Bear Mountain and Candlewood Lake

Mountain:  Bear Mtn. (888')
Trails:  Red Trail, Orange Trail, White Trail, Yellow Trail
Region:  CT - Northwest  
Bear Mountain Reservation
Location:  Danbury, CT
Rating:  Easy/Moderate  
Features:  Summit, lake
Distance:  Approximately 3.5 miles  
Elevation Gain:  Approximately 350 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 1:55  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 3:00  
Season:  Variable
Last Updated:  12/25/2013  
Author:  Sunshyn

Route Summary   

Make a wide loop through Bear Mountain Reservation, including visits to Candlewood Lake and the summit of Bear Mountain.

  • From the parking lot, start on Red Trail.
  • Soon you will reach an intersection where Red Trail splits. For now, take the right-hand branch; we will return via the opposite leg.
  • Keep following Red Trail for a while. You will pass an intersection with Yellow Trail on the left but keep going straight to stay on Red Trail.
  • Upon reaching a junction with Orange Trail, turn right onto Orange Trail to descend down to the shore of Candlewood Lake.
  • After enjoying the lake, retrace your steps up Orange Trail back to Red Trail and turn right to resume your trek along Red Trail.
  • You will quickly encounter another junction with Orange Trail, this time on the left; keep going straight on Red Trail.
  • You will next see Green Trail leaving to the left; stay straight on Red Trail.
  • The next junction encountered will be with Blue Trail on the left; stay straight on Red Trail.
  • Soon after is another junction where Red Trail goes left and White Trail goes straight. You should now leave Red Trail in order to follow White Trail.
  • After a short distance the path will split with White trail veering left and Yellow Trail going right. Turn right onto Yellow Trail which will lead you to the summit of Bear Mountain.
  • At another junction with a short connector trail, curve right to stay on Yellow Trail which will soon bring you to Bear Mountain Peak.
  • Continue on Yellow Trail over the peak and down the other side.
  • You'll quickly reach the other end of that little connector trail you saw on the way up; stay to the right to avoid the link trail.
  • At the next junction, bear right which puts you on White Trail.
  • Follow White Trail through a hair-pin curve to the left, avoiding a side trail that goes off to your right.
  • Keep following White Trail, again veering left to avoid another side trail that goes straight.
  • Next, you will bump into Red Trail at a point that you have not yet walked upon; turn right to once again follow Red Trail.
  • The next junction reached will be a four-way intersection with Red Trail, Orange Trail, and Green Trail. Turn right to stay on Red Trail.
  • You will soon return to the junction near the beginning of the hike where Red Trail splits. Avoid the left-hand path and keep straight on Red Trail.
  • Continue following Red Trail until it returns you to the parking lot.


Click for a PDF-format trail map for Bear Mountain Reservation (it will open in a new window).   

Map of hike route at Bear Mountain Reservation (map courtesy of Danbury Recreation Department)


  Trail Guide   

Bear Mountain Reservation, located in Danbury, sits on 140 acres and offers several trails that all loop around and back onto each other. The site includes the 888-foot high Bear Mountain Peak which should not be confused with the 2,316-foot Bear Mountain located in Salisbury which is the highest point in Connecticut.

The terrain on the reservation is mostly easy to moderate except for the Orange Trail that goes down to the edge of Candlewood Lake and is very steep. In addition to views of the lake at the end of the Orange Trail, a walk through the reserve will bring you through woods, across fields, and over hills, as well as over the wooded summit of Bear Mountain.

My most recent hike at Bear Mountain Reservation was in early September just before the leaves turned. I took my usual route on the Red Trail, which circles the whole reserve. This trail is fairly easy so to add to it I went down the steep Orange Trail to Candlewood Lake. This trail is short but strenuous. It brings you to a nice spot on the lake far from civilization. Candlewood Lake (also called Lake Candlewood) is 5,420 acres and is Connecticut's largest lake. Although the Orange Trail delivers you to a relatively narrow tongue of the lake referred to as Danbury Bay, the view is still quite impressive.

After climbing back up the hill I continued on the Red Trail until I almost reached the end where I veered off onto the White Trail that, in conjunction with Yellow Trail, goes up to the peak of Bear Mountain. Due to the heavy tree cover there isn't much of a view but it is a pleasant place to take a break.

On the way back down from the peak I came across a deer fawn hiding in the brush. We scared each other when he jumped up and bound off into the woods. I always see a few deer in that area but this was the closest encounter.

Continuing on the Red Trail I emerged, towards the end, in the big fields near the entrance of the reserve. About half a dozen people were in the fields with their dogs. A word of caution about this hike is that many people bring their dogs there off the leash. The dogs are all friendly but if you have a dog it's something to keep in mind.

CT - Northwest

  Driving Directions   

Bear Mountain Reservation is located in Danbury, Connecticut.

From I-84:
  • Take exit 6 off I-84.
  • Follow Rt. 37 North past all the shopping centers. Go past the commercialized district and eventually past the federal prison (which houses non-violent women prisoners) into the more rural part of northern Danbury. About 0.2 mile past the prison entrance, on the right, is Bear Mountain Road which is 2.8 miles from I-84.
  • Turn right onto Bear Mountain Road and follow it for 0.5 mile.
  • Turn right into the entrance of Bear Mountain Reservation where there is a large paved parking lot with copies of the trail map at the trailhead.

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