Heublein Tower on Talcott Mountain
Stone Tower (165 feet) on Talcott Mountain summit (1000 feet)
I don’t know which of CT’s lookout towers is the most visited, but surely it’s either this one or perhaps Sleeping Giant’s (CTMQ’s Visit here). I would guess Sleeping Giant’s. For one thing, it’s open 24-7, 365 (access to the top of Heublein is a bit more difficult and random) and for another, parking for Sleeping Giant is a little more sensible. However, call it near-hometown pride or whatever, I think Heublein’s views are better.
And there’s also a museum here. And a fun annual festival. And it shares the same family name as the liquor company who brought us such delights as Brass Monkey and Hobo’s Wife (and A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka) and no offense to my new friends at the Sleeping Giant Park Association, but I’m a Heublein guy through and through.
But the Heublein Tower has friends too. Aptly called, “The Friends of Heublein Tower.” The following is courtesy of their website:
The Heublein Tower is historically significant as the country retreat of Gilbert F. Heublein (1850-1937) co-founder of G.F Heublein and Brothers, which later became Heublein Inc., an international food and beverage importing firm. The Tower stands atop the highest point of Talcott Mountain, in Simsbury Connecticut and commands a 360 degree view of the central portion of the state. It is now owned by the state of Connecticut and is part of Talcott Mountain State Park, which covers more than 500 acres in Avon, Bloomfield and Simsbury.
Visitors who walk up the 120 steps to the observation room at the top of the Tower are rewarded with an unparalleled view of the Farmington Valley, West Hartford and the Hartford skyline.
Actually, other sources say that on clear days, visitors can see Mt. Greylock in northwest MA the Long Island Sound. Put it this way: You can see far and wide and it’s quite spectacular. I should know as I’ve been up on top of the mountain probably about 50 times and up the tower maybe six or seven times. (Again, it’s almost literally in my backyard).
And that’s pretty exciting, especially when considering the tower’s history. I’ve always liked these bits: Due to anti-German sentiment in the United States during World War I, rumors circulated that the tower was being used to inform German ships of the location of Allied vessels. In order to stop the rumors, Heublein offered the use of the tower to the state and federal governments, both of which declined.
Many famous people have been guests at the tower, where the Republican Party asked General Dwight Eisenhower to run for president. This same party was also attended by Prescott Bush, father of George H. W. Bush. Ronald Reagan also visited the tower in the 1950s while he was president of the Screen Actors Guild.
How about all that? As for you, visiting the tower is worth your while.
You can get to the tower from any direction – all on foot. Most people approach the tower taking the Tower Trail starting in the parking area off of route 185 which is about 1.25 miles long. You can also get up there from the Reservoir off of route 44 after a few miles along the reservoir and then up the southern flank of the mountain via the Metacomet. You can also park at Penwood across 185 and hike up the eastern side along the Metacomet. In addition, if you want to avoid all crowds, you can hook up with a network of Avon Land Trust trails off of Nod Road near the Pickin’ Patch to hike up it from the steeper western side. I’ve never seen anyone on those trails, but I’ve also only been up that side in the snow for some reason.
For the most part, the Tower is open from Thursday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day. From Labor Day through the end of October, the Tower is open daily from 10am to 5pm.