Whether you’re hiking, camping, or participating in some other outdoor activity, Connecticut has plenty of state parks and forests that can accommodate your needs. But with over 100 official state parks in CT, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go.
That’s why we put together a list of all the top state parks in Connecticut. By the end of this article, you’ll know where to find the best state parks in your area. So, let’s dive in.
Best State Parks in Connecticut
1. Rocky Neck State Park – East Lyme
Rocky Neck State Park is one of the best state parks in Connecticut. Located on the shoreline in East Lyme, this park is a fantastic place to visit if you’re going hiking or camping in Connecticut.
The campground at this state park has 160 sites which are available from May to September (there are no hookups for RVs and trailers). Some of the park’s amenities include bathrooms, picnic tables, access to the beach, fire rings, hiking trails, and fishing.
- Address: 228 W Main St, Niantic, CT
2. Wadsworth Falls State Park – Middletown
Wadsworth Falls State Park is a wildly popular state park in Connecticut found in Middletown. It has many easy hiking trails that lead to two sizable waterfalls. In fact, Wadsworth falls has one of the best waterfalls in Connecticut.
The hiking loops at the park take about 1.5 hours to complete, plus there are other activities available like fishing, biking, swimming, and picnicking. Since there’s so much to do here, this is one of the top parks in the state for families.
- Address: 721 Wadsworth St, Middletown, CT
3. Chatfield Hollow State Park – Killingworth
Chatfield Hollow State Park is a large state park in Killingworth, Connecticut. It’s located just south of the Cockaponset State Forest and spans 412 acres.
This public recreation area is great for hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, fishing, and swimming. The park is free for CT residents, however, vehicles from out of state will have to pay a $15 parking fee on weekends and holidays.
- Address: 381 CT-80, Killingworth, CT
4. Devil’s Hopyard State Park – East Haddam
Devil’s Hopyard State Park is another Connecticut state park found in the central part of the state. The park encompasses over 1,000 acres of woodlands, along with 21 campsites and some rivers.
The property offers several outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, bicycling, and bird watching. Unfortunately, swimming isn’t allowed at the park. You can find Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut.
- Address: 366 Hopyard Rd, East Haddam, CT
5. Hammonasset Beach State Park – Madison
Hammonasset Beach State Park is one of the Connecticut state parks found along the shoreline. This park is a great place to hike if you live in the New Haven area. It features 2 miles of beachfront property on Long Island Sound, along with several trails and footpaths for hiking.
This is one of the state parks that is known for camping. The park’s campground has 556 total campsites that can accommodate both RVs and tents, making it one of the best places to camp in CT. This park is completely free for Connecticut residents to enjoy.
- Address: 1288 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT
6. Silver Sands State Park – Milford
Silver Sands State Park is another park with a beach. Located about 25 minutes from New Haven, the park is ideal for families looking to swim at the beach, but also for hikers looking for a new trail to explore.
The beach is known for its land bridge that connects Silver Sands Beach to Charles Island during low tide. But not only is this a popular hiking trail, it’s also a great spot for bird-watching. Silver Sands State Park doubles as a Natural Area Preserve for nesting birds and other wildlife.
- Address: 1 Silver Sands Pkwy, Milford, CT
7. Pachaug State Forest – Voluntown
Pachaug State Forest is another great state park in CT. This park is home to the largest forest in the state, so it’s easy to get lost on its many hiking and biking trails. The trails at Pachaug State Forest offer different levels of difficulty, so anyone can enjoy them.
The entire park encompasses 27,000 acres of land and allows for horseback riding, camping, swimming, boating, and off-roading.
- Address: Trail 1 Rd, Voluntown, CT
8. Bigelow Hollow State Park – Union
Bigelow Hollow State Park is one of Connecticut’s state parks found in the northeastern part of the state in Windham County. The park spans 516 acres and has several backpack camping sites.
Bigelow Hollow State Park is a terrific spot to enjoy nature since there are very few roads that run through the area. This park also has a ton of loop trails for hiking and biking, plus there’s a large pond that is perfect for kayaking.
- Address: 298 Bigelow Hollow Rd, Union, CT
9. Lake Waramaug State Park – Kent
Lake Waramaug State Park is a top-rated state park in Litchfield County. It’s a great place to take your family to go swimming, boating, picnicking, canoeing, mountain biking, hiking, and fishing.
Plus, this is one of the parks in the state that allows camping. The campground has 76 campsites in both wooded and open settings, many of which offer beautiful views of the lake in the center of the park.
- Address: 30 Lake Waramaug Rd, New Preston, CT
10. Burr Pond State Park – Torrington
Burr Pond State Park is one of the top CT state parks to visit if you’re looking for a swimming lake. The park has a massive pond that offers a diverse range of outdoor activities and watersports including kayaking, hiking, fishing, and swimming.
This park is also home to one of Connecticut’s many waterfalls located in Litchfield County, so you’re in for a gorgeous view. Just be aware that parking at the park is very limited, so you’re going to want to get here early, especially in the summer.
- Address: 384 Burr Mountain Rd, Torrington, CT
11. Kent Falls State Park – Kent
Kent Falls State Park is another popular park found in the western part of the state. This state park is known for its cascading waterfalls and excellent fishing spots.
It’s also a very common place for locals to go hiking. Although the trails are steep, they are relatively easy to navigate. This is one of the most scenic parks in the state of Connecticut, especially in the fall when the leaves start to change colors.
- Address: 462 Kent Cornwall Rd, Kent, CT
12. Harkness Memorial State Park – Waterford
Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford is a unique park located near New London, in the southeastern part of the state. It’s a natural historic preservation area with a botanical garden and a 42-room Renaissance Revival mansion.
The park offers tours of the gardens and the mansion, but you can also participate in other activities like fishing and picnicking. There’s a year-round campground next to the park as well, however, it’s only open to campers with disabilities.
- Address: 275 Great Neck Rd, Waterford, CT
13. Black Rock State Park – Watertown, CT
Black Rock State Park is located in Watertown right next to the Mattatuck State Forest. The state park spans 444 acres and is popular for its large rock face, which offers views of the surrounding towns.
There are plenty of things to do at this park, including swimming, hiking, fishing, camping, and field sports. If you live in Waterbury, this park should be your go-to spot to hike in Connecticut.
- Address: 2065 Thomaston Rd, Watertown, CT
14. Nipmuck State Forest, Stafford Springs
Nipmuck State Forest is a CT state park found near the Connecticut-Massachussetts state border. It’s easy to find since the park is located right off I-84 next to Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union.
This is one of the best places for both summer and winter sports in the state. The Nipmuck State Forest is one of the top places to go snowmobiling in CT, plus it allows hunting, hiking, boating, cross-country skiing, boating, and scuba diving.
- Address: 166 Chestnut Hill Rd, Stafford Springs, CT
15. Sherwood Island State Park – Westport
Sherwood Island State Park is one more park in the state that offers beach access on the Long Island Sound. It’s Connecticut’s oldest state park, but still one of the nicest.
The park has a pet-friendly beach with a picnic area, a pavilion, a jetty for saltwater fishing, and plenty of paths for walking around. The waves here are small too, so it’s the perfect place to take smaller kids swimming. If you want to learn more about Sherwood Island State Park, check out this post about the top beaches in the state.
- Address: Sherwood Island Connector, Westport, CT
16. Talcott Mountain State Park – Simsbury
Talcott Mountain State Park is the final state park on this list located in the center of the state. It’s home to one of the most highly-rated mountains in Connecticut, and one of the best hikes. The mountain’s peak is about a quarter-mile high and features a cool lookout tower.
The trails at the mountain are well-maintained and don’t take too long to hike. It’s relatively steep at the beginning, but the trails eventually level out. Once you get to the top, you’ll be greeted with a nice panoramic view of the state. You can find this park in Simsbury, Connecticut.
- Address: Summit Ridge Dr, Simsbury, CT, USA
Other Notable Connecticut State Parks
Although we covered many of the top parks in the state of Connecticut, there are dozens more not mentioned in this article. So, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford
- Penwood State Park in Bloomfield
- Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent
- Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden
- Naugatuck State Forest in Naugatuck
In addition to the state parks, there are two national parks in Connecticut. They are the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Weir Farm National Historical Park. While both types of parks are located in the state of Connecticut, there are some differences.
The difference between Connecticut state parks and Connecticut national parks is that state parks are actually operated by the Connecticut state government, while national parks are operated by the federal government.
Also, the state parks are generally larger and have more amenities available to visitors than either national park.
State Parks CT – Final Thoughts
Those are some of the top state parks CT. Since Connecticut is the state with the 10th most state parks in the country, it will take a while to visit all of them.
If you enjoy the natural beauty of the water, I recommend you check out this article covering the best lakes in Connecticut. There is some overlap, but many of the top lakes in the state aren’t part of a state park.