Canopied with deciduous trees for most of its 10.4 miles, the Larkin State Park Trail (a.k.a. Larkin Bridle Path) is primarily a wilderness trail, with wooded vistas, wetland views and sparse residential development. Its railroad past began in 1881 with completion of the New York & New England Railroad between western Connecticut and New York. Following bankruptcy in 1894, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad took over the line until 1939. Dr. Charles L. Larkin purchased the corridor and gifted it to the state in 1943 for a bridle trail.
Because it's a bridle trail, equestrians use this trail frequently, so if you're on bike, remember to approach horses slowly and quietly; speak softly and take your cues from their riders. You may need to stop and dismount until they pass, as horses have the right-of-way.
Typical of rail-trails in southwest Connecticut, the route plies a gentle grade across rolling topography, occasionally slicing through rock outcrops or overlooking low-lying areas. The trail's crushed-stone surface is typically firm, especially in the eastern and middle portions. Surface conditions are rougher along the western section, which is rockier and somewhat eroded, making it more suitable for mountain bikes.
Near the trail midpoint at Long Meadow Road, you'll briefly leave state-owned property for a 0.5-mile on-road detour along a privately held stretch. Turn left on Long Meadow Road and right on Towantic Hill Road, then watch for trail access on the left side of the road. The onward trail offers lovely views of the boggy shoreline of Towantic Pond, then passes over wetlands on a causeway.
Near the west end, a short section between State Route 67 and Curt Smith Road is often wet and washouts persist. Hurrican Irene did some damage in 2011. At some of the numerous road crossings, the trail descends or rises steeply to the road, and approaching motorists may not see you; use caution. There are no crosswalks.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the eastern trailhead, take I-84 to Exit 17 and head south on State Route 63. After nearly 2 miles, turn right into the small parking area for Larkin State Bridle Trail. Follow the sign to the trail.
Access from the western terminus is not a viable option, as the trail is difficult to find and there's neither parking nor even room to pull over on the shoulder. Instead, take I-84 to Exit 16 and head 2 miles south on State Route 188/Strongtown Road to a trailhead with limited parking.