Damned Conn-ection: The name of the 160-acre state park is based on a dark legend involving the double suicide of a starcrossed lovers—Lillinoah, a Native American princess and an undentified white man, who allegedly jumped to their deaths together. It’s a version of a popular story that surrounds numerous high precipices and waterfalls around the U.S., including Connecticut’s own Salem’s Horse Pond. But hey, why let the veracity of the tale ruin the natural beauty that can be found here … when the park visitors can do that for you.
Noteworthy features/moments: Despite being a state park on the shore of the eponymous and picturesque Lake Lillinoah, this was not exactly a pretty walk. In short: We did not love this hike as it was super crowded with careless, loud, and litter-spreading Sunday hikers in high heels and yoga pants who were more interested in communicating with their cellphones than communing with nature.
The park is also in a sad state of disrepair—lots of downed trees and invasive plants threatening to choke out the surviving trees. Many of the trails are not marked, and the ones that are seem to have been blazed randomly.
After the lover’s leap cliff and gorge, which is genuinely impressive in itself, the next most prominent feature of the park is the Berlin Iron Bridge, a 170-foot lenticular truss over the Housatonic River, built in 1895. It’s only one of five left in the state, and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since the stroll to the cliff is fairly short—and to get away from the other park visitors—we explored the trails that ventured uphill and away from the lake. These are a bit more rewarding and offer some sights such as the remnants of the Catherine Judson Hurd estate, which includes an ivy-strewn foundation, and a short distance away, an old chimney and stone turret.
If you can pick your way along the unmarked paths (“trails” seems generous) all the way up to the top of the hill, there’s a south-facing outlook that offers a sweeping vista of Lake Lillinoah and the surrounding Clatter Valley. We only ran into three or four other hikers along the way, which was a much more pleasant experience.
Damned Verdict: Nice view, but as with the actual leap, once is enough.