Distance: 4.6 miles + short road walk
Time: 2 hours 32 minutes
Map: Talcott Mountain State Park
Parking: Off of route 185, at sign for Heublein Tower. The parking lot was closed for the winter, so there was only parking at the beginning of the park entrance road. Room for around 20 cars packed in. I later saw that there was a much nicer parking area (open) at Penwood State Park, where my hike ended.
Restrooms: At Heublein Tower
Post hike dinner: No
Follow park road, and turn left onto the yellow trail at the sign for the Heublein Tower. This is a 10' wide very popular trail. The trail was packed with wet heavy icy snow.Most of the people I saw were just wearing sneakers. The hike is uphill to the tower, definately tiring with the slushy footing.
Once you stop and see the tower (only open in the summer), continue on past the picnic area, and pick up the blue blazed Metacomet Trail. At this point you leave most of the people behind. The blue trail crosses a road (which goes to the tower), then crosses a gas pipeline, and a power line. There were a lot of blue blazed trees which weren't trail markers - presumably they were spray painted because they were dead and needed maintenance. I just wish they had chosen a different color.
The blue trail ends at the blue/red blazed Metacomet Alternate trail. I found the turn here a little confusing, as I didn't see any blazes for a while, but if you look at the map it helps. As soon as the blue blazed trail ends, turn left on a wide woods road. There is a large beautiful lake in front of you and to your right. Cross a bridge at the end of the lake, and then turn left again (here you could go straight - not shown on the map, left or right). Eventually you will see the blue and red blazes. This trail was mostly unbroken trail, with 10" of snow in spots. It was also wet - sometimes I would fall through the snow into a stream from melting snow. There will be a sign to the left for the Heublein Tower, but ignore it and continue straight. Pass the gas pipeline and the power line again.
The red and blue trail ends at the blue trail. Turn right on the blue trail. Pass the power lines again. The trail ends at Route 185, which is a very busy road. The parking area is off route 185 to the left. I didn't feel safe walking along the road, so I crossed the street, walked in the Penwood parking lot, and then on a grass shoulder until I came to the park entrance - and crossed the street again.
Notes: This was an enjoyable hike. You'll have lots of company heading towards the tower, but once past the tower, there are very few people.
A longer loop could be created. A shorter loop (3.1 miles) is described as hike #24 in AMC's Best Day Hikes in Connecticut.
|Normally this is the road to the parking area|
|Start of the tower trail|
|View near the tower|
|Road crossing - this is a road that goes up to the tower. No one on it today :)|
|Large lake. Turn left here.|
|Just after crossing the bridge. View of the lake. Turn left (away from lake)|
|Blue & red blazed trail|
|Side trail - don't take this.|
|Passing under the power lines|
|Sign at the end of the trail.|