Wander Always & Stay Wilde


A Day in Washington Depot, Connecticut

If you are a fan of the show Gilmore Girls (and love the outdoors), this post is for you. The Litchfield Hills region of Connecticut is located in the Northwest corner of the state and embodies the beautiful and charming characteristics of a New England town. A town within the Litchfield area is Washington Depot, one of the real towns in Connecticut where the fictional town of Stars Hollow in the show Gilmore Girls was inspired. Even if you have never watched or are not a fan of the show, there are some hidden gems in this town – close to both Hidden Valley Preserve and Steep Rock Preserve for outdoor enthusiasts. This is an especially beautiful area for the fall foliage season! The rolling hills, covered bridges, and waterfalls tucked away in each postcard-worthy town in the region are reason enough for a visit!


Located in the northeast section of Washington Depot is the Hidden Valley Preserve. 700 acres of mixed forest and meadows are within the preserve with nearly 17 miles of trails and terrain for hiking. The woods and hillside cascade into the River Valley offer stunning views at both the Lookout and Pinnacle points on the trail.

Hidden Valley Preserve: 198 Bee Brook Road, Washington Depot, CT 06794

The Thoreau Bridge is a cable-stayed, mass timber suspension bridge spanning roughly 134 ft across the Shepaug River. Named for the New England native, poet, and essayist Henry David Thoreau, the bridge features inscriptions by the cliff base and along the bridge’s steel handrails, offering a moment of reflection upon reading them. This bridge is one of the most notable sights along the trail!

This was my favorite spot in Hidden Valley Preserve. If on the Van Sinderen Loop Trail, it is a few minutes past the Thoreau Bridge cross along the river. You have to diverge slightly off of the path to reach this spot, but it was worth it!

This is my cousin Gabrielle. She is a fellow Gilmore Girls fan, and she is the one who asked me to join her for a day in Washington Depot! As one of my favorite adventure and travel comrades, and you might notice her in other posts on the blog.

About halfway through the Van Sinderen Loop Trail, you will come across the Quartz Mine. You will see the quartz rocks on the ground and trail as you pass by. In the 19th century, the mine was used to support a small mining industry in the area. The surface mine was active in the 1800s until it was abandoned in 1915.

View from the Hidden Valley Lookout point on the Van Sinderen Loop trail. With an elevation gain of only 469 feet, this trail is perfect for all ages. Such a great spot for a picnic!


After our roughly 3.5 miles on the Van Sinderen Loop Trail, we headed into the town of Washington for lunch. Marty’s Cafe was the stop for us! We had heard that this cafe inspired “Luke’s Diner” on Gilmore Girls, so it was a must-see for us. Regardless of your knowledge base on Gilmore Girls, this is the perfect breakfast and lunch spot if in the area. The decor is quaint and homey, and the food is delicious! We ordered a chili soup and a Cuban panini sandwich (with a potato salad on the side). I still think about this meal- it was so good! We took some pastries and coffee to go after our meal. I will definitely be stopping by Marty’s if ever in the area!


The next (and last) stop in town for the day was the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot. This shop is in the building next door to Marty’s Cafe, which made it the perfect spot to explore after lunch before heading back home. The shop is so charming and each section is dedicated to a different genre of books.

After the Hickory Stick Bookshop, we walked around the “downtown” area to explore other sights by foot. The town is very quiet and is the perfect location for a return trip in the fall to view the fall foliage. Gabrielle has told me that she has visited the Litchfield area for hayrides and spiced apple donuts in the fall. Basically, this is the most idyllic area to experience the fall season, but beautiful with every season.

If you have been to the other towns in Connecticut that inspired Stars Hollow or even live in a quaint town in the area, comment below!

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