"In the woods is perpetual youth" - Emerson
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River Walk (Applachian Trail) Kent/Cornwall




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Difficulty: Easy or Moderate

Main Attractions: Housatonic River walk, Appalachian Trail, Bird watching, Fishing, River ecosystem.

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Nearby Hikes:
Breadloaf Mountain
Pine Knob Loop
St. Johns Cliffs

River Walk - A.T. meanders along the Housatonic River from Kent to Cornwall, Connecticut allowing for one of the more peaceful and unique hikes available in western Connecticut. The trail is flat for the most part with no major obstacles to worry about. It's about a 4 to 5 mile stretch of the world famous Appalachian Trail so the path is well maintained and easy to follow. You can enter the trail from either end (Cornwall or Kent) and take a short hike or take on the entire stretch end to end. If you're with a small group perhaps you could take two cars and park one on either end. This way as a group you can hike the entire section without having to walk all the way back to your car. Depending upon your speed and conditioning, the entire trail one way could take 1 to 2 hours...perhaps longer if you're smart enough to spot and take in the wonder of nature.

Once you enter the trail you are immediately transported into another world that's full of life with endless picturesque scenes.  The river here is free from human interference and the land opposite to the river is undeveloped so nature is the dominant force. It's the only stretch up north along the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail that follows a river bank mile after mile after mile...only a few spots down south have places like this. Subsequently, "thru-hikers" going from Georgia to Maine really look forward to this spot and I've read a number of their journals where it was picked as a favorite spot along the entire Appalachian Trail.

All types of birds, insects, mammals, water fowl, and plant life abound.  Certain things here you'll no longer see elsewhere in the state. You'll go back decades and remember what it was like as a kid before all the development and growth hit the area.  It's a classic "get away from the hustle and bustle" spot. It's really a neat place because every 1/2 mile the terrain seems to change or present a completely different environment. The river walk is Huck Finn-like where you can easily find a shady tree along the river to lay back and find some peace and quiet. At times the giant pine trees create a dark canopy and cool spots even during summer's "dog days". Other spots reveal fields with huge hardwood trees while others showcase the abundant bird life amongst thick bushes and undergrowth. At dusk and dawn wildlife use the path to access the river's water so if you're quiet it's likely a wild turkey, fox, deer, bard owl, and other unique creatures will be easily seen. Take your camera, art supplies, or favorite book and relax. This is a can't miss spot.

 (This also is prime bird watching country. Certain spots along the trail are ideal for nesting birds...and a wonderful place for migratory birds.  The ecosystem is perfect for them and there are certain species living here which are too shy to live anywhere near populated areas...birds that left or were kicked out of suburbia long ago!  The trail presents a good chance to see these unique creatures.  But you need to stop and let their world unfold to you.  It's amazing how you can hear dozens of birds singing, chirping, flying through the brush, bouncing from limb to limb, but not see them because of the dense brush/forest that abuts the path.  You're really missing out if you don't stop for at least a few minutes to check these little guys out.  Most of you won't see yellow finches, orioles, bluebirds, and the like, in your backyard so don't miss out on the chance.)

If you begin at the Kent trail head a few minutes into the hike you'll come across a hardwood forest that was decimated by some sort of tree disease. It's weird to see all the tall trees with little or no limbs, or even bark. It's beautiful in a strange way. Something is obviously wrong, but the beauty of the scene makes it a unique spot that's sure to grab your attention.

As you walk along the Housatonic River keep an eye out for all types of water activity. Ducks, fish, beaver, possibly even an elusive otter, herons, birds...they all use, live, or play in the water and a keen eye will spot tons of wildlife. And don't forget to look up into the dark pines...owls love hanging out in spots like this. You're likely to hear their unique call at dusk.

Directions: For the Kent entrance take Rt. 7 to the center of Kent and then Rt. 341 west.  About 1/2 mile you'll go over a small bridge and see the Kent School on your left with their athletic fields on the right.  Take the right onto Skiff Mountain Rd. just over the bridge and proceed so that the baseball field, tennis courts and football field are on you left. Another 1/2 mile later you'll see a dirt road on your right side with a sign signifying the entrance to the Appalachian Trail.  Follow this dirt road until it ends (about 2 1/2 miles).  Warning: The dirt road is very bumpy with lots of potholes. If you go slowly there shouldn't be any problems but if you have a nice brand new car/suv and are overly cautious about it, then take it extremely slow or go up to the Cornwall entrance.  The trail head is clearly marked at the end of the dirt road.

The Cornwall entrance can be accessed by taking Rt. 7 north going past Kent and into Cornwall.  A few minutes past the Cornwall town line Rt. 7 and Rt. 4 intersect.  Bear to your left as 7 and 4 meet. You'll come to a stop sign.  7 and 4 become the same road for about a 100 yards before Rt. 7 bears right again and heads north (while Rt. 4 heads left and steeply rises to the east).  Just as Rt. 7 bears to right and starts again, there is an immediate right off of 7 (and I mean immediate). This small road is called River Road and is easily missed if you're not going slow.  Follow River Road as it winds around and starts heading south along the Housatonic River which in now on your left. A couple miles later you'll clearly see a dirt road to the left with clearing for parking. This is the Cornwall entrance to the river walk.   ( You can also try Mapquest.com for custom directions. )

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