Lake Waramaug

Lake Waramaug, the second largest natural lake in the state, is located in the scenic LItchfield Hills, just a few miles west of the town of Litchfield. It is nestled amidst the towns of Washington, Kent, New Preston and  Warren. The seven mile road that circles the lake hugs the shoreline, and provides easy access to the views in all directions. At the west end of the lake is Lake Waramaug State Park, where camping and picnicking is available, and kayakers and canoers can put their boats in the water. The rustic hills surrounding the lake provides a tranquil backdrop for the homes that are tucked in along the road. A winery and an Austrian style inn sit up high on the north hillside, overlooking the water and the views from there are outstanding any time of year, but of course the brilliant fall foliage brings the leaf-peepers and their cameras to capture the scenery. The pleasant level road attracts all kinds of day -trippers who want to walk, cycle or simply drive through the serenity.

Sunrise at Lake Waramaug can be colorful. This view is from the State Park at the west end of the  lake.

Sunrise at Lake Waramaug can be colorful. This view is from the State Park at the west end of the lake.

What to Photograph

With the scenic lake nestled among the hills of Litchfield county, this is a great spot for those who love to shoot landscapes.  The views are spectacular from the north side, up on the hill, around the Hopkins Inn, and the Hopkins Vineyard. On a crisp, clear autumn day, try spending some time on this side of the lake to catch the views from the hillside. Wander through the vineyard to catch some of the maturing grapes on the vines, either close up or as a foreground to a wider shot. Inside the winery, housed in a renovated red barn, there might be some interesting shots to get of the wine bottles and some of the other goodies that are served there. It is a busy place in the fall when the leaves are popping with red, orange and yellows, and definitely worth the trip.

Follow North Shore Road to the tip of the lake to Lake Waramaug State Park. There is a small parking area where you can leave your car, and walk the short distance across the road to the lake for some good views from the end of the lake. Walk along the shoreline here for some landscape views, closeups of wildflowers that grow along the water’s edge, or of the boats stacked by the lake. The road winds through tall trees here, and might be worth photographing.

Lake Waramaug State Park is at the west end of the lake, and canoes and kayaks are often piled high.

Lake Waramaug State Park is at the west end of the lake, and canoes and kayaks are often piled high.

Try exploring the area up in the hills above the lake as well. Drive back out onto Route 45 and take Tanner Hill Road which winds upwards towards some homes set up on a hillside overlooking Lake Waramaug. This is a great spot to catch the sunset over the hills on the west side of the lake. There are a couple of open fields along the road surrounded by colorful trees when they are in their full autumn display, and if you’re lucky you might even catch some deer wandering the pastures.

A short drive up Tanner Hill Road brings you to some interesting scenery, like this old barn, and a good view overlooking the lake.

A short drive up Tanner Hill Road brings you to some interesting scenery, like this old barn, and a good view overlooking the lake.

When to go

Of course, being New England, this is a beautiful place to go in the fall to capture the colorful leaves on the trees surrounding the lake. It is the perfect setting  at this time of year with the lake, the sloping hills bursting with color, the attractive homes and other historic buildings overlooking the lake. In fact, it’s pretty any time of year. In the winter you might find people ice fishing on the lake, in the summer it’s lush with greenery, and in the spring, the bright yellow greens are ready to burst forth. And of course, try to plan for early morning or evening just before sunset,  for the best possible light. On a clear day, the lake is often ripple free, and may give you an opportunity to capture nice clear reflections of the trees.

Tips and Techniques

For wonderful sunrise photos, make sure to get to the state park end of the lake before sunrise.  Check sunrise and sunset times before you go to make sure you have plenty of time to set up. Listen for birds calling around sunrise, and you might be lucky to catch a bird or two if you are so inclined.  For sunset photos, you are better at the opposite end of the lake, or try Hopkins Inn or Hopkins Vineyard since they are side by side and up high overlooking the lake to the south.

Follow the road past Hopkins Vineyard to discover more interesting buildings, like this outbuilding with esplaliered trees on the side.

Follow the road past Hopkins Vineyard to discover more interesting buildings, like this outbuilding with esplaliered trees on the side.

Tourist Tips

Hopkins Inn

If you are spending a day in the area, you might want to try lunch or dinner with an Austrian flare at Hopkins Inn, an enchanting inn that has served day-trippers and tourists since the mid 19th century. It sits high on a hill on the north of Lake Waramaug, and gives expansive views of the lake, the Berkshires and the neighboring vineyard. If you are planning to have a meal here, be sure to make a reservation, especially during fall foliage season. It is a popular destination for leaf peepers and photographers alike.

22 Hopkins Road
Warren, CT 06777
(860) 868-7295

www.thehopkinsinn.com

 Hopkins Vineyard

Hopkins Vineyard is located next to the inn, and is owned by the Hopkins family, who have farmed the land since 1789. The first vines were planted in 1979, and they are now respected in Connecticut for their award winning wines. After you stop to photograph the 19th century barn and the vineyards tucked into the hillside, you can reward yourself with a taste or two of their wines.

Wander the vineyard to photograph the vines or head inside the winery for a taste or two.

Wander the vineyard to photograph the vines or head inside the winery for a taste or two.

25 Hopkins Road

Warren CT 06777 
Phone: 860-868-7954

www.hopkinsvineyard.com

Hours (May – December)

Monday – Saturday:  10:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

Hours vary with the season so check the website for updated times.

Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau

P.O. Box 968,
Litchfield CT 06759

www.litchfieldhills.com

Lake Waramaug State Park

30 Lake Waramaug Road,
New Preston, CT 06777
860-868-0220

 http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325232

Map coordinates (for GPS): N41° 42.4079′, W073° 23.0933′

Parking  is available at the state park with admission, or at the Hopkins Inn or Hopkins Vineyard if you visit either of those sites. Note that parking is not allowed along the Lake Road circling the lake, since the road is narrow and there is no shoulder.

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