Like many of its Litchfield-area neighbors, Kent (pop. 2,962) had a thriving iron industry until competition from larger Pennsylvania mines—with better access to post-Civil War markets—forced the local furnace to close. Now it’s a bustling upscale market town, its main street (US-7) lined with antiques shops, galleries, and boutiques that have replaced blacksmith shops and wheelwrights. The area’s transition from industry to leisure is implicit in the unusual displays inside the Eric Sloane Museum (860/927-3849, Fri.-Sun. 10am-4pm summer, $8), located along US-7, near the ruins of an early American iron foundry.
Kent Falls State Park, along US-7 about four miles north of the museum, is a nice place to take a break from behind the wheel. Along with the namesake cascade, which is most impressive after a rain, the park includes a short path through dense woods.
Beginning in the south of Kent, and parallel to US-7 for about four miles along the west bank of the Housatonic River, Schaghticoke Road is a slower, much more scenic route that gives an up-close look at the rugged geology beneath the trees. The route crosses the Schaghticoke Reservation and passes an old Native American cemetery before rejoining US-7 via a covered bridge on Bulls Bridge Road, three miles north of Gaylordsville.
The Appalachian Trail crosses the New York state line near Bull’s Bridge, south of Kent, and so should you, making your way west to Route 22 or the Taconic State Parkway if you want to enjoy a landscape that offers more fields and trees than guardrails and parking lots. Technically speaking, there’s still a large swath of New England between New York and New Milford, but most of this has more in common with the Indianapolis beltway than with the Vermont countryside.