While Connecticut  is not thought of as mountain-climbing country, a portion of the Appalachian Trail passes through Litchfield County, offering many nice (and some demanding) hikes along the ridges of the Southern Berkshires .
The most popular hike is Bear Mountain in Salisbury, which at 2,316 feet is the highest peak in Connecticut (though it’s not the highest point—that honor belongs to the south slope of Mount Frisell, whose peak is in Massachusetts). The summit ridge is rocky and open, giving great views of the hills all around. On the summit itself, an eight-foot observation platform gives even better views. For more information, contact the Appalachian Mountain Club Connecticut Chapter (www.ct-amc.org ).
Another good bet for some outdoor exercise is the Nature Conservancy’s Sunny Valley Preserve (Sunny Valley Rd., New Milton, 860/355-3716, www.nature.org , free) in New Milton. The site encompasses some 2,000 acres of rolling farmland and forest, with some 13 miles of trails taking in a diverse array of scenery.
The Nature Conservancy also manages the Cathedral Pines Preserve (Essex Hill Rd., Cornwall, www.nature.org , free), one of southern New England’s last stands of old-growth white pine and hemlock. The stand was devastated by a hurricane in 1989 and many trees fell; the remaining portion feels more like a hike in the redwoods of California than a hike in the Connecticut woods.
The Litchfield Hills  area is a fantasyland for bikers, where hilly climbs and long, winding back roads are rewarded with plenty of white-steepled churches and country stores. The Bicycle Tour Company (9 Bridge St., Kent, 888/711-KENT, www.bicycletours.com ) offers guided tours of the northwestern corner of the state, including both of Connecticut’s  covered bridges.
You can see the West Cornwall Covered Bridge  from underneath with canoeing tours offered by Clarke Outdoors (163 Rte. 7, West Cornwall, 860/672-6365, www.clarkeoutdoors.com ), which leads a 10-mile easygoing canoe trip down the Housatonic (4 hrs., $55 weekends, $50 weekdays for two people, additional $85 for guided tour). In the spring, the outfitter also leads more adventurous white-water rafting trips down the treacherous Bull’s Bridge Gorge in Kent, which has Class IV and Class V rapids.
The Housatonic is also known as a great river for landing trout. Fly-fishing trips are led by Housatonic Anglers (26 Bolton Hill Rd., Cornwall, 860/672-4457 or 860/387-3300, www.housatonicanglers.com , $150–350), which leads both wading and drift-boat excursions.
For Connecticut  anyway, the Mohawk Ski Area (46 Great Hollow Rd., Cornwall, 860/672-6100 or 800/895-5222, www.mohawkmtn.com , $50 adult, $42 youth 5–15, $15 children under 5) offers a chance for some decent downhill skiing, created by the same visionary who created Vermont’s Mount Snow. The mountain has two dozen groomed ski trails, including a handful of expert runs.
Cross-country enthusiasts can venture into the adjoining Mohawk State Forest (20 Mohawk Mountain Rd., Cornwall/Goshen, 860/491-3620, http://dep.state.ct.us ), which has miles of trails along the slopes of the mountain.
An S-curved lake smack dab between Litchfield , Washington, and Kent, Lake Waramaug State Park (30 Lake Waramaug Rd., New Preston, 860/868-0220, $13/site) makes a good home base for exploring the area. The park has some 80 wooded tent sites fronting one of the most gorgeous lakes in Connecticut . Swimming is also allowed at a small beach on the lakeshore.