WHY GO: On a magnificently sunny day last week, my husband and I jumped in our “Covid-free capsule” (aka, our car) to explore a rural area of Connecticut northwest of Hartford CT. We spent most of the day (roughly 6 hours), stumbling on dams and waterfalls, orchards, vineyards, and farm-stands while whizzing past translucent, turning leaves, glistening in the afternoon sun.
New England Fall Foliage road trip fans don’t need much persuasion to take an impromptu, back-roads expedition. For many of us, it’s a heartwarming, must-do, annual tradition with payoffs undiminished by “progress” and the passage of time.
Here, we’ve done the work finding the coolest, most obscure stops, so you can maximize your hours. We provide concise, turn-by-turn instructions. Follow along. The first stop, the Saville Dam, is roughly 1 1/2 hours from mid-town Manhattan and 40 minutes from Hartford CT.
Points South to Route 8 CT and Saville Dam, Barkhamsted CT
Begin on Route 8 CT N. (from either the Merritt Parkway or I-95). It’s about 50 miles North to US 44 E./New Hartford R.
Drive 3.2 miles to Rt. 318 E. – turn Left onto 318E.
Follow 318E for about 3 miles, take sharp right on 219 N. Find parking for Saville Dam on bridge.
STOP: Saville Dam
The 135 ft. tall earthen embankment dam is notable for its stone church-like gatehouse and other masonry features. It’s one of those unexpected aesthetic pleasures that appear abruptly in the middle of nowhere. There are walking trails, and picnic areas around the Barkhamsted Reservoir. But, if you want to save time for a waterfall hike, take a snap and move on.
Saville Dam to Enders State Forest, Granby CT (5 miles)
Stay on CT-219N for 5 miles. Look for signs for parking on right.
From the parking area, take a short trail to the river. Turn left to a series of stairways and boardwalks that traverse rapids and tiered waterfalls. Plan on 30-60 minutes, depending on how long you’d like to stay.
Enders State Forest to Lost Acres Vineyard, N. Granby CT (5.6 miles)
Continue on CT 219 N 1.5 miles to Route 20 W
Right on to Rt. 539 then almost immediate left onto Donahue Rd.
Drive 1.4 miles, take sharp left onto Lost Acres Rd. – Vineyard on right in ½ mile
SIP: Lost Acres Vineyard, N. Granby
This remote farm vineyard, with outdoor seating amidst a luscious landscape, plans to stay open on weekends through November, as weather allows. Purchase a cheese platter and bottle of wine, and take it to a table near planted vines. It’s as picturesque a winery as you’ll find in Connecticut.
EAT: Lost Acres Orchard, N. Granby (1/2 mile)
Alternately, you can feast on fresh-picked salads, sandwiches, soups, and/or highly praised apple pie at Lost Acres Orchard, just ½ mile from the Vineyards (take a right out of the vineyard parking lot and drive up the hill).
Take your lunch to a spot under an almost bare apple tree to enjoy the last of this quickly fleeting season.
Lost Acres Orchard to Sweet Wind Farms, East Hartland (6 miles)
Continue on Lost Acres Rd (take a right out of the orchard parking lot) for 2 miles
Take Left onto Granville Rd. for 2.3 miles
Left onto State Rd. 179 for 1.7 miles. Sweet Wind Farms is on the right.
STOCK UP: Sweet Wind Farms, East Hartland CT
Arlow and Susan Case own this 3rd generation Maple-Sugar shack, and sell much more than their maple syrup products. Now, more than ever, it’s important to support these Mom and Pop operations. Here, it was a no-brainer to pick up a few jugs of syrup, containers of Maple Cream, homemade jams, and cold weather veggies, especially since everything is grown without sprays or pesticides.
It’s 6 miles back to Saville Dam from Sweet Wind Farms (Rt 179 S to Rt. 219 S), and you’ve made a complete loop.