Into the Woods: Autumn in Ridgefield is a Sight to Behold

A drive along Ridgebury Road will sweep you away to a bucolic countryside.

Enjoy this article, written and photographed by guest blogger Alexandra Barnes.

There is something simply magical about the scarlet flames and pumpkin golds of autumn leaves. Though one of nature’s simplest pleasures, they are unwaveringly a sight to behold; it’s no wonder leaf-peeping is an activity unto itself. It seems this year’s fireworks are fleeting, however, so there is no better time to get outside and gaze. Ridgefield has so many beautiful places to take in the changing scenery, and we’ve put together a short list of our favorite places to walk and drive among the rustling and falling foliage.

Seth Low Pierrepont State Park

With a few different entrances to choose from, you’ll be able to take few different hikes at Seth Low Pierrepont State Park. Enter from Barlow Mountain Road (with the most ample parking and also the location of the boat ramp) and you’ll feel like your literally pulling into the forest as your tires bounce over the dirt lot kicking up autumn’s fallen leaves. The preserve was named for local diplomat Seth Low Pierrepont who gifted the land to the Connecticut State Park and Forest Commission upon his death. It should be no surprise then, that the beautiful Lake Naraneka visible from the entrance is also known as Pierrepont Pond. A marked trail leads you along water’s edge for some time before guiding you away as you dip into the woods where you’ll have an option to veer off and do a loop, or take the white trail to the end just do an out-and-back. By parking in the limited space lots on Limestone and Old Barlow Mountain Roads, you’ll have a couple loop options, taking you for longer walks under beautiful foliage, translucent and vibrant in the sunlight. Be sure to wear good sneakers as the ground can be rocky and rooted in many places, and you won’t necessarily see them as the ground continues to become covered. Launch your watercraft on the ramp near the entrance and bring your fishing pole, too! There are quite a few spots along the trail you might want to sit and stay awhile.

Pierrepont Pond is surrounded by autumn's glory.
A stroll through Weir Farm's grounds is a step back in time.

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Though not technically in Ridgefield, the Weir Farm National Historic Site is just a stone’s throw away south on Nod Hill Road in Wilton. You’ll kill two birds with one stone here, as the scenic drive to the park is just as lovely as the park itself. Wind down Nod Hill under a canopy of golden leaves past historic homes; a three-way stop flanked by stone walls, a picket fence, and antique buildings welcomes you to the beautiful national historic site. Meander past the Visitor Center through openings in the stone walls to wooded trails suitable for all ages, or bring the kids and frolic in the fields. Another trail is also accessible via an entrance just south of the entrance on Nod Hill Road. Across Pelham Road is the historic home, barn, and artist’s studio, perfect for a simple stroll, a step back in time, or even a cool autumn picnic. In the spring and summer it’s not unusual to find plein air painters set up around the grounds, rendering this idyllic space on canvas and paper.

Woodcock Nature Center

Just a few minutes down the road you’ll find the tucked away Woodcock Nature Center. Also in Wilton but still just a few minutes from Ridgefield, the nature center offers educational programs for children and teens as well as three miles of easy walking trails through state-protected woodlands. A short walking bridge ends in the midst of wetlands and you never know which of nature’s water-loving creatures you might spot here. Head back to the trails with your little ones and try to spot the woodland’s flora and fauna. Bring your pups, too, but be sure to keep them on a leash at all times and clean up after them. The physical Nature Center and playground are currently closed to the public, but there is much to gain from even a short walk along their trails and around the pond.

Immerse yourself in nature and admire the pond at the Woodcock Nature Center.
View of The Hickories farm from the unpaved portion of Lounsbury Lane, just north of the Jones Trail's head.

Jones Trail

One of town’s most off-the-beaten path trails is Jones Trail, just beyond the cul-de-sac of Lounsbury Lane. Park along the side of the road and make your way up the unpaved portion of the road (which actually continues out to Lounsbury Road to the north); a sign for the trail is on the right. Traverse this out-and-back trail through the beautiful forest blanketed in scarlet and gold. Hiking boots or a good trail sneaker are recommended as the trail changes terrain frequently; roots, moss-covered rocks, and narrow paths in places make for a hike during which you’ll need to pay attention to your steps as much as you’ll want to admire the scenery. At the peak of the first little climb is a beautiful view of the Hickories Farm. It’s a bucolic scene to be sure, and you may even see a few animals — and pumpkins! — scattered about the property. The full hike will take about an hour, becoming more hilly toward the east, and less toward the trailhead.

Ridgefield boasts an immense amount of open space (much of it suitable for children and dogs, too!) and we encourage you to get out and explore. There is no better time of year to enjoy the woods and trails — and there has been no better circumstance to spend time outdoors enjoying some crisp, fresh air. Be sure to dive into all the nature trails of Ridgefield – we invite you to explore!

Take a Country Drive (or Stroll)

Depending on the weather — or your energy level — sometimes the best way to see the foliage is by taking a peaceful drive through town’s most bucolic and quaint, nearby neighborhoods. Keep your eyes peeled for beautifully (and hauntingly) decorated front porches, and never forget to glance up at autumn’s fireworks, though it would be difficult not to notice driving through a rainbow tree tunnel! Ridgebury and Old Stagecoach Roads will take you to a faraway countryside reminiscent of North Salem; Ivy Hill, Florida Hill, Lounsbury, and Silver Spring Roads envelope you in quaint New England while guiding you over hills and around bends. Drive slowly, let others pass, and enjoy a little escape in your own town.

A drive along Ridgebury Road will sweep you away to a bucolic countryside.
Downtown Ridgefield's tree-lined streets are the iconic New England fall.

Historic Main Street

Lest we forget iconic, historic Main Street! Grab a cup of coffee in town and stroll down gorgeous Main Street to the blinking light. It’s so pretty you won’t mind turning around to head back; if you’re feeling up for, hook a left onto Route 35, take a right on Parley Street, and another right up High Ridge to King Lane. Head back toward Main Street on King Lane and come out right next to the pumpkins at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church. For the ultimate autumn experience on Main Street, take a walk on October 31st, when the homes will all be fully dressed in their Halloween best, awaiting the excited and scampering young witches and ghouls.
The magic of autumn awaits.