Rivers are consistently some of the most attractive driving companions you could ask for, a fact proven once again as US-7 rejoins the Housatonic River east of Lime Rock. The highway’s scenic miles are further enhanced by the sudden appearance of a barn-red covered bridge, which since 1864 has served as the one-lane gateway to idyllic West Cornwall. This is the kind of place that would tar and feather the first vinyl-siding salesperson to walk into town, lest harm befall its antiquarian bookshop or other clapboard buildings bearing signs from previous commercial lives.

South of town, Housatonic Meadows State Park (860/927-3238) offers riverside camping, perfectly situated for anyone considering a canoe or kayak rental from adjacent Clarke Outdoors (860/672-6365, canoe trips around $50 for two people), on US-7 a mile south of that covered bridge. Clarke’s 10-mile canoe trips include a boat, life vests, and all the gear, plus van shuttles and hot showers. Remember to bring bug repellent if you’re planning to spend time near the water.

Housatonic Meadows State Park also includes a short, three-mile round-trip trail up 1,160-foot Pine Knob, which offers fine views from its summit. Just south of the park boundary, the hikers’ Appalachian Trail crosses US-7 and the Housatonic River at the hamlet of Cornwall Bridge, then runs alongside the river for some eight miles, the longest riverside cruise in the trail’s entire 2,100 miles.