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Running alongside both the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers, the Derby Greenway demonstrates a seamless integration of Connecticut’s natural river systems and parks with man-made interventions of the past and present. The new addition of a striking sea green bike-pedestrian bridge on the southern end of the trail exemplifies Derby’s ambition to reinvent itself as a modern town while simultaneously providing views of a historical rail line bridge and flood-control dikes that speak to the city’s history.
Derby’s success as a city is largely attributed to its ability to continually evolve its use of the Naugatuck and Housatonic Rivers over time. The rivers initially supported fishing and transportation industries, eventually became a seaport and site for shipbuilding, and at their prime served as the backbone for the town’s industrial sector. Eventually, Derby would become another example of post-industrial decline in America, but as the city strives to recruit residents, the rivers have served as a critical asset to the future of this small Connecticut town.
At the beginning of the trail, by the Main Street parking lot, guests are introduced to the transformative value of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers. Beyond their aesthetic and recreational values, they have also played a role in the restoration of the historical Birmingham National Bank, built in 1893, into a restaurant and weekend live entertainment venue, creating greater activity around the Derby Greenway.
Across from the National Bank, trail visitors begin their route on a 10-foot-wide path atop the dike containing the Housatonic River, which was erected after the great 1955 floods that devastated communities near the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers. The path leads to a new bike-pedestrian bridge that provides trail users with a great view of the Housatonic River. The trail exits the dike and descends to the boat launch area under the Commodore Hull Bridge, where parking and restroom facilities are provided.
The trail then meanders across O’Sullivan’s Island, actually a peninsula, where visitors travel on a dirt path within open park space that hosts myriad deciduous trees, many towering over the park. The trail passes through the peninsula and is flanked by a small swampy area to the east with expansive views of the Housatonic to the west. Leaving the peninsula, the route passes under CT 34 alongside a wooden barricade that separates trail users from an active rail line that runs on top of the Naugatuck River dike. The paved trail continues along the river, providing views of wildlife such as geese and hawks diving into the water for fish.
The path ends at Division Street at the Derby Hall of Fame Plaza which also includes the historic National Humane Alliance Fountain. Engraved paving bricks surrounding the fountain featuring the members of the Derby Hall of Fame, together with commemorative bricks purchased by many greenway users. The nicely landscaped area also includes a couple of benches for a peaceful respite. There is parking next to the Plaza and also across the street in a shopping center lot.
Across Division Street is the entrance to the Ansonia section of the Naugatuck River Greenway. The Derby Greenway was the first section of what will become the 44-mile Naugatuck River Greenway stretching from Derby in the south to Torrington in the north. It has been a major success since formally opening in 2006 and recent studies conducted as part of the Connecticut Trail Census show it to be the most heavily used of all the trails measured.
From I-84, take Exit 19 to merge onto CT 8 S. In 17.8 miles, take Exit 15 for CT 34 toward Derby/New Haven. Turn onto CT 34/Main St. going westbound for 0.3 mile and then turn left onto Bridge St.; the parking lot will be on your left immediately after turning.
It's really pretty, walked along the train track
Full of goose crap. Loud and noisy. Thought it would be serene and picturesque by the river, but it was really industrial and boring, with no shade. The parking lot in Derby sucks. The bridge in Derby was full of firework debris, paper and junk. Very disappointed.
The trail is not very wide (fits about four people across) and not really long enough for a decent bike ride. Best suited to walking. As others have said there are a lot of sections that are not shaded.
If you want a longer walk you can cross Division St and walk a section that was added on the Ansonia side. There are a few short inclines, most of the trail is flat.
While you are near some major roadways and there isn't much shade on the longest stretch, the beautiful scenery of the river makes it a worthwhile trip. Also, if you start near the Shelton side and walk the whole length, you end up at a Stop & Shop so you can go in for refreshments and a snack. We're from PA and were visiting relatives in CT when we wanted to get out for a nice walk. This was a great track to follow for my wife, 9 year old son and I.
Did the whole trial today was very nice
It's a nice walk but since they banned dogs from the walkway I refuse to go.. It's sad that there are no paved walkways for those who want to walk their furry Freinds and don't want to walk threw the mud or dirt I have not returned since this ban and I will not return until the ban is lifted...
The Derby Greenway is a poor excuse for a bike trail. Although paved throughout, it is very narrow and dominated by walkers. Joggers, people with strollers and dog walkers. Even the most novice of bikers will find the constant stops and near accidents quite annoying.
This is a wonderful trail, quiet even though it is near several busy streets. There is nothing wrong with the actual trail. I take exception to the new rules added to its use. I had frequented this trail prior to my daughter's birth. I chose to come walk today, one of the last warm days of the season to get back into shape, only to be turned back home due to the new ban on dogs. It is unfortunate that this country constantly penalizes the good, responsible people because they aren't able to control the irresponsible ones. And what bothers me most, they had set up stations back in 2006 for dog waste baggies, but I knew they were not refilled often and would be empty on a regular basis. This trail had the ability to prevent this ban but obviously, it wasn't a priority. I also never saw anyone monitoring the trail to fine the irresponsible owners who left their dogs waste behind. I brought my own bags, as always and was even praised by the person who warned me they changed the rules. That is why I am disappointed in this trail.
The Derby Greenway is currently a very short trail, but it is very well maintained and has the potential to become a great bike trail. At it's current length, a cyclist can bike the entire trail and back in about 15 minutes. Plans are currently underway to extend the trail at both ends. I can't wait!
This is a popular trail with area walkers and is worth a try. Keep in mind that because the trail is built on top of a flood control dyke, there is virtually no protection from the elements. In the summer, this means you will walk under blazing sun most of the way. In the winter, there is nothing to stop the wind from chilling you. The noise along Rt. 8 can grow tiresome. It will be interesting to see how this trail evolves as other towns extend it. Personally, I would rather walk someplace where there is some shade.
"Looks like someone beat me to the punch and posted their beatiful pics!
There are tenth of a mile indicators along the pavement the entire way. There are even little unpaved spurs that will eventually become part of the greenway that I explored.
It starts at Main and Bridge on the Derby side and ends at the McDonald's and Stop and Shop at First Street where that 100-year-old fountain now rests. The last .8 miles is a straightaway with a fence on both sides and it's high up so it feels like it's a railroad. Beautiful views. The only bad part about the trail, is that it's so new and almost every sign is spraypainted by the local kids. Such a shame.
This is such a great trail with adaptive reuse of the land and when finished won't be a straight line of a trail, but a system of greenways in itself.
If you go to the webpage on this page, you will see a new video up taking you on a virtual tour of the trail."
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