38 toward US-6 W/CT-109/CT-254/Thomaston. Turn left onto Waterbury Rd. Continue onto CT-254 N. Turn left to stay on CT-254 N. Turn left onto CT-118 W/East St. Slight left onto East St. Turn right onto South St. Turn left onto East St. Continue onto US-202 W/West St. Turn right onto CT-341 W. Turn right onto Brick School Rd. About a mile later, the road turns slightly left and becomes N Kent Rd. Continue onto Carter Rd. Turn right onto US-7 N. Turn right, then left for parking.
Trail Distance: < 1 mile
Trail Difficulty: Easy to Moderate