Talcott Mountain State Park and Heublein Tower: Simsbury, CT

 View from the rear of Heublein Tower. You can't see the CT skyline here but read the post below for more pictures.

View from the rear of Heublein Tower. You can't see the CT skyline here but read the post below for more pictures.

"Less talking' more walkin'!"

I'm trying to get my four year old to the top of Talcott Mountain to see the Heublein Tower before dark. Today, he's particularly interested in every rock, ever leaf and every bug that crosses his path. That's totally fine, but sometimes I'm in the get to the top mode and I forget to slow down.

"Daddy?"

"What?!"

"Can I Hold your hand?"

I melt a little. 

"Of course you can."

He comes over and wraps both his arms around my wrist and leans his head into my arm. I melt even more and the four-year-old once again brings me back to the most important reason we hike together- and that is simply to be with each other.

It's good to get outside and move but there is no point if you're not growing closer as a family. And as crazy as it sounds, you can be out traveling the world and climbing the highest mountains together, but if you're not paying attention to the little hands around your arm and how awesome acorns are...then you might be missing everything.


Name: Heublein Tower in Talcott Mountain State Park

Locations: Simsbury, CT

Difficulty (for little feet): Medium

Total Time: 90 minutes-2 hrs. Park Map. 

Summary: We took a trip to REI today to upgrade to an Osprey Poco Plus carrier and I ended up getting Eli the REI Tarn 18 pack (phenomenal kids pack I'll review later)...needless to say, even after a morning walk, it made us all want to get back out to the woods. I did a quick search and noted the the Heublein Tower, on the Sky's the Limit list, was a few minutes away. 

Honestly, I never researched this hike. I just knew I had the gear in the car so off we went. It was easy enough to locate the parking lot and the trailhead is very clear. There are some restrooms at the trailhead too which helps with the kids. But really I wasn't sure what was ahead (and was surprised, in a good way!)

From the parking lot, the yellow-blaze trail shoots straight up (.36 mi). Sleeping Giant State Park was a bunch of winding switchbacks that went on for too long, this was more of a steep ascent with a few turns, so while it was intense for a few minutes, we hit the top in roughly 25-30 minutes (with lots of water breaks for the 4yo). Side note: let your kid drink frequently when hiking, so long as they aren't sucking down gallons to the point of getting a stomach ache. Eli knows by heart now that one of the most important rules of hiking is to stay hydrated! 

 Steep but manageable ascent

Steep but manageable ascent

The steep incline levels off and the Yellow Blaze goes south. You don't realize it yet but you're about 10 yards from a sheer cliff. If you walk forward through the trees, you'll come face to face with the drop and an amazing view of the Connecticut horizon. Great view, totally tempting to young kids. I made sure the 4yo was clear about the rules of how close he could go and Sam...well Sam was in the carrier so he was content just to kick back and enjoy the view.

Click to enlarge panorama

Follow the Yellow south for roughly 3/4 mile over flat with mild inclines (and lots of awesome vistas!) until you reach the tower.

The tower! What the heck! I don't know how I've missed this in my life in CT. The tower is not like other towers in Connecticut. You're already 1000 feet up but now you're gazing upon a Belgian-inspired structure that dwarfs other summit towers with a 165 foot structure meant to withstand 100mph winds. It's flippin' beautiful. Turn around and you have one of the best summit views in Connecticut. 

If you happen to find yourself here Thursday - Sunday, between 10-5, you'll get to go inside. Since I didn't research, we just walked the grounds and took in the magnificent views and architecture (and water fountains and more bathrooms). 

If you're interested, CT DEEP maintains the tower but works closely with a nonprofit Friends of the Heublein Tower as well (Facebook link). They host a very cool event called Hike to the Mic which is described on their site: The Hike to the Mic -“Music and Arts Happening” will reward hikers to the Heublein Tower with great musical entertainment, food vendors and family fun. Scheduled for the afternoon until sunset on the NEW DATE 8/29/2015, this event will be a great way to celebrate summer and enjoy the “royal view” from one of Connecticut’s premier hiking destinations.

Doesn't that sound amazing? You should go...and tell me how it is. Or maybe we should get a group to go?

After a half hour at the top, we took the same route back down, stopping at a few overlooks and talked about how great the hike was the whole way home. You should go here. Really!

 Looking out, looking forward, looking onward.

Looking out, looking forward, looking onward.