Connecticut State Route 169
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (1996)
- Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
- Length32 miles
Traverse one of the last unspoiled areas in the northeastern United States. This byway winds through history, passing colonial homesteads, churches, stone walls, meeting houses, and private schools as it connects classic New England towns. Views include maple and pine stands and glacially deposited rocks and boulders that lie strewn throughout fields.
Story of the Byway
This 32-mile drive from Lisbon through Woodstock, gives you a glimpse of what life was like for Yankee farmers. Gentle, rolling fields covered with corn stalks and apple orchards stretch as far as the eye can see. And beautiful old barns with towering grain silos still remain. Stop by Woodstock's Roseland Cottage - a national historic landmark. Or enjoy a sweet cup of cider from a roadside stand.
Off the interstates, out of city and town and suburban traffic, Route 169 offers what so few find in the daily digital whirlwind: a chance to slow down and look. A chance to breathe and see and consider.
From Norwich and points south and west, exit 19 off I-395 toward Lisbon and Canterbury opens Route 169 through a bower of sugar maple and English oak and American beech. Ahead, the highway curves, climbs and dips along the western edge of the Quinebaug River Valley into the low hills of northern New London County and then Windham County.
From the highway’s intersection with Rocky Hollow Road in Lisbon north through the towns of Canterbury, Brooklyn, Pomfret and Woodstock to the Massachusetts line, and back again, a tour on 169 can inspire a person to look and to look back, too, not just at Eastern Connecticut’s history and geography but at the underpinnings of society.
The byway follows State Route 169.
From Norwich: Get onto Interstate 395 traveling north. Take exit 83A (to SR-169) and continue north to Lisbon. The byway begins in the community of Lisbon and continues on SR-169 past Canterbury, Brooklyn, Pomfret, and Woodstock to the the border of Massachusetts where the byway ends.
Traveling South: Traveling south on I-395, take Exit 2 in Massachusetts. Travel southwest on SR-197 until you reach the junction with SR-169. This is just past the beginning of the byway. Travel south on SR-169. The byway ends in Lisbon on SR-169.
Points of Interest
From the high point of the Aicher Preserve, elevation 505 feet, one has striking views of the surrounding countryside. Below are a splendid hayfield, cornfields, and woodlands, all part of the preserve. A small lake and an alder shaded stream form the headwaters of Bark Meadow Brook. Bobolinks return from their winter home in Argentina to nest on the preserve and rear their young in the hayfield, which is not mowed until later in the season. Migrant waterfowl rest and feed on the lake and Great Crested Flycatchers call in the woodlands. American Kestrels, Tree Swallows, and Eastern Bluebirds also nest on the preserve, and Woodcock can be seen doing their courting display in the spring.
Border Woods Preserve
Border Woods is open to the public for walking and hiking; a perfect environment for the bird watchers. The land is mostly wooded, with a mix of hardwood trees, predominantly oak and hemlock, and an understory of yellow birch and mountain laurel. It’s a very hilly site, with stony unconsolidated soils and exposed bedrock. Wetlands account for approximately 7.0 acres of the property.
Duck Marsh Preserve/Wyndham Land Trust
Duck Marsh Preserve is a 146 acre wetland habitat. Ideal location for bird watching, with 2 blinds and 2 observation platforms.
The Home of Colonel Daniel Putnam. Putnam Elms is located on land purchased in 1740 by Godfrey Malbone of Newport, RI. He owned 3,240 acres that was quit claimed to his two sons. He also built Old Trinity Church located nearby on Church Street. In 1791 Daniel Putnam purchased 158 acres of the estate when he married Malbone's niece Catharine Hutchinson.
The Hill Church Labyrinth
An eleven-circuit, left-hand, classical labyrinth. A labyrinth is a unicursal maze – a maze in which you cannot get lost. There is one path in. You come back out the same way. Labyrinths are used for meditation, for prayer, for healing. When you enter the path, you choose to set yourself apart from the world.
Roseland Cottage (1846)
Built in 1846 in the newly fashionable Gothic Revival style, Roseland Cottage was the summer home of Henry and Lucy Bowen and their young family. While the house is instantly recognizable for its pink exterior, Roseland Cottage has an equally colorful interior, featuring elaborate wall coverings, heavily patterned carpets, and stained glass, much of which survives unchanged from the Victorian era. The house is a National Historic Landmark.
Rolling through Connecticut's Farmland
Starting from Lisbon and heading north on Connecticut State Route 169, you have the chance to experience everything this 32-mile-long Byway has to offer in only one day. Lisbon itself has many shops and restaurants that you can stop by and enjoy before you start your journey, but once you get started there will be plenty of other stops along the way.
Heading north, you will start to experience one of the few untouched areas in the entire northeast, with farmland that has been around for generations. After some driving, you can stop by the quaint local town of Canterbury, which contains historical sites such as the Prudence Crandall Museum and the Finnish American Heritage Hall. When you continue your journey from there, you can take a stop by the Quinebaug Wildlife Area, which provides beautiful views and plenty of paths to enjoy this protected area for wildlife.
As you head north, you reach the halfway point of the Byway in Brooklyn. Here there is plenty of opportunity to stop by and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, or even take in the culture of the area by stopping at the New England Center for Arts. After Brooklyn, you pass directly by Mashamoquet State Park, which provides wonderful views of this beautiful area.
The farming history of the area becomes extremely relevant during the last third of the trip, as there are plenty of different places to stop by. This includes Pomfret Farms, the Israel Putnam Farm, the Roseland Cottage, and much more! Your trip along the Byway will end after traveling 32 miles in North Woodstock right at the border, but you still might have time to turn around and stop by any locations that you might have missed!
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