LANTERN HILL TRAILS
Lantern Hill in North Stonington is one of those places I always find on those lists of ‘top spots’ to hike in the state. And, as I quickly learned, there's a good reason for that.
The views from its summit are dazzling. The hill’s white cliffs are said to shimmer in the sun when seen from the sea (thus, its name). It’s something easy to imagine on such a bright, sunny morning.
But, it isn’t as easy to get there. Several trails run through this ideal spot, including a handful of unmarked paths. However, there are two trails that offer hikers the best vantage points. But, both offer their own set of challenges. So, I brought back-up, and asked my friend Steph to tag along.
One of the most scenic is the red Lantern Hill Trail which skirts the outer edges of the hill. The trail sits on the Mashantucket Pequots Reservation and narrows dramatically as it cuts around sheer cliffs and loose stones.
My fear of heights almost got the better of me after eyeing that particular route. But, my trusted friend saw to it that we continue our climb to the top – this time via the blue-blazed Narragansett Trail.
You’ll certainly get a workout, for it isn’t an easy climb by any means. It’s a straight shot upward over shards of rock and half-buried roots. Despite the extra effort, it’s the perfect run-up to the true star of the show – Lantern Hill.
The view from the top is incredible. From one angle, a canopy of trees forms a blanket for miles around.
Another vantage point offers another spectacular view, this time of Foxwoods Casino as it breaks through the surface like a sea creature emerging from the ocean floor.
Taking smaller side trails to the edge also allowed us to catch the sparkle of Lantern Hill Pond as sunlight bounced playfully off its surface.
The hill itself is quite a beauty too. Once the site of a silica mine, its craggy surface a reminder of the mining done here for close to 100 years. Its face also acts as a perfect lure for rock climbers looking for a challenge. (That’s not something you’ll catch me doing. But, if you’re brave enough to face the drop, all power to you….)
Rappelling may not be your thing. But, regardless, take extra care going downhill. Unstable rocks and scattered leaves may make the descent more treacherous than your expecting, so take the time to watch where you step.
Despite all the hurdles (and my brief flash of anxiety), my hike to Lantern Hill was one of the best I’ve had so far this year. And with so many great spots in Connecticut to explore, that’s saying a lot.
Directions: Take CT-2 E toward Norwich. Take the CT-2 E/CT-32 S exit toward Norwich/Harbor Area/Downtown. Turn right onto CT-2 E/CT-32 s/Washington St. Turn right onto Main St. Continue onto Palmer St. Palmer St. turns slightly left and becomes CT-2 E/Stonington Rd. Turn right onto the ramp to CT-214. Continue onto CT-214. Turn left onto Foxwoods Blvd. Turn right onto Wintechog Hill Rd. Parking is along the road on the right.
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Distance: 2 miles