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First a canal, then a railroad, and now a trail define the history of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. Completed segments span Connecticut south to north, from New Haven to the Massachusetts border, for nearly 50 miles. A multiyear work in progress with only a couple of gaps remaining, the trail will total 57 miles when finished. Across the state border, the trail connects with Southwick Rail Trail, part of a developing trail system that will one day span 25 miles to Northampton, creating a key interstate route.
The paved pathway follows the Farmington Canal, once the longest in New England. Built between 1824 and 1835 to get farm products to market on boats towed by horses and mules, it became obsolete in the railroad age. The New Haven and Northampton Company replaced the canal with a railroad between New Haven and Plainville by 1847. Mergers and acquisitions created the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, which operated until 1969 when it was consolidated into Penn Central. As the rail corridor became disused in the 1980s, a citizens group pushed for the rail-trail project. The first section opened in 1993.
Today, the trail runs through the population centers around New Haven in the south to the more rural communities, forests, and farms in the north. From Simsbury south to New Haven, the trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a developing trail network that will span the Atlantic Seaboard. It also meets both ends of the 16.5-mile Farmington River Trail, which is shaped like a C between Simsbury and Farmington.
Southern Section: New Haven to Southington
Yale University anchors the trail’s southern terminus, with easiest access off Hillhouse Avenue. (Plans are under way to extend the trail another 2 miles to Long Wharf Nature Preserve in New Haven Harbor.) Heading north, the path travels through a narrow park. As you enter Hamden in 2.5 miles, you’ll pass through nearly 3 miles of green space surrounding Lake Whitney, which provides a reserve source of drinking water to the area.
Entering the Mount Carmel neighborhood, on the right you’ll pass Sleeping Giant State Park, which rises to a rocky outcrop and summit observation tower. With a little imagination, the mountain appears as a reclining giant from head to toe.
You can learn more about the historical canal at the Lock 12 Historical Park in Cheshire. You’ll get another history lesson at the circa 1890 Southington Train Depot and Museum just past Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike/CT 322 in Southington.
Northern Section: Plainville to the Connecticut–Massachusetts State Line
The longest gap on the trail is between Lazy Lane in Southington and Northwest Drive in Plainville. The railroad corridor is still in use through this area, but an off-road trail option is being studied. Trail parking is available on either side of this gap at Mill Street in Southington and Northwest Drive in Plainville.
Arriving at Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington, you can go straight to stay on the canal trail or left to the trailhead of the Farmington River Trail. Both end up in Simsbury, though the river trail is 16.5 miles compared to 11 miles on the canal trail. Bump-outs on the 400-foot former railroad bridge across the Farmington River allow trail users a better view of the river.
Not far up the trail you’ll enter hardwood forests around Avon. The route takes a 1.8-mile detour on sidewalks and paths around the town center. Follow the bike route signs to the trailhead in Sperry Park. The trail rolls through suburban neighborhoods and past light industrial parks for 4.2 miles to Simsbury, where you’ll hit the connection to the Farmington River Trail at Drake Hill Road and Hopmeadow Street. A half mile ahead on the left you’ll see the Simsbury Railroad Depot, built in 1875; it’s a restaurant now.
The trail heads north from the depot 10.3 miles through farms and forests to the state line. Along the way, you’ll pass pockets of residential and commercial development.
To reach the trailhead on the Yale University campus: From I-91, take Exit 3 and merge onto Trumbull St. Go 0.3 mile and turn left onto Hillhouse Ave. The trailhead is on the right. Look for on-street or garage parking; campus parking is free on weekends and after 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
To reach the trailhead on Mill St. in Southington: From I-84 N, take Exit 30 and turn left onto Atwater St. toward Southington. Go 400 feet and turn right onto Marion Ave., and then go another 400 feet and turn left onto West St. In 1.1 miles turn right onto Mill St., and then go 0.9 mile to parking on the left. From I-84 S, take Exit 30 and turn left onto Marion Ave. Go 0.2 mile and turn left onto West St. Go 1.1 miles and turn onto Mill St., and then go 0.9 mile to parking on the left.
To reach the trail near Northwest Dr. in Plainville: From I-84 E, take Exit 37 and turn left onto Fienemann Road toward Farmington. Go 0.5 mile and turn left onto US 6/Colt Hwy. Go 2.5 miles and turn left onto CT 552/Scott Swamp Road, and then go 0.2 mile and turn right onto CT 10/Main St. In 0.9 mile turn right onto Northwest Dr. Go 0.8 mile and look for parking on the right. From I-84 W, take Exit 39 and merge onto US 6 W. In 3.2 miles turn left onto CT 552/Scott Swamp Road, and follow the directions above from there.
To reach the trail near Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington: From I-84 E, take Exit 37 and turn left onto Fienemann Road toward Farmington. Go 0.5 mile and turn left onto US 6/Colt Hwy. Go 1.3 miles and turn right onto Reservoir Road, and then go 0.4 mile and turn left onto Diamond Glen Road/Hatter Lane. Go 0.6 mile and turn left onto CT 10/Main St., and in one block turn right onto Meadow Road, which becomes Red Oak Hill Road. Go 1.3 miles and turn right onto Tunxis Mead Road and look for parking at the athletic fields. To reach the trail, return to Red Oak Hill Road, turn right, and follow the sidewalk 0.3 mile to the trailhead. From I-84 W, take Exit 38 and merge onto US 6. In 2.1 miles turn right onto Reservoir Road and follow the directions above from there.
To reach the northern trailhead: From I-91, take Exit 40 onto CT 20/Bradley Inter-national Airport Connector. Go 6.2 miles on CT 20, and turn right onto Newgate Road. Go 1.8 miles and turn left onto Copper Hill Road, and then go 0.2 mile and turn right onto Griffin Road/Copper Hill Road. Go 1.9 miles and turn left onto Phelps Road. Travel 0.7 mile and look for parking on the left.
Road part of this trail as an out and back in conjunction with the Southwick RT and the Columbia Greenway RT from Avon, CT, to Westfield, MA, an approximately 50 mile round trip (25 on the Farmington Canal Trail).
The trail is in very good condition. The transition to the Southwick Trail at the CT/MA border (with no road crossing) is seamless.
Road crossings decrease as you head north and are well marked with push-button warning signals to alert traffic.
Half Mile Falls Park at the north end of the Columbia Trail in Westfield is definitely worth a stop!
Rode Plainville CT to CT/MA border. Northern section. I like that you go through many towns on the lower half then out in the country from Simsbury north. Beautiful scenery. Paved the whole way, some sections with roots coming through.
Started at parking lot near Simsbury Airport and went north to the end (including the Southwick Rail Trail & Columbia Greenway Rail Trail) in Westfield - 30 miles r/t. Trail surface is in great shape with road crossings all well marked and navigated. Lots of country & wetland views, well shaded and moderately traveled (a nice summer Saturday) w/ plenty of portapotty & bench stops along the way. We were on our E Bikes. Wife rates this as a "we will be back" trail even with the hour car trip.
I ride a lot of rails trails and this frankly did not blow me away. There are some great sections with great canopy and nature but there's miles that feels like a glorified sidewalk next to traffic. A couple very large cracks and sections with bad pavement in the New Haven area. You'd think that would be the most maintained section but I guess not.
Great trail and very scenic. All paved and pavement in very good shape. Parked at lot on New Britain Ave. and went NW to Collinsville and then to Rte. 44 in Canton. Then rode trail back to start.
10 miles each way. Very enjoyable journey. 90%+ of ride is on nice wide trail. First half of trip is constant, gentle up gradient. Ride back about 60% faster since going mostly gently downhill along river.
I wish I could give this 4.5 stars.
It is really two separate trails with a five-mile gap. I rode both sections. The bottom section was slightly nicer and might have squeaked out 5 stars on its own.
Most of the trail is shady and scenic. the pavement is generally smooth but a few roots. However, in the northern section it is not really well-marked and a bunch of times I needed to pull out my GPS, either to guess which way to go at a fork or as the poor marking meant I went off trail. The lower section has a part in northern New Haven where it is not kept up as well and there are lots of road crossings.
So many great parts. Especially the section that hooks up to Collinsville.Love biking by or over water.
Very smooth and safe. Great with kids and beginners. Lots of trees and not too crowded. Highly recommended.
I've logged about 20k miles of road biking across the United States namely in WA, MO, OH, PA, MD and FL, and maybe 10% of that on trails. To get to stay 99% of the time on a car-free trail for almost 50 miles (as a loop) is rare- and to have some scenery- is nearly unheard of. Thrilled to be in CT now and using this as my go-to ride.
The trail is over 50 miles so it’s tough to give it an overall rating as some stretches rate five stars, and some less than five stars. I’ll try to break down each town, starting at the southern end. I’ll note upfront that the entire trail is paved and well maintained and most stretches can get crowded. And the trail is mostly flat and straight but there are some hills and twists. New Haven: I’ve only been on the section a few times and they’re still working on finishing it. It’s a urban trail with little scenery and lots of street crossings. If you live in New Haven, it certainly is a great place to start a ride. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to ride on it. Three stars. Hamden: Overall, a good section as it is scenic and there’s a 6-7 mile stretch with no street crossings. This is the only section of the trail that is hilly, but they’re mostly short and not too steep. There are a few spots where the trail is bumpy. Five stars. Cheshire: another enjoyable stretch with nice scenery. There are a number of street crossings and for whatever reason, I’ve found the drivers in this area to be overly obnoxious and not letting you cross without an issue. But I could just be my bad luck in the area. Four stars. Southington: the southern end is fine. But I rarely ride the bulk of the trail in Southington. It’s crowded, not scenic, many street crossings, and little protection from the sun or wind. Also, the trail currently ends before I84. One plus is there are spots to stop for a bite to eat. Two stars. Farmington: the newly opened southern two or three miles is wide open with few trees to stop the sun or wind. There’s nothing wrong with it but it’s just not the nicest section. The original three or so miles is a five star section with lots of trees, scenery, and few street crossings. Another plus is you can connect with a 10 mile trail to Canton. Four stars. Avon: the first two or three miles is a great extension of the trail in Farmington. But the trail ends at the Avon public works garage and then it’s cutting through a parking lot, down a road, on a sidewalk, through the police department parking lot, on another sidewalk, and then crossing busy route 10. Overall, three stars. Simsbury: like Avon, a mixed bag. The southern section is going through residential sections, behind car dealerships, few trees, crossing route 10, and riding on sidewalks. Once you hit the downtown area, it improves. Overall, three stars. East Granby: a nice section with some minor hills, curves, open areas, and some flat areas with trees. This is one of my favorite stretches as it offers diversity. Five stars. Suffield: another good stretch. There’s a few spots where tree roots have pushed up the pavement but it’s not too bad. Five stars. Massachusetts: technically, it’s a different trail but it’s really a continuation of the same trail. I think there’s about seven miles currently paved with another mile or so planned. There are a few minor hills and there are some open sections with little sun or wind protection. But overall a nice ride. And this section generally isn’t too crowded. Toss a coin on whether it’s a four or five star stretch.
Rode from Southington to New Haven and back. Beautiful trail. A must for anyone biking in CT.
Parked in new haven and had a great ride to Cheshire. A lot of streets to cross at the beginning and end but still nice in new haven. Once things open up it is a perfect ride.
We rode our bikes all the to Southwick, Massachusetts.... what a beautiful ride. Paved trails and amazing scenery. Just asking for consideration if you are going to stop, pull of the paved trail. People tend to stop in the middle not giving consideration to the bikers, joggers and people walking
I have ridden this a few times. Very nice trail. Well maintained. Beautiful area.
Enjoyed a ride from Simsbury past the Mass line and back. As always, well maintained, a few frost heaves here and there but nothing major. As we were riding we noticed some trail widening in progress in Simsbury/Granby. The area across the Mass line is very well maintained and passes some fields and a nice golf course. Thoroughly enjoyable!
September 5 2019. Best Rail to trail we have ridden on. We started at the parking area in Hamden and went north 12 miles. Most of the trail was smooth as fresh tar. We almost did not do this trail because of the reviews but they were wrong. If you like smooth riding and well marked, this is the trail for you
My wife and I have been using this trail for years primarily for in-line skating. It is a fantastic trail that is extremely enjoyable each time we are there, however we have noticed over the last few years a real deterioration in the sections in Cheshire and Hamden. The wooden bridges are breaking down that is it dangerous to skate over them, due to the holes that are developing. The inevitable tree roots are getting more and more noticeable and need to be addressed before the ruin the trail any further. The trail needs to be swept and blown regularly, as the stones, gravel and branches all over the trail are noticeable and a hazard to both in-line skaters as well as bikers.
We rode a total of about 34 miles,17 miles there & back.. We enjoyed this trail,its different then a lot of trails,you are all over the place,riding in residential,the woods,past the Monrovia Nursery,then into the town..but all on paved ground..Good signage.little bumpy in a few spots,but over all pretty good. Mostly flat with a few small climbs.Would like to go back & finish the trail..
Long Wharf to Yale is partially on-road, busy and tricky. Agreements with landowners have been completed and future construction will eliminate some of the on-road. 2018 trail completions in Cheshire and Southington make the trail continuous for 23 miles.
The remaining section in Southington is scheduled for construction in 2020. The Plainville section is currently in design. Construction could start in 2021. It might be phased, so construction might be complete in 2024 or later. When the Southington section is complete it will be relatively safe to ride on-road across Plainville.
From Northwest Dr on the Plainville/Farmington border the trail goes continuously to Main St Westfield about 34 miles. A few railroad bridges in Westfield have to be rebuilt to complete the trail to the Westfield River
North of the Westfield River the railroad is active. The best on-road routes include hilly and traffic. In Southampton the trail will be on the abandoned railroad right of way, but the right of way has not yet been purchased.
Getting to the trail in Easthampton requires about 10 miles of on-road. The last 7 miles of the trail to Northampton are complete
My wife and I rode our tandem from the Brickyard Rd Trailhead northward to the Phelps Rd Trailhead (just short of the MA line). The route is pretty well marked and the pavement is good. Most of the trail/roadway crossings have pedestrian/cyclist buttons to trigger the traffic warning signals and the cars do stop when they see you standing at the crosswalk.
Regarding places to eat: We only saw a sign for one business along the trail. I recommend doing a google search ahead of time to see what's nearby and plan accordingly.
Quick update that a stretch of trail less than one mile between Cornwall Av. and West Main St. in Cheshire is now officially opened, avoiding a detour onto Willow St. There is now a continuous, paved, off-road stretch of trail some 25 miles from Temple St. in downtown New Haven to Lazy Lane in Southington.
I am lucky emough to live 1/2 mi from the Farmington Valley Trail and use it quite frequently along with a few of my friends.
I used to ride my horse along this route before it was scheduled for paving for a rail trail. Back then very FEW people used it. Mostly young motorcross kids and horseback riders.
Since it has been paved - horses are now NOT ALLOWED!! (Too bad for us); but as I have moved away from horse riding to personal trail use I am SO HAPPY that I have this wonderful gift in my back yard. There are many many miles and it spans on into southern massachusetts as well.
The trail itself is wonderful; paved, stripe’d and mowed in my area. I have ridden into Mass and south to Simsbury. Before my section was paved I had to load my bike and drive to Simsbury and unload, reload etc. Now, I just hope onto bike (or walk) and go for as long or far as I choose. The scenery is mostly rural, treed and very few homes are seen unless you are crossing streets. I know there are black bears near our home (area) but have not SEEN one ON the trail (daytime use).
It is SUCH a marvelous thing - and I see dozens and dozens of folks biking, walking, & rollerblading. Its a joy to be out in nature!!
Well-maintained, great bike ride. Lots of really cool stops along the way. Beautiful views on the trail north of Hartford.
My wife and I rode the trail in five segments, each approximately 20 miles each. My wife rode her 3-wheeled recumbent and I my Mt Bike. The trail is very level and has only a very few hills. Due to Autumn leaves and the wonderful foliage along the entire route, there was a considerable amount of leaves and other debris on the trail. In Cheshire and Hamden, the Parks and Recreation Dept personnel were cleaning and maintaining the trail every day we were there. The trail is well used by all, the surface is almost completely asphalt; unfortunately, rest room facilities are somewhat lacking...be sure to plan accordingly and take advantage when the occasion arises. WE LOVED THE RIDES!!
We completed the ride during 5 different segments during Autumn 2017 and each ride approx. 20 miles. Hands down the Cheshire and Hamden segments were best maintained in terms of leaves/branches/acorns/etc being cleared from trail. Each time we rode those two city segments we saw city parks and recreation employees working on the trail and/or performing nearby grounds maintenance; BIG ATTA-BOY to those 2 towns. Our last segmented ride was Simsbury to Southwick MA; the trail was covered in leaves in most areas but didn't limit our travel. Of all the miles we rode, there was only one rest room facility (Cheshire), the remainder of the ride had portalets (pretty clean). We HIGHLY recommend this trail. Southington and Plainville are very near completing their final designs to make the trail complete.
beautiful , shady, flat trail. plenty of parking spots.
Southington, CT "Really Gets It" as this trail passes thru their town. Lots of : Parking, Picnic Tables. Restaurants, A Drinking Fountain & Portapotties. Probably a bit of pride.
Rock & Roll!
Per "Record Journal" Newspaper New Section of "Farmington Canal Heritage Rail Trail" (Curtiss St & Kane St) to Lazy Lane. Happy Trails, RVC (tn) "Zenith"
The 0.65 mi. extension of the trail from Curtis St. to Lazy Lane is now open although the connection from the old end of the trail at Curtis St. still requires crossing a tricky intersection. Lazy Lane is now the best place to start in Southington as there is a big new parking lot and that location provides easy access to and from Rt. 10 off the I-84 Queen Street exit. It is now 8.5 miles of continuous very well paved and completely off road trail from Lazy Lane in Southington to Rt.68 (West Main St.) in Cheshire. If you take the short .75 mile ride down Willow St. off of West Main St. to the Cornwall St. entrance of the trail you can get back off road very quickly. I rode the first .75 mile section of the trail south from Cornwall St. to Higgins Road to make it a nice 10 mile one way trek from Lazy Lane but I was surprised to see how many cracks there were on this part of the trail. They were all pretty much filled in but since they are very frequent and extend completely across the trail it was not very comfortable riding for a road bike. In contrast I don't recall seeing a single divot on the 8.5 mile section from Lazy Lane to Rt. 68. Another interesting aspect of this 10 mile section of the trail is that the first 4 miles headed south provides no shade at all in the September mid-afternoon and then the next 6 miles starting at about Rt. 322 is almost completely shaded. On a nice mid-70's afternoon that lack of shade in the beginning was actually very comfortable but I imagine it is kind of hot on a mid-summer afternoon. The contrast between the 2 sections of this 10 mile route makes for a great ride as those changes also parallel the route starting urban and turning almost rural by route end.
I rode from Farmington to Mass. three times , Cheshire to New Haven one time, and Cheshire to Southington twice. I rode Farmington River Trail to Simsbury via Farmington Canal Heritage Trail several times. I am getting excited waiting for the 9.1 mi connection between Southington and Farmington. It has been an enjoyable summer of 2017 riding. Yes I am a member and intend to be for a long time. Great job to all involved.
Work has begun on (New Section) (Curtiss St Jct Kane St) to Lazy Lane (Southington, CT). However it won't be open until they fix the dangerous street intersections of (I believe Curtiss & Kane) (Was written in the new paper). Very Dangerous. Will be nice to have a new section! (When Done)
Happy Trails, Russ C
They recently put the steel in place for the bridge over CT RT 6 in Farmington for Farmington Canal Rail Trail (FCRT). The section maybe in the maybe done in the fall of 2017? It should be complete rather fast! I scouted it out via car lots of this section done.
Trails, Russ C (tn) "Zenith"
Started in Hamdon and road to Southington. Round trip was 28.04 miles. Rented bicycles from Cheshire bike shop which was all of 50 feet from trail. Trail was nicely paved the entire way except for a very short detour.
Took my brand new bicycle on its maiden voyage on this trail. It was great fun. Rode for about 3 hours and loved every minute of it. The historic information posted along the trail is nicely done. The fact that there are restrooms at the trail head is fantastic! They really did a nice job with this trail. Highly recommend it for all. Very kid friendly.
With the southern section nearly continuous from New Haven to Southington (minus the West Main Street-Cornwall Avenue gap in Cheshire), the next major gap is Plainville and its surroundings. The Curtiss Street-Lazy Lane segment is due to be constructed as part of the SRS Superfund remediation, though it looks like not much has been done yet besides brush-cutting. The small bridge immediately north of Curtiss Street has also been re-decked for trail use. Lazy Lane-West Queen Street is in the early stages of planning as a state project and will bring the trail almost to the end of the active railroad.
Heading north from Plainville, the trail construction from Northwest Drive to Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington is moving right along, with most of the trail already paved. The last major piece here will be the Route 6 bridge, which is due to be installed in 2017.
The active railroad between Birch Street in Southington and Northwest Drive in Plainville will present challenges to resolving the remaining gap, but a study is underway to determine the best possible routing.
I recently road the newly constructed Cheshire Section, West Main Street to Route 322 in Southington. It is in place and ready to use. It will be officially opened in December but don't let that stop you. I thought it was very pretty. If you roll on north to the trails current end in Southington near Curtiss Street, it is 8 miles one way.
When you get back to West Main Street, if you have more energy, turn left on West Main and right on Walnut. Go 3/4 miles to Cornwall where you can continue south toward New Haven. Rumor has it that the missing 3/4 section is designed and will be started in 2017.
A new section of the Farmington Canal Trail is under construction from Northwest Drive in Plainville to the current southerly terminus in Farmington. A 2017 finished is possible for this new piece of trail. All that will leave out is the short Southington and Plainville sections.
A new 1.5 mile section opened in Cheshire in September 2016. It is not connected to the northern terminus of the old section at Cornwall Ave., but is easily reached from that point by taking a one-mile detour on lightly-used Willow Street. Within this section from W. Main St. (Rt. 68) to Jarvis St. there are the abutments of two bridges that once carried other tracks over this railroad and canal. At each site there is a large sign which was blank when I was there but should soon describe what was there. There is also a well-built observation platform overlooking a stagnant pond. This may have been a wide spot in the canal where barges going in oposite directions could pass.
Just north of Jarvis St. there is a large parking lot with two composting toilets. The trail north of here seems to be almost completed all the way to connect with the existing section in Southington, but there was a sign indicating closed, under construction when I was there. A very interesting little section.
Kudos for all who have put in the energy and effort to make this trail happen! I just took 3 hours (up and back) from Plainville to Cheshire! Really lovely!
And it looks like they're almost completed on paving the bridges! Perhaps the next time I visit it'll be completed.
The Farmington Canal Heritage has evolved and continues to evolve into a destination of national significance. For what was to be my first time on this trail, as an out-of-stater I decided to start in Simsbury. It is a lovely town with lots of good restaurants and some history attached to it. The intent was to go up its northern end (about 8 to 9 miles), come back and take the Farmington River Trail to Farmington, and then return to Simsbury on the Farmington Canal Heritage trail.
There is plenty of parking in Simsbury right across from the trail along the Iron Horse Blvd. The day-ride went great, except that I ended up in Westfield, MA. The reason for that was that the trail does not end per se until you get to Main Street in Westfield on top of the Stop & Shop parking lot. If you start in Simsbury and go north, the official end of the trail is somewhere south of Congamond Road (168) in Southwick. There is a brown marker at the border between Connecticut and Massachusetts but mesmerized by the scenery chances are you are going to miss that.
From there on you are on Southwick Trail, which runs for 7 miles. At Shaker Road in Westfield, it turns into the Columbia Greenway Trail, which runs for 2 miles or so to Main Street. It ends in a link fence above the Stop & Shop store. The expansion will be completed within the next years, and I was told you would not have to cross streets in Westfield. It’s going to be bridges and such.
Overall, From Simsbury to Westfield you have 19 miles, which makes it into a nice morning ride of about 40 miles round-trip. The trail is, indeed, beautiful, largely countryside, and with very few and insignificant exceptions the asphalt is in a very good condition. The last two miles, the Columbia Greenway Trail, are in a perfect, dream-like condition. The trail is mostly shaded, plenty of places to pull off and rest, restrooms included. It is mostly flat and the parts with a little bit of a grade are by no means a challenge. There are also restaurants here and there catering to the trail users, such as the Red Riding Hood’s Café on Congamond Road crossing in Southwick.
Now, to get to Simsbury, you start in Farmington. There is plenty of parking in Tunxis Mead Park, next to the baseball fields, and you will also find restrooms there. This is not the official start of the trial, though, which is .8 miles from where you parked your car. To get to the beginning of the trail you ride you bike back to Red Oak Hill Road, turn right, go up the hill and you will soon arrive at the gate for the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail on the right. If you want to take the Farmington Trail go straight ahead. From Tunxis Mead Park to Simsbury you have about 12 miles of asphalt with a slight grade here and there. Careful in Avon, where the trail goes on Security Drive through a couple of parking lots and behind the Police Station. This is an area where you could lose the trail if your instincts fail you since there are not enough signs to guide you. From Tunxis Mead Park to Westfield you have a total of 31 miles.
The southern section of the trail starts in New Heaven, but I would not recommend using that as your starting point because of the parking. That said if you are from out of town, you could find paid parking in a number of parking garages in town and then ride your bike to approximately 396 Temple Street, where the trail starts. I began my ride at the northern end of the trail, where there is plenty of parking.
Speaking of the northern end of the Southern Section, at one point in time the trail will connect with the Central Section in Farmington. For now, though also named the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, the Southern Section is something apart from the Central Section, and includes actually two separate sections. The one at its very northern end starts at 604 Canal Street in Plantsville, and it runs most of its 3.8 miles through the town of Southington to Hart Street. It passes through residential and local business areas, it is well maintained and you could see the effort the locals have put into making riding, running or walking along it into a pleasant experience. Among others, you will ride along beautiful murals on both sides of the trail. While apparently they are working at extending the trail south of Plantsville to connect it to the other section, the one that begins in Cheshire and ends in New Heaven, the only way you could get, on the bike, to Cheshire is by taking very busy roads. So once I was done with this shorter northern section of the Southern Section, I mounted my bicycle on the rack and drove to Cheshire (about 15 minutes), where I picked up the main portion of the trail.
The main part of the southern section of the trail starts at Cornwall Avenue, in Cheshire. There is plenty of parking there but on a busy weekend the parking lot could be full. All you have to do is drive five minutes down the road to 453 N. Brooksvale Road where there is another big parking area. From there, if you are there to do the entire trail, go back north on the trail for 1.5 miles to Cornwall Avenue, and then turn around and go south all the way to New Heaven. The trail is in great condition, and with the exception of a few spots, which are well marked with paint, the ride is as smooth as it gets. It is mostly flat, with a couple of very short climbs, mostly shaded, with lots of benches, some of them adorned with pot flowers to make your experience more delightful.
Once you cross Morse Street in New Heaven, you will enter a section of the trail with lots of crossings until you get to the end of the trail at Temple Street. There is a tunnel under the Temple Street but the gates were closed the day I did the trail, which was during the week, so expect your ride to end here. Some maps show an additional 1.5-mile section to Interstate 95. If you have time on your hands, it will be a good idea to take the short side-path up to the Temple Street. You are more or less in the middle of Yale University, with impressive historic and modern buildings that belong to this prestigious Ivy League research private school. From Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire to Temple Street (College Street) in New Heaven you have approximately 14 miles.
The completed section into downtown Westfield is beautifully completed, safe and smooth. A superb job.
I rode my road bike the combined 30 mile run from the head of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail onto the Southwick Rail Trail at the MA state line and then up the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail to its end in Westfield, MA - and then reversed it and rode back to Farmington for a nice 60 mile round trip on a very windy but beautiful June morning. So, I am rating this trail in both directions.
The Farmington Trail is generally a very nice, well marked and well maintained trail. Road crossings are well designed with electronic signal options at many crossings. The paved surface is mostly in really good shape, but several sections - especially more wooded ones - have root/frost heave "speed bumps" typical of rail trails so keep your handlebars well in hand! Bridges are beautifully made and in great shape - I was really impressed with the investment made in high quality trail structures and side stops.
The southern sections through Avon and Simsbury put you on a few sidewalk-like stretches along the road that I could do without, but they are necessary to get through the more congested lower section of the trail and are a minor nit - but combined with the "speed bumps" it's enough to drop from 5 to 4 stars.
As you head north it opens up more into long wooded sections with a few winding turns required as you pass around a plant nursery and farm. After that is is pretty clear sailing to the MA border and beyond. It's a great ride, and I congratulate and thank everyone who made this trail happen.
Had a great day with the family. A nice trail to get your feet wet.
Great trail for running long distance (9+ miles)
The southern part of this trail starts on the campus of Yale University. If you use the RTC mapping feature, follow the directions exactly. The trail starts under the Temple Street Bridge, next to the Hadley dorm. Street parking on a Sunday was no problem this time of year. The trail to Cornwall Avenue in Cheshire has many street crossings; however, most of the streets weren't heavily trafficked. This is a flat trail with a little elevation in Hamden. You also pass some areas with services if you need a drink or snack. There are some postings on the RTC website that mention a section where riders are hassled. We didn't encounter any problems. But as always, be safe.
The trail itself is great....if you get tired of "flat" Copper Hill Road and Phelps Road crossings lead to wonderful country riding...lots of hills to find and climb!
I love the northern section of this trail, from about Iron Horse Boulevard in Simsbury North to the Massachusetts line. The area through Granby is just beautiful and the towns in that area have done a TREMENDOUS job with trail maintenance. It's like riding through Vermont! Congrats to all.
On beautiful Monday Labor day holiday (9/7/2015), I went with my friends on this trail. This was my first bike ride with friends. I had my hybrid ready to rock on trail, it did!!... we completed 26 mile trail from new Britain ave thru Avon, Simsbury and returned back!...
Road is smooth and they did great job in paving the road.. it was one just smooth pleasure ride!...
When I was growing up I was always right this trail and it was always great
I just love this trail. It is paved and it goes on forever and it is green and lovely.
I love the Simsbury to Westfield MA section. Simsbury is a bike friendly town with a free bike rental program, (http://www.fvgreenway.org/news/News.Detail.asp?id=1395433065). We park in the huge lot on Iron Horse Blvd, (plenty of parking, and supplies avail from nearby shops) and ride into Mass untill we run out of trail. Round trip is about 37 miles to date. During Spring and Summer months there are porta potties, at the nearby Hop Meadow park, (The park also sports a tire pump), and at various rest stops along the trail. Once you leave the backs of Simsbury shops behind (you actually ride through Monrovia plant Nursery), you're riding past old tobacco fields, other farmland and parks. Red Riding Hood's basket cafe is a convenient, bike friendly lunch stop right on the trail 12th mile mark. with my inevitable pauses to check out the flora and fauna along the trail, imakes a very pleasant 3 - 3.5 hour ride.
Recently $500,000 was approved for the trail through Plainville & Southington with a route to connect to CTfastrak in New Britain.
Substantial parts of both routes will be on the road requiring special measures to insure safe passage for riders. Planning the Plainville/Southington section is the first step in completing the only unplanned section of Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Connecticut.
I'm also from Naugatuck wanting to commute into New Haven. Still training to get up all the hills in Hamden and Naugatuck I figured by June I'll be good to go. A little leary about biking alone through some sections of the trail what's everybody's opinion on this?
I ride this section frequently. Usually 3 days a week both ways and a bike commuter route from Naugatuck to New Haven across from the green. Just a few tips to deal with the riffraff you see. Make sure you keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings. If they see you being aware, you will be safer than riding head down oblivious. I will catch up with lone riders as sort of a escort, and my ride gear is similar to what NHPD wear on bikes. That helps. Last year I saw a bike cop two outs three days in the town sections of the trail. also just hammer down through here, nothing to see so no reason to take your time. I have never had a issue, but I do carry concealed daily, and this is the one area I wouldn't be surprised if I had to use it. Three year been doing this and never had a issue though. If you see me on a black Trek Hybrid dressed in blue and black, say hi...you can go the way I am if it makes you feels safe.
Except for the sections in Plainville and around the Westfield/Southampton line, all other sections are in planning, design or construction.
The trail currently goes to E Silver St, Westfield. Planning on the section in Southampton North of the active railroad is in planning. The section from the Westfield River to the abandoned railroad will be on the road.
Here are routes from NH to Noho:
I biked the northern part of this trail many times. The MA section is kind of dull, although there's a nice coffee shop in Southwick, MA - Red Riding Hood's. The Simsbury portion is nice and there are a lot of stores around for food, water, etc. The Farmington section is beautiful. I want to complete the trail into New Haven but it breaks off in Farmington. I've tried to find the info on the website but can't get concrete directions. Has anyone done the ride from Farmington to New Haven? If so, please help. Thanks, Zoe
Also, if anyone is interested in a group ride (before it gets too cold, please email email@example.com
You are looking for the Farmington river trail not the canal trail, they are two related, but separate trails.
Start at the parking lot near the corner of new Britian Ave and Red Oak Hill Rd and follow the trail along the river. there is a small on road bit near Arch Street, follow that road and you will see a truss bridge and that will put you into collinsville.
Anyone done this ride? Did it once with friends, but cannot figure it out on the maps... any advice will be appreciated. Thanks.
Unfortunately, parts of the New Haven trail have become a magnet that attracts holligans intent on harrassing riders. My suggestion is to ride in large enough groups to dissuade trouble, with each rider carrying a metal baton in place of an air pump. Solo riders, men or women should avoid this section. Understand the risks of riding this section and prepare yourself to avoid confrontation. It takes just one bad individual intent on causing bodily harm to escalate things. I'm looking for an alternate road ride around West Haven to reach Long Island sound.
Your comment saying New Haven is not the safest place to ride, but if you are a guy and mind your own business you will be okay, is just not true. You need to review the older comments on this web page and review police reports. There have been incidents where men, minding there own business, have been struck with 2 x 4s and knocked off their bikes. You take a huge risk using the New Haven section of this trail. North of New Haven is safe and beautiful.
Read my review right below yours. I'd recommend the Westfield route (the northern terminus of the trail right now) on down through Farmington - it's safe and beautiful. Of course I'm biased because I live in this area, but I've cycled almost the entire trail and that part is my favorite.
Good luck on your ride!
Hi,looking for riders to run the various rail trails in Ct and MA.We run unusual bikes but all are welcome for a more leisurly 10 to 12 mph and 20 to 25 miles runs sometimes bumping up the milage to 30+.We always stop for some eats and drinks and enjoy our rides for a "no competition"get together.Come join us you'll be glad you did!!Our only requirements are a dependable bike,you be physically fit and no winers.
Call Gary 203 757-7800 home
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a question, I'm taking my 13 year old son here for the first time and would like to know the best part of this trail to take him to, start on? We are trying to plan out a 50 mile ride round trip for a scouting badge. Thank you.
I made a goal of cycling the entire finished trail this summer - in sections. I almost finished today, and the reason why I did't is below. My review is in sections from Westfield on down!
This is a beautiful trail that has everything you'd want in a rural ride - secluded areas in the woods, wide open spaces, bridges, farms, old depot buildings, you name it. Plus there's the added thrill of doing a little "interstate travel" on two wheels!
A nice trail - well kept up - but not as interesting as the Westfield-Granby part. Downright dull in parts. The crossing over the Farmington River is nice. The trail is well traveled so watch out for traffic.
Too short but lots to see. I loved seeing all the old warehouses and factories. Lots of urban, but not too much blight. I felt safe on this part of the trail even though it's much more urban than the northern parts of the trail. There are LOTS of places where you have to cross active roadways which can get tedious.
The top half of this stretch is nice with some hills to get your heart pumping a little more. I think part of it is near Sleeping Giant so it's scenic.
The bottom half, from southern Hamden to New Haven, is downright terrifying. It goes through a high-poverty, high-crime area. Everything is in disrepair and areas smell strongly of garbage. Gang graffiti is plentiful, and I saw virtually no other cyclists or walkers - just people milling around in the neighborhoods. As a woman riding alone I got way too spooked and turned around around Ivy Street and booked it out of there as fast as I could. Apparently I was lucky as there is more than one report on this site of people being robbed or even attacked.
I'm going to put my goal of completing the entire trail on hold until I can get a group to ride the last few miles with me.
Other than the spots in the tail that can't be finished, or not yet. There is plenty of rail trail. Friendly people, scenic views, Awesome. You have to check it out!
Rode this trail all the way from the trailhead in Farmington to Westfield, a total of 29 miles. The only section that you need to be concerned about is around 5-6 miles when you get to Avon, the path goes onto streets for about a mile. You really need to be careful because it is not marked very well, it even goes through an office building parking lot. After that there is a small stretch in Simsbury that takes you on roads but is not difficult to follow. The FCHT ends at the CT/MA border (about 22 miles) but continues as the Southwick Greenway. The Southwick runs about 6 miles and continues as the Columbia Greenway, which is only about a mile long. Overall a great path, very flat and much smoother than the Farmington River path. There are a lot of benches along the way and a great view in the first mile as you go over the Farmington River. There are even a couple restaurants along the path that have outdoor picnic tables!
I have ridden this trail many times. There are a lot of walkers, joggers, bikers and even some skaters on this path. I also rode the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island recently and i thought the way they handle their traffic flow is much better than the paths in CT. In RI walkers and joggers are on the left and bikers are on the right. This way you dont startle walkers and joggers as you approach them from behind because they are on the other side of the path. When walkers and joggers are approaching you from the other direction they can see you coming and the bikers just go around them. It seemed to work much better this way and be safer as well. If you are worried about safety as you head towards New Haven on this path a good turnaround point would be when you see the Home Depot. After that point it starts to get a bit sketchy. The street intersections in New Haven seem to come every hundred yards. Overall this is a great 14 mile path!
I work 6 days a week with only Saturday as my day off. What a glorious sunny day was September 15th! I decided to see if the New Haven section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail had been completed. I travelled from Longmeadow, Mass' most southern town, down to Connecticut's most southern city. I hadn't been there since 2003, when only a small 1/2-mile stretch was done. I got down on the railpath at that time and saw where the New Haven-Northampton Railroad met the New York-Boston Railroad, but was afraid to go through that tunnel, fearing rats! Now I was seeing the planned trail all complete, and it looked very good! I was pleased with the oblisks put on each brick column that designated each street crossing. What a nice job! I concur with other reviewers descriptions of that neighborhood, the Newhallville section, but I grew up in East Orange, N.J., right outside Newark, so I felt right at home there. The beginning of the trail that will transgress 80 miles eventually has been very nicely done!
I have ridden the Hillhouse Ave New Haven CT to Skiff St Hamden CT part of FCHT a few times and found it to be interesting and safe. A couple of common sense pointers; ride in daylight and with someone else or in a group. The only downside I found to this part of the trail is the constant start and stops due to the numerous street crossings Enjoy
Have done this trail many times, the section from Cheshire to New Haven. Usually just go 7.5 miles and turn around. Today went about as far into new Haven as I felt safe doing - sorry to have to say it, but when the smokes and beers come out on the trail, It's time to pull a U-ee. Did get to the Southington section, which contrary to the description here does not connect to the Cheshire trailhead. The good news is that the on-road connection is just 5 miles on mostly (very) secondary roads. From the Cornwall St. lot, take Willow St north (it's right there at the intersection next to the crosswalk). Willow St ends on Rt 68 - take a left onto 68. Take 68 west and take a right on Peck Lane. Stay on Peck (it technically becomes Canal St just before the trail lot) and the southern parking lot will be on your right. The Southington section is 4 miles for an 8-mile round trip. Dead flat, wide and root-free, very well managed crossings, and plenty of parking.
Haven't actually ridden this trail, but stopped by and looked at it the other day in Cheshire. The overview should mention that there's a 10mph speed limit on the trail, at least on the sections I saw in Cheshire.
I biked the Farmington Greenway Trail today. I had difficulty finding Mill St (even with my GPS) and the start of the trail. I finally ended up on Canal Street past Meridan Waterbury Rd and found parking for the start of the trail on the left. Another way to get to the beginning of the trail is on Rt 10 in Cheshire turn left on West Johnson Ave and right on Canal Street. The trail and parking will be on your right. Nice bike ride on a well maintained paved trail. Bike over a few bridges covering streams, past some industry with some graffiti, but nice murals as well. Pass by some residential areas, and see families biking and walking. I was continually impressed with how well the trail was maintained. I would bike this trail again.
This is one great Trail, it has almost everything. It has mile markers, a great canopy, Park Benches, a few picnic tables and except for two out of the three small detours in the trail it is flat. The first detour is in Avon and the signage is very good. There are a few grades and a couple street crossing that are a little tricky. The second detour in Simsbury is also well marked and a couple of grades. The third detour in Ganby has one tricky street crossing and no grades to speak of. I rode from Meadow Rd in Farmington to Southwick Ma. and back. The high point of my ride was the old Train Station in Granby Ct. It now houses a Contractor. In Granby you pass a very large Nursery that goes on for ever. The elevation at Meadow Rd is 169 ft and at the Ma. line it is 295 ft that is in about 24 miles. If you get to the Ma. line make sure you ride another mile and a half, you will come to a great little Restaurant Called Red Riding Hoods Basket. Great Coffee and Baked Goods. I rode an old Mt Bike with a Town & Country tire but I should have done this on a Road Bike as the pavement is in very good shape and where there are some problems there is paint marks to let you know. The title of the Trail is a little miss leading as I did not see any old Canal. To me it is an old Rail Road right of way. In closing this is a very family friendly trail. If you look at the map of this trail it has a number of places to park.
I've biked this trail from Rt 20 to the Mass Line and from Rt 10 down to Simsbury. I love taking the camera, taking my time and take a bunch of snapshots. This trail is great for that. There are a couple of places to get snacks along the way, which are a nice place to stop. O.
This portion of the trail is unsafe to walk. I hope the TrailLink staff do not disapprove this comment for posting, as it is important for people to be aware of the unsafe areas, as much as the beautiful areas. I have walked or biked this trail from the Hamden Shopping Plaza north for many many years and have always enjoyed it greatly. This is my first experience walking south from the Plaza to New Haven, and I have to say, I was scared, even though it was Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. I walked too far on this trail, as far as Basset St. but came back on the main road, Dixwell Ave. As you approach New Haven, you begin to see people hanging around the trail, smoking, drinking something, yelling comments at bikers. There are poles with big red buttons that say "Press if you need help". There are many isolated areas with no one, but you, on the trail (odd for a beautiful Sunday afternoon). Woman should not be walking on this trail by themselves, ever.
Visiting from Scotland for 3 months. Bought a bike and had great day on the trail. It is all open not as previous reviews have suggested partly closed and the only hassle is the road crossings. It is all well paved, lots of shade and not too busy. Enough places to stop for a drink or food. I loved it. Paved bike trails that follow train lines or canals are great but you have to accept that the scenary will not always be the best. The bike track is very flat and smooth and ideal for people like me who have a road bike. I'll be doing it again soon. One of the best things I have discovered about New Haven so far. Not easy to find the start though. Needs better signposting.
This is a great paved trail. I usually ride it from Cheshire south to New Haven. There are nice areas to stop for a break if you want with nice park benches. It is 95% flat with a few hills in the area of Hamden. There are many bike friendly bars and places to stop for a bite to eat along the way. The businesses are very well marked from the trail some with special back doors to get in. The trail can be a little busy on the weekends. Parking at the trail head in Cheshire has a large parking area.
This is by far my favorite bike trail in Connecticut. It's definitely the longest, the scenery is gorgeous, it's safer than riding the road, and it's pretty level for most of the trail. I've rode the entire trail from the start in New Haven to the end in Westfield, Massachusetts. My only complaint is that it isn't entirely finished; mainly a small chunk in Cheshire and all of Plainville. You'll have to ride on the road in these sections. I hope that they develop them soon. Plans are currently underway to extend the beginning in New Haven from Hillhouse Avenue all the way to Long Island Sound. I can't wait!!
I rode the trail on my bicycle from New Haven to Chesire and then continued on the road to do the Southington portion of the trail. Overall, the trail is relatively flat. It was a warm day so the shade in the Hamden/Chesire portions was very nice. The New Haven portion is tougher with all of the street crossings and I would suggest being careful at the crossings since some drivers ignore the crosswalk signs. It took me approximately 3 hours to the 38 miles from New Haven to end of the Southington portion. Finding the start of the trail in New Haven on the Yale campus is tough. I would recommend this ride for people.
This trail links Connecticut's cultural capital of New Haven with the historic working class neighborhood of Newhallville, former world HQ of the Winchester Repeating Arms factory and the locus of a lot of key American labor and civil rights history launched with the great migration. Beyond New Haven, the trail moves north into big box store territory, sylvan glades preserved for drinking water, and finally into woodlands, rolling fields and suburban style residences. It is perhaps unique among rail-trails in that it so explicitly connects a vibrant inner city, a premier university, and suburban mall and residential development. New Haven is well on the way to obtaining the necessary state approvals to build the remaining section from Yale down to the Long Island Sound. Yale is building two new residential colleges adjacent to the trail just north of the current starting point, so please contact the Farmington Canal Rail-to-Trail Association to get the latest on possible trail closures through that area and where you should go to get on it if you want to go north. Go the website http://www.farmingtoncanalgreenway.org to contact someone via email who will answer you within 24 hours most of the time.
I love to run along this trail. I can run from Canton to Farmington on flat, safe trails however it would be wonderful if along the way there could be a porta potty. I understand that would require increased maintenance but I have seen them along other trail ways. Also, it is wonderful when people pick up after the dogs however I have seen more and more "poop" bags along the trails. Why would someone go to all the trouble to pick it up, just to leave it on the ground in the bag!!!! It would be better off left to decompose on it's own!!
This tunnel in Hamden is now officially open. There is still access to the trail from both sides of the street. I hope that everyone who was inconvenienced by the detours required by the construction returns to enjoy a six-mile stretch of the trail through the center of Hamden that is completely traffic-free - all streets crossing above or below the trail.
Drove from Westport Ct hoping to bike the southern end of the trail after thinking it existed from this web site..(I didn't read far enough!) There is no sign for any trail where it is supposed to be. I asked someone at Yale about the trail and learned it has been closed completely for months. I would confirm that the northern route is open before planning a ride.
I rode this trail a few weeks ago with my brother. We started in the middle, in Hamden, and rode to New Haven first. I had ridden this path earlier and I was curious to see whether the trail had extended beyond Yale yet. There are frequent road crossings at the New Haven end through diverse neighborhoods, with police emergency kiosks periodically. Be cautious and look both ways as drivers are not expecting you and probably will not slow down or stop for you.
We were also stopped by a gate, even though the trail beyond appeared to be paved and ready to go. We headed back and somewhere around Skiff street in Hamden, they were doing construction for a paved underpass, whereas previously we had to cross the street at a light. This section is likely done by now and very welcome (as there will no longer be this busy road crossing).
The trail generally parallels route 10, with infrequent road crossing until the end at Cornwall Street in Cheshire. Overall the trail is well maintained, and frequently used by walkers, joggers, road bikes, and skaters. End to end it's probably about 14 miles. I look forward to the trail continuing northward, connecting with the rest of the East Coast Greenway.
we biked from cheschire to New Haven. There is still a section in Hamden that is 'closed'. Well there were closed signs but the trail wasn't blocked so we, like others, carried on. We made it all the way to New Haven. The end section at Yale was closed so we didn't make it to the very end point. All the open sections are paved and well suited for inline skating. The description of this trail makes it seem like we couldn't skate it. Coming from New Haven some of the trail is with the backs of buildings, but I enjoyed it. The area is poorer, and quite a number of road crossings, that was the most hassle.
I drove down to the New Haven yesterday to ride the southern portion. After paying $5 for parking and a 1.5 hour drive, I got to ride only 5 miles of trail. There is a huge closure at Dixwell road. I brought my special needs daughter to ride it and she doesnt ride on roads. So our ride ended there at the closure. Prior to the closure I give the trail one star for being well marked and in good condition. Other than that it has many many road crossings, little to no shade, very unscenic with backs of warehouses and industrial area as our views. Very few users but I can see why. Not worth a drive to New Haven. I cannot review beyond 5 miles from Yale as that is where our ride ended.
I ride the portion from Southwick to Farmington often. The only portion off the trail is a small portion in Avon where you follow TM signs on roads for a few miles. Then back on the trail again. Heavily wooded making for lots of shade. In good condition. Lots of enroute parking and eateries. Still a secret to most. You will see heav use within a mile or so of parking. But further beyond you will encounter few people. Making for a nice non stop smooth ride. Be careful of the crossing of route 20 in Granby. Cars past by fast. Few stop. Take your time crossing to be safe.
North of Granby are woods and swamps. Look out for small animals on the trail. And enjoy the scenic ride.
There is currently a detour of about a mile in Hamden, from the Dixwell Ave. ramp to the Connolly Pkwy. ramp, due to the installation of a tunnel for the trail under Skiff Street. Trail users will have to follow Dixwell. When the work is done in October, there will be a stretch of over 6 miles in Hamden, from West Woods Rd. all the way to Morse St., completely free of street-level crossings, all traffic going over or under the trail (except for a couple very little used industrial roads).
You can look here to see the miles left in each town. The miles in Northampton are a little off as all are done.
I'm planning on doing a century ride from Southwick to the Yale campus and then back to Southwick. I've been training up for this since last year as my last big ride was from Southwick to Tim Horton's Ice cream in Plainville then back to Southwick.
My question, how long before you can link up with the trail again from that point in Plainville? Also are there many opportunities to make stops along the middle/ more southern stretches of this trail? ie: Meriden, Hampden.
This trail is beautiful Southwick to Farmington ! Looking forward to making it to the southern parts! !
A little more information about the improvements in this section. The southern terminus of the trail is now the Meriden-Waterbury turnpike or Rt.322. You can reach this by going west off Rt.10 and taking a left on Canal St. after the underpass. A real nice touch in the improvements is a crushed stone path for runners on the edge of the asphalt.
There have been some recent improvements in parking and this trail section now is about 4 miles long. It goes south now to the Cheshire town line.
I hear the next section will connect south to the Cheshire section.
The construction is completed and trail reopened (not sure exactly when). The trail is moved closer to the subway plaza and hill is smoothed a bit. The weird detour by the glass place to the sidewalk in front of Peoples bank is still there however. I was hoping this would be fixed as it is I almost got run into by an over zealous rider yesterday. All in all it was a great ride from Cheshire to New Haven, beautiful weather leaves falling, sunlight streaming through the canopy of trees over the trail.
On this Trial Page it shows end of the trail is in across the state line in Mass. However riders this is not the end of the Road. Check out the Southwick Trail on TrialLink.com pages, you'll find a great ride up to Westfield Mass.
I my wife and I have ridden this trail in many section. we have completed from Avon Ct. to the trails present ends at the Westfield Mass town line. In the past we have ridden the short southington section then the from Cheshier down to hamdem. Last weekend we road the unionville sction 2.0 mile down to where it meets with the Farmington River trail. Yesterday from the same starting pont in Unionville north to Avon. This part of the trail was unique to me as it is the only portion that I can remember seeing the crossing streets named .
Again All in All the Farmington Valley Rail Trail/ Framington Canal Trail /Farmington Valley Greenway/ Southwick Trail have been great rides
The trail crossing at West Woods Rd will be closed from 9/27 to 10/5. Signs will be posted indicating the closure. The area will be closed in order to realign the West Woods / Whitney Ave intersection . The town of Hamden has declined to mark an alternate route for trail users. Please plan on detouring along Whitney between West Woods/Mt. Carmel (the road to Quinnipiac University) and Sherman Ave.
Well my wife and I took the plunge and went all the way to Yale University, New Heaven from Cheshire. I was skepticle about doing it because of the warnings on this site, but after doing it this weekend, I would like to say it has changed considerbly. It is now ALL bike trail and there are emergency phones located every 1/4 mile or so once you exit the Hamden area going towards New Heaven. We went early saturday morning and had a great time. I could tell the questionable neighborhood that "Fractured Rider" talked about but there where plenty of riders and we didn't see anybody from these neigborhoods giving anybody any trouble. This trail is fenced off and there aren't any streets that you must use. We even saw a police car parked at one of the crossings. I was happy to complete this stetch of trail and would ride it again. There are Yale Students starting to ride on it so you won't be alone. I would not recommend this as an evening ride just to be safe.
My husband and I loved the change of pace (from hill riding in CT) to nice flat shaded areas. We rode from Cheshire to right after getting to Hamden (about 12 miles). Because of what we had read and heard, it wasn't worth the risk of running into the juveniles who are attacking riders. It would be nice if this part of the trail could be patrolled. Would have loved to have made it all the way to New Haven. On the return trip we stopped at Sergio's for a quick slice of Pizza. There are picnic tables right on the trail so no need to stray too far. Next we will be trying the Farmington leg.
I have been enjoying the Cheshire-Hamden stretch of this trail for many years. On very nice sunny days you need to watch out for little kids on bikes and even Big Wheels and Razor scooters - it seems that parents don't teach their kids to ride single file and they don't really pay attention to their own kids - I have had a few near misses when little kids panic and abruptly stop mid path.
Aside from those hazards, the trail is mostly flat with a few hills near the Hamden end which may be a challenge for new riders. Some interesting spots include the areas before and after Lock 12 where the stones lining the sides of the old canal are still visible, the section that briefly runs parallel to the Merritt parkway and the intersection with Brooksvale park. This park on the Cheshire hamden line is a pleasant place to stop for a break, look at the horses, goats, bunnies and chickens in their pens, or explore the trails by foot or mountain bike. I have seen a fox along the path, as well as swans in a marked nesting area in Cheshire.
The parking area on Cornwall Ave can get busy, but there is an overflow lot across the street with plenty of room. I suppose you could park at the elementary school a block away if it is real busy.
At the time of this writing, the first half mile from Cornwall south is in need of some paving - there is a bump in the asphalt every 50 feet or so and is annoying on a road bike.
You could also take a detour in hamden and explore the Quinippiac University campus, about a 1/4 mile away - the main quad has some interesting architecture. And across the street from there is Sleeping Giant State Park - many hiking trails, picnic tables and a water spigot.
I agree with the other review that the stretch from Hamden to New Haven is interesting but not worth the risk. Once you hit New Haven, you are basically in the projects for a mile and what looks like a rough neighborhood. There are a dozen side streets to cross and I found that local drivers did not stop at crosswalks. It is somewhat confusing why the city would spend the money to revitalize the rail trail yet not address the dilapidated surroundings. Once you emerge from this section, you are on the outskirts of the Yale campus - you could ride another mile to the New Haven Green, but I chose to turn back. The Hamden to New Haven section also lacks anywhere to stop should you need a bathroom - I chained my bike to a signpost and went to the Hamden Stop and Shop.
Overall, the Cheshire to Hamden stretch is very pleasant. As of this writing, the Plantsville to Cheshire stretch is under construction, so it will be nice one day soon to go Southington to Hamden, about 15 miles end to end.
Two weeks ago I was attacked on the Farmington Canal bike trail south of Hamden(2 miles) by two juveniles using a large chunck of wood and landed a horrific blow across my face. I stayed upright and got away immediately. Called 911, gave my report and went to the emergency room for x rays. 45 minutes after the attack on me, the police received another report of the same kind of attack in the same area of the trail. Two kids were caught and arrested. Kids are hanging out on the trail and present a major risk to anyone using the trail south of Hamden. Hamden cops acknowledged that kids retreat to the trail after committing crimes because cop cars can't go there. Stay away from the trail from Hamden to New Haven. You're safer competing against traffic on Dixwell. Multiple fractures later, I resolved to never use the trail between Hamden and New Haven. The neighborhoods are dangerous.
Plainville has been working very hard on different routes to work away from the live rails. Sunday, June 13th, there are 4 different routes being tested to see which will work best for the merge to the rest of the trails. Pretty soon Southington and Farmington will be joining so that you can go from the beautiful Cheshire route to Farmington without having to get in a car to continue your trek up to MA border.
It was a beautiful day on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. My husband and I thought we would go on a “long” bike ride. We have been biking for three years now and thought we would take it to the next level. We started at the shops in Avon and rode to Southwick Ma. along the FCHT. We were pleasantly surprised at the improvements made since we were there last year. The Ma .end was very pretty and nicely landscaped as well as improvements along Iron Horse Blvd. in Simsbury. We visited The Red Basket Restaurant along the trail in Southwick and I had the best raspberry sorbet ice cream cone. Of course, we judge a trail by the availability of good ice cream.
The next few miles past the restaurant were unremarkable and sadly there was a pickup truck sized pile of trash at the very end of the trail by the bridge underpass. How they got it there, I have no idea.
Anyway, we had a great day on our 40 mile trip along the FCHT.
As said there is about 3 miles tared up from the state line into southwick done and due to be officially opened on May 3rd. Stage #2 is underconstruction up to the Westfield line and could be open by the fall. Westfield is going to start on stage #1 of three stages in 2011 and it is hoped to be done up to the Westfield river by 2015. there will be a gap from here to Southampton where there is a feasibility study on the rail line to connect with the Manhan in Easthampton. Northampton and Easthampton are working to connect north to the Norwatuck and over to Amherst. This connector could be done this year with the exception of one bridge that is easily to by pass on a short section of side walk. So at the present time you can go to the left at Depot rd. in southwick and pick up Rt.10 & 202 north to Easthampton for a gap of about 15 miles.
To answer Nesher Dad, the trail is complete only in segments. The map on this site is pretty much up to date.
There are gaps in Southington, with one short segment complete, but not connecting north or south.
In Plainville the commercial railroad is still using the corridor. The rail trail is developed only after the railroad gives up the corridor. No sign of that happening in Plainville anytime soon.
From Red Hill Rd in Farmington it is complete to Congamond road in MA. There seems to be construction to the north of Comgamond Rd, but I am not sure of it.
If you look at the Google directions (step no. 8) in New Haven, it says to make a left turn onto the trail which the photo shows to be blocked by a fence and trees. If anyone is familiar with this step and how to deal with it, I would greatly appreciate any advice. Also, can one bike this trail all the way into MA and up to Amherst or is that part still in development?
This is a great trail, all paved so suitable for road bike or mountain bike. Wide enough to handle walkers as well as bikers. Runs behind several shops and the owners have back door entrances set up for path users. Only area for improvement is length, would be nice if the other sections connected.
The final unpaved CT section of this trail from MM 21.6 to the MA State Line at MM 22.0 is no longer unpaved. Also Simsbury has completely repaved the bike trail section of Iron Horse Blvd. Iron Horse was previously paved but had so many cracks that it was not very bike user friendly. That has now been remedied. With these 2 additional trail improvements there is now an approximately 14 mile section of the northern end of the trail that is completely off-road, completely paved, and virtually flat. This section extends from the intersection of Iron Horse Blvd. & Drake Hill Road in Simsbury to the current northern terminus of the paved trail at Point Grove Road in Southwick, MA. This 14 mile stretch also has only 6 road crossings, none of which are particularly busy. As I said before this particlular section of the trail may be the single safest, easiest, and most comfortable continuous stretch of this type length in the entire New England section of the East Coast Greenway.
Complementing the completion of the northernmost section of the trail in Connecticut is the official dedication of a half-mile section of trail in New Haven which links the previous New Haven and Hamden sections to create a continuous off-road paved trail over 14 miles long from the Yale campus to near the center of Cheshire. The new section is in a very urban area but is lined with large trees making it quite attractive. Just be aware that there are 11 street crossings in less than a mile between Morse and Division streets.
It has been mentioned in two of the reviews of the trail that the bridges were dropped to connect the Suffield portion of the trail to the Massachusetts state line. However the trail map has not been updated to show that the actual paved section of the trail extends at least 3 miles further north than what is being currently shown. This section is all newly paved with a yellow center line and now extends to a tunnel that goes under Point Grove Road in Southwick, MA. This is a very nice section that heading north goes past the Congamond Lakes on your right and Edgewood Country Club on your left. A very short detour to your right at Rt.168 in Southwick will give you a great view of the Congamond Lakes. There are no mile markers up yet on any of this new section but my estimate is that the trail now goes 3.5 miles further north beyond the last existing 21.6 mile marker in Suffield. As has been previously noted the section north of the now current Point Grove Road terminus is expected to extend another 6 miles by this time next year.
Just a side note for the over 50 crowd like me. Now that the Simsbury frost heaves have been repaired and the bridges dropped connecting CT & MA, there is an approximate 13.5 mile one way section of this trail that is probably one of the safest and easiest sections of this kind of length in all of New England. If you park in the Simsbury municipal parking lot at the intersection of Iron Horse Boulevard and Wilcox St., pick up the trail on Iron Horse Boulevard and go all the way to the Point Grove Road terminus you can now go a round trip distance of 27 miles on a trail that is 99.8% (soon to be 100%) paved and virtually flat. An added bonus to this section is that with the possible exception of the trail intersection with Rt.20/Turkey Hills Road in Granby, there is very little cross traffic from Iron Horse Boulevard all the way to Point Grove Road, and there is not a single instance where you have to leave the bike path for any road travel.
There is stiil time this Fall to explore this section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail but if you don't get a chance to do it this year I highly recommend putting it on your calendar for the first warm Spring weekend of 2010.
100% of the frost heaves between Mile Marker 13.5 & 14.5 in Simsbury have been patched, and a very bumpy ride is now very nice. Hopefully the patch job will keep the frost heaves in that section away for good.
I used to post semi-regularly on here when it was the older site.
Anyways, I was on the northern tip a day before Fletch6's post and the workers there told me it would be put in place on the 23rd or 24th.
I rode my bike on the side road to the west and the other small bridge that was out, you had to ford the mucky, oily river, only a few feet. There's a great old country store and coffeehouse on the main drag (168), called Red Riding Hood's Basket.
I read the local paper after this trail, the Suffield Observer and there was a small mention of the northern portion. The contract is done by November 30 so they have until then to finish everything before the money runs out. It was about $500,000 or so, 1/2 of what it was a year ago before the recession.
Anyway, a very good piece of news regarding the Southington-to-Cheshire portion. Tony Tranquillo, Town Engineer, today said that the state has approved the trail from Plantsville to Cheshire, the bids are out and due in October, and work is expected to start this year. Completion should be about this time next year.
Today they dropped the two bridges onto the abutments at the Mass. Conn. line and all they have to do is tar this short section. This should be done in about two weeks. I managed to be the first one across on my bike and will be submitting some pictures of the crane dropping them. With the 3 miles north into Southwick done and the stage 2 going up for bid on Oct. 6th it wont be long now.
We are new to biking and every weekend we have tried a different trail in Connecticut. This is by far the best one yet. We started at the trailhead in Cheshire and continued south for roughly 4 miles before we turned around and headed back. The first mile of so is a little bumpy--kind of like the seams in some of the roads. The trail has cracks in it about every 25-30 feet or so, but after that it is smooth. It is very shaded due to the large trees that line both sides. A very enjoyable ride. We will definitely be coming back.
It was a beautiful day on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. We parked at the Tunxis-Meade Park in Farmington. After having a picnic, in the picnic area (complete with bathrooms), we rode out of the park and up the hill to the entrance to the rail trail. This trail is unbelievably smooth and level and very well maintained. At the start there is a pleasant view on a tall bridge crossing the Farmington River. We looked down on birds below, feeding on insects. From there it is a very pretty 5 or 6 miles to the Avon Police Department and Municipal Center. The next few miles are through parking lots and on roads, but well marked. For the next few more miles after that ,to the 315 parking area, it was once again smooth and flat and straight .We drove a total of 20 miles round trip on one of the best days of the season and are looking forward to returning in the fall.
I rode down into Conn. today and found they have started work on the two culverts at the state line. You can as of this date get around one by using the road, but when they are start working on the one closest to the Mass. line this will not be possible until finished. They have however put the second layer of tar down on the first section of the southwick Mass. rail trail and are doing a final landscaping.
Rode the section from Route 315 parking lot all the way to Massachusetts and back today. Total round trip about 24-26 miles. Wonderful job with this trail. Entire route is very flat, with a few long slight upgrades or downgrades but nothing at all difficult. The work on the new Salmon Brook Bridge is terrific. The trail is, for the vast majority, very far from any roads and passes some pretty bogs and a large plant nursery. It is 80% shaded. There is one short section near the 22 mile (going North) marker near the Massachusetts line which is gravel and thus needs to be walked if you have a road bike; also, in this short section there's a small bridge covered with wood planks that needs repair and also must be walked.
The section we rode in Massachusetts looks to be brand new and appears to extend roughly 3 miles into Massachusetts. I understand that this is eventually going to be extended all the way to Northamption.
Please let me emphasize that overall this is one of the prettiest and best maintained trails I've been on. This will be an awesome Fall Foliage ride. Congrats to all.
The Salmon river bridge in Granby is finished and open. This makes the Trail bikeable all the way almost to the Mass. Line and it is dirt for only about 1/2 mile. They have put the first layer of tar into Mass. and except for short sections you can bike on tar all the way to the Oak & Keg in southwick.
The bridge over Putnam Av. is open, and all the signage and landscaping of the new Hamden section is complete. It is an interesting section, with a variety of bridges, numerous access points, and surroundings as pleasant as could be expected in a suburban to urban area.
Unfortunately there is not as much progress to the north. There is some dispute over the right-of-way preventing Cheshire from extending its section north. Southington is working on extending its section south to Cheshire. Between Southington and Farmington, Plainville is starting to work on how to have the trail coexist with its stretch of active freight railroad.
Just to acknowledge that the changes Mcbess mentioned are indeed true. There is construction on the bridge on Prospect St over the trail. You can see the trail already from the bridge over it on Grove St. I knew that the trail continued because, when I made the next left after Starr St, I could already see more completed trail. I'm not even sure why the directions tell you to go all the way up on Newhall - I just rode on Dixwell Av to where the trail continues. Is the "out bridge" over Putnam Av rideable? Or do I still have to ride around it?
Does anyone else know anything about if there is more construction on this trail in the incompleted sections between Cheshire and Southington and between Southington and Farmington? Because I plan on trying this ride again some time in August.
We had a great time on the Farmington Rail Trail today even though we were a little confused by the directions. First we are low level bike riders so this review is for all levels. We read the information on the website and part of it is now out of date. The New Haven section is almost complete. There is only a 6 block section that forces the rider onto city streets AND from the look of things it is being worked on as we speak.
You will laugh at our adventure but it is worth noting. We started at Yale and parked in a lot on a Saturday. We also believe that most of the lots are available on weekends but use your judgment. At the moment there is still some construction on a bridge near the Grove St cemetery so you have to look for the entrance to the trail. We found this section very flat and in nice condition. It goes through an urban landscape with commercial buildings.
At the end of this section you come to Starr Street and the OUTDATED directions posted on this website under “Description” that direct you to turn on to Starr Street make 10 or 15 turns to get to the Hamden section of the trail. Do not follow these directions! Stay on Shelton Ave Ave. and go about 6 blocks to Goodrich St and make a left. Go about 3 blocks and you will see a wonderful entrance to the trail. It is only 9 city blocks not 4 miles. We turned back because Newhall St is one way South and we were riding against the traffic. This is why I am writing to alert folks to the wonderful developments on the new section.
The young man, Barukh Rohde who wrote on April 28, 2009 also documents these changes. I read these but he did not note to disregard the old directions.
Later in the day we ended up and the Hamden section and rode through this section south to Goodrich St and understood our error.
By the time you ride the trail there may be a new section open! Enjoy!
I last wrote on this website three years ago (when I was twelve years old) when my dad and I rode 120 miles (over four days) on the Airline Rail-Trail from New Haven to Massachusetts. We ran into all sorts of problems on that trail. This year, I had heard about this trail, the Farmington Canal Trail, and decided to try to ride it to Southwick, MA, and to bike from there across MA to my grandparents' house.
The trailhead for this trail is very very close to the New Haven train station. It is near the intersection of Grove and Prospect Sts in New Haven. The trail is very nice for maybe a mile to Starr St and Shelton St. Just ride on Shelton to the next street, make a left, make a right on Dixwell Ave, and within a few blocks, you will find the paved trail again. I know, at the moment signs say "trail closed," but that didn't seem to stop people walking on it. Just keep going on the trail. I decided to go around the Putnam Ave bridge that says "bridge out" but I think it may be safe to ride on. From the bridge, the trail is nicely paved (but with an uphill grade that can tire you out by the time you get to Cheshire) until Cornwall Ave in Cheshire. At Cornwall Ave, the trail abruptly ends for a while. I made a right on Cornwall, went up the hill, and made a left on Route 10. A mile into my ride on 10 (which, by the way, is decently flat for a street in the CT hills) and I was hit by a car (I was putting away my cell phone, and I must have strayed out of the shoulder because I felt a large piece of metal hit me, and the next thing I knew it was half an hour later, and I was lying with my head on the curb with a huge headache and my hair all bloody.)
I like this trail, although the grade can tire you out after a while. I hope to try this again, maybe in August. I took several pictures of this trail, and they are all on this website.
For now, goodbye,
March 28th, 2009
Today my husband and I rode our bikes on the Farmington Canal Rail Trail. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful ride. We parked our car at the Quinnipiac Sports Center parking area in Hamden, and rode south seven miles. I wanted to check on the progress of the extension of the trail towards Yale. It was a relatively flat ride with a few gradual grades and the asphalt was extremely smooth and easy to pedal. I heard peepers along the trail for the first time this season along a pretty wooded area by several small ponds. Construction continues at the end of the trail with work progressing on an attractive bridge and several cement sidewalks. When this trail is finished, it promises to be a superior bike ride. We look forward to the day when we can ride from Cheshire (even from Southington) to Yale in New Haven.
I recently spoke at our annual meeting in Avon on the state of the rail-trail system of which the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (FCHT) is the north-south spine and part of the East Coast Greenway. We have had a remarkable 2008, but so have the areas to the north and south. The truth is that we are close to having one of the premier regional multi-use rail-trails in the United States.
The FCHT runs about 84 miles from New Haven to Northampton, MA. To our south, New Haven has completed the design for the final section north to Hamden, with construction starting in the spring of 2009. In Hamden, the final 2.3-mile section to the New Haven border should be done this month, including a new bridge over Putnam Avenue for a continuous off-road route of over 14 miles well into Cheshire. Cheshire is looking for funds to complete their remaining gap in the trail north. In Southington, the town is designing the section from Cheshire to the paved trail in the town center. The rail corridor north to Plainville was recently abandoned and can finally go into development. Local advocates and the Town of Plainville are working on both an on and off-road route for the trail. Negotiations continue with Pan Am Railways on the still active rail line to create final trail routes in the existing right-of-way.
From Farmington, the trail is paved for 21 continuous miles with a soon to be finished break in East Granby and a small gap in Suffield. Farmington and Avon are complete. In Simsbury, the piece of the trail that currently runs on sidewalks from the Hop Brook Bridge to Drake Hill Road and then to Iron Horse Blvd will be replaced by an easement for the trail and construction will take place in 2009. 5.57 miles in East Granby and Granby were paved last fall and finished this year. After much delay, construction of the Salmon Brook Bridge has finally begun and should be completed by December with the help of a $70,000 grant from our organization. To the north, progress has been slow in Suffield due to DOT’s requirement that the existing bridges over two small brooks be replaced rather than refurbished, doubling the cost. DOT recently released more funds, although the town still does not have authorization to re-bid the project at the new “improved” budget of $660,000 for their .37 miles of trail to the Massachusetts border.
In Massachusetts, the trail has been completed 3 miles north from the state line in Southwick. The 3.2-mile Phase II is designed and construction is pending the installation of a gas main under the right-of-way. Phase III will follow. In Westfield, one of the few elevated trails over a community in New England has been designed and is awaiting funding. Farther north, in a town known for resistance to the trail, a new group, Friends of the Southampton Greenway now exists. Even better, the town has recognized the trail by placing it in their new open space plan. Massachusetts has earmarked funds for the purchase of the right-of-way, and the railroad is willing to hold the land until the town is ready to move on the project. The first 4.2 mile section of the Manhan Trail in Easthampton is complete and a portion of it will become part of the FCHT. Finally, in Northampton, the connector between the Norwottuck Trail in the northeast to the Manhan Trail in the south is being constructed right through town. The connection with the FCHT is in design, and will include a section of rail-with-trail.
The majority of the FCHT is in completion due to the tireless work of local advocates, area towns and like-minded agencies.
R. Bruce Donald, President, Farmington Valley Trails Council
More than 6 years after the last section of the trail in Hamden was completed, as far south as Connolly Parkway, there is finally some progress on the trail from that point south to the New Haven line. The entire route has been cleared and graded, with preparations made for a bridge over Putnam Avenue. With New Haven ready to work on its short section south of Hamden, by next year there should be a continuous paved trail of over 15 miles from the Yale campus to near the center of Cheshire.
Granby has been busy closing the gaps to the mass. line and by the time summer is here it could be finished. there will be one gap where the Salmon river bridge is and it can be detoured around without much trouble. they just put in a new bridge and have done a lot of paving work. the loop around the nursery is finished and needs land scapeing, and with southwick poised to work on the first section in Mass. this makes a great ride.
"I rerode this trail multiple trails since my review and knowledge landed me a writing stint of this and other trails in Cynthia Mascott's updated version of New England Rail Trails Guidebook 2007 (updated from 2001).
Anyway, according to the Planning Department of the City of New Haven, the New Haven section will be finished by late summer next year. Currently, just past the last tunnel that was cleared is a temporary art show of long boats, made out of bricks and other materials, for about 30 or so boats for maybe 200 feet. It's still there and you can follow it to the parking garage just south of it.
The trail will continue 0.5 miles south through another 2 tunnels and will end at that tunnel. It will NOT go under Orange and State and go to the rails, however, they will be bringing the trail up to street level and having it connect onroad and on existing trails to the CT Vision Trail and Long Wharf Trails which will also connect to the Savin Rock bikeway in West Haven.
Past Science Park and the 2 recent 0.5 trails, is one more 0.5-mile section to the Hamden border. The funding is in place and it will be done by next summer.
The same is also true for the Hamden section. The funding is in place and the last 2.5 miles through Dixwell will finish by next summer. There's lots of debris and material to be removed. This will be the hardest part."
"The person who posted the pics later on down this page hit the nails on their heads. Just like that.
I must say that this 2-mile section of trail was quite enjoyable and is the exception, meaning that the trail made me want to see what was in this center of Plantsville Village, not the rest of the trail.
The trail parallels Main Street in Southington and starts at Kane Street and North Main. A ballast running path like most of the trail follows shortly at Kane and Curtiss Streets with benches and a parking area and 10 bicycle racks. When you come along to the Center Street area, this is where it gets interesting.
This little old bustling village is still intact and although some factories are abandoned, they are in great shape structurally. In this area are at least 25-30 factories and only about 5% are not in use or given adaptive reuse as another life. Most from the side look abandoned but it turns out to be a business park on the other end and mostly restaurants and nice bars. Center Street leads from Summer Street, the trail and to Queen Street. It consists of a village of industry mixed with small apartments and quaint stores that's very pedestrianized, with small promenade streets. The crosswalks are brickwork with lots of benches, lightposts and bike racks. I saw it on an evening weekday, so I can imagine what it's like when it's teeming with people.
Back on the trail, past some other factories, you go over a small bridge where there looks to be a small depot on the right. There's a bumper near the river and a siding and going around to the front it's 3 or 4 companies in this weird annex of buildings, like an unsymmetric array of barns. There's a parking lot near here with spots for 17 cars and 8 more bike racks.
The trail ends at West Main Street and Summer Street. The right-of-way ends here but across the road in the weeds, just an inch to the left of the tracks is a nice gazebo. Before the track ends, there's a nice restaurant/bar on the left.
There were 32 bike racks in total on this 2-mile stretch of trail."
"Right across from the ""Head"" of Sleeping Giant and across from the Golf Course and just north of Andale, (the Mexican restaurant) is what looks to be a permanent detour. At this point going south on the trail, it becomes a paved sidewalk that goes from the woods, down to street level in front of a plaza and eateries. It used to continue straight and then go back up, but at the corner of Whitney Avenue and West Woods is a large wooden sign resting against the pole that says, ""Canal Line ->"" in bright white spray paint (arrow to the right). The old sidewalk is now a paved walk and then crosses over behind the eateries and becomes the trail again. You can see the old section of it at the intersection with the new parts. I'm guessing the reason is new development since the old parcel there next to the eatery has backhoes and lots of dirt.
Also at the southern section, the street before you hit the Stop and Shop terminus, there used to be a factory that was abandoned and spray painted by the locals. It's now demolished and you can see the debris piled there. The trail goes around it and to road level. "
The last 2.3 miles are scheduled to be finished in late 2007 or early 2008.
"In the recent East Coast Greenway Alliance e-bulletin, some great news is finally coming our way.
1) Yale to Build more ECG in New Haven - In a recent agreement between Yale University and the City of New Haven, Yale agreed to build trail along the right-of-way through the Yale campus that will be part of the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway and also part of the ECG. They are also providing the 20% match to the SAFE-TEA funds earmarked for completing the trail in New Haven.
2) New Haven and Hamden to Close Gap - The cities of Hamden and New Haven report they are on schedule to close the remaining 3.6-mile gap between them by Fall 2007. The gap sections are in Newhallville, New Haven and south of Connolly Parkway to the New Haven line in Hamden. The closed gap will complete 14.2 miles of continuous trail on the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway between Hamden and Cheshire. When complete, the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway will be a continuous 80-mile path from New Haven to Northampton, MA. The ECG will use 40 miles of the path, from New Haven to Simsbury. (Newhallville will have lots of street crossings - if you've ridden here, you know.)
3) Simsbury portion of trail is officially open. See that trail on here."
"I'm posting this from the e-bulletin of the East Coast Greenway Alliance
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail - Simsbury Section Officially Open
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 18th celebrated the completion of the 1.7-mile trail that closed a gap in what is now 15 miles of continuously paved trail. Towns to the north of the trail plan to close the remaining gaps in 2007. This trail is part of the 25-mile Farmington Valley Greenway and the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway that will stretch 80 miles from New Haven, CT to Northhampton, MA. (The ECG portion will use about half of the trail, from Simsbury to New Haven)."
"From East Coast Greenway Alliance
Rail Trails Get Their Own TV Show in CT-- and maybe beyond.
Simsbury Community Television (SCTV) in Simsbury CT. has begun airing an innovative new program called Trail Rated. It is a weekly half-hour show about the Rails to Trails movement in the U.S. Initially, the show will focus on the Farmington Canal Rail-Trail, highlighting interesting people involved, things to see and do along the corridor and looking at the difficulties in developing an interstate trail system in New England, an area without a lot of natural focus on regional projects.
Trail Rated is a half hour show that will be available to all public access stations in New England. To obtain Trail Rated DVDs for your local cable access channel or to offer up story ideas, contact the hose, Steve Mitchell, at (860) 550-0350.
Excerpted from: Northeast Greenway Solutions E-Newsletter. 8/9/2006. "
"In the September 2006 edition of the New Haven Business Times, (New Haven, Yale Propose Agreement for Civic Improvements), it was announced that Yale will provide New Haven $10,250,000
for various upgrades INCLUDING ""complete the greenway on the historic Farmington Canal Line from the campus to the Audobon District"". It will also repair the distressed Prospect and Temple Street bridges over the Farmington Canal.
Work should begin this fall once the money is in place.
Here's the problem. The trail ends near the new English Dept building under one tunnel, two streets from Audobon. This means they will clear the trees and debris for 2 more tunnels! Great news, but not really. It ends at Hillhouse Avenue. They should complete is under two more streets (Orange and State), under the parking garage, etc. and have it go under State and come out at the current Amtrak/State Street Station where it's been proposed.
I guess funding is always a problem. It will take a little while I guess.
(Technically after the new additions are finished, you can follow the ROW a few more streets down to Bassett Street. There are some grassy and wooded areas, a stretch with lots of glass with double rails in place, etc. Then it becomes very overgrown, but you can follow it closely and do some rough riding through neighborhoods until you hit Stop and Shop where it starts. There is a lot of debris still by the industrial park.)"
"It seems that there is some confusion between this trail and the Farmington River Trail to the West. This trail is along Rt. 202 going from Avon up to Granby and north into Mass. It really starts in New Haven and heads north to Northampton, Mass. and is called various names along the way. From about Planville to Granby it is the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. It has many unfinished sections and will be a great recreational resource when all are finished. Some of the confusion in the Avon Simsbury area comes from the Farmington River and its flow to the Conn. River. It heads south from its start and then goes back north almost at the Plainville line, where it goes thru a cut in the Metacomet ridge at Tariffville. I rode the Simsbury section yesterday north and south from the middle where the best parking is at the Jct. of rt.202 and Rt.187. To the north for about 2 1/2 miles the trail is overgrown and not well kept asphalt. Lots of old leaves and sand to about 1/4 mile of dirt near the Granby line. There are two sections north of here into Mass. that are finished, one of which is part sand and dirt that are at the present detours around unfinished sections.
To the south it is perfect with occasional toilets and in some places double wide with asphalt for those that want it and a double dirt path. The detour to the south of this section is to the left and not on Rt.202 which is narrow and is more dangerous bike travel. "
This trail has given my sister and me many special memories. we love the scenery and the beautiful bridges. We can't wait until it is extended so we can take our journey further!
"Rode this section a few days ago. Last month I was there and it was orange fenced in with construction being done. The other day, it's been opened. From Science Park, it stretches about 3/4 mile with at least 3 street crossings. At each crossing are two stone columns (one on either end of the trail) and a crew was there fitting one in the ground. There are 2 blue emergency police phones as well. Progress is slow but steady."
"This was our first time on the FCHT and found the riding overall very easy going. The surface is wide and smooth pavement, allowing room for people traveling both directions.
We parked at the Brickyard Rd. entrance and headed left to the end and then turned right where we met up with the Farmington River Trail about 100 feet away.
We have a 6 year old who had no trouble riding along, and there are a lot of benches and resting places if needed, especially on the beautifully designed bridge over the Farmington River.
Overall, a great place to ride, but there were many people out today. I imagine it would even be busier in the summer."
"A new section has just opened in New Haven, from the former terminus at Prospect Place south to Hillhouse Avenue. Although it is only a sixth of a mile long, it is worth checking out if you happen to be in the area. It goes diagonally under the intersection of Trumbull and Prospect streets, and right by a newly constructed Yale engineering building. The connection to Hillhouse is by a ramp leading up to street level from the below-grade trail, which is fenced off underneath the street.
There is also some progress at the north end of the New Haven section. Some clearing work has been done north of the end of the paved trail at Munson St., and construction of another half-mile to Shelton Ave. is supposed to start this month."
"Several weeks ago, I started at the Unionville depot /Route 177 trailhead and, connecting to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, I road 12 miles all the way to the current terminus in Simsbury at Route 10/Sand Hill Rd. I can't wait for the rest of the trail to be completed all the way to Simsbury! Hats off to the trail section maintainers, it's truly a lovely greenway."
We enjoyed about a 20 mile down and back ride yesterday.
8-22-05. This will be great if it gets extended to NH. Enjoyed the weather and the restored lock. Lots of people enjoying all kinds of activities for a week day.
"I was in New Haven today and rode that 1/2 mile section of trail. I rode off the side streets of the trail and there is no signage saying there's a trail nearby. There is some overgrowth of weeds where little paved paths extend to the street near the Grove Street Cemetery and it's a little dangerous but nothing too bad.
An update on the tunnels and construction of the new Yale building on Temple Street. The path is cleared until the Grove Street garage quite well. The only thing that's changed is there's a boarded up entrance to the first tunnel for the construction. The foreman told me the construction is ahead of schedule and the trail will be completed through (and adjacent to the building) by September 2005! After the Grove Street garage, the trail is still overgrown."
I found these photos at a great Web site for different sections of Southington.
I ran into some people from Southington while doing the Larkin Bridle Trail last week. They told me the town of Southington has hit a snag north of the northernmost section of trail where a working railroad siding/spur is active. The owner said he does not want to turn the rail into a trail but the town is negotiating to keep the rail active and make it a rail-with-trail.
A great trail going north through Farmington into Simsbury. The Farmington River bridge is beautiful. These trails are one the best things CT has done in years! Sunset rides are great for the family.
"Last year, the Southwest Regional Council of Governments approved at least $10 million for the completion of the Greenway from the Hamden/New Haven line all the way through to Long Island Sound.
From Hamden to the new stretch at Science Park built in 2001 it's all abandoned industries who piled their junk. There is a pedestrian bridge out as well.
Science Park has a 1/2 mile section that's paved with great signage and art sculptures from the Arts and Ideas Festival, every year on the trail. When the trail ends, you can keep going because this is where it goes under New Haven through the tunnels.
In the last few months, the brush has been cleared away and this section of about 500+ feet is looking good.
There's a new biomed building being built at the middle of this portion and the canal runs through and under the property and street. The billboard on the front of the building states they are working on the building and the greenway. You can access it at http://www.eng.yale.edu/project"
"It's coming along wonderfully. It's a wonderful addition to our town. As a serious amateur photographer, I'm finding it a wonderful place to take photos. I have an ever growing gallery dedicated to the Southington section of the trail. Please see www.sapphirestudios.net/gallery/railstotrails."
"As of late, the next portion of this trail has been built in Southington for one mile. The southern end starts at West Main Street and will eventually end at Hart Street. This will hopefully be done by late spring. It is now possible to go from New Haven to Cheshire by Sleeping Giant State Park. There is a 7.5 mile gap from Cheshire's terminus to the new Southington trail. At the end of the 2 miles there is an 8-10 mile gap until it continues into Farmington where the trail continues north to the Massachusetts border with Suffield, CT. I have ridden some of the unpaved trail after the Cheshire section ends and the rails are still in the ground as well as abandoned stone abutments in the river."
"I bicycled the Farmington Linear Canal Linear Park from Cheshire (Cornwall Street) to Hamden (Dixwell Avenue) and found it to be very picturesque, well-maintained, and expertly designed.
There are numerous well marked trailheads and dedicated trail user parking areas all along the trail’s route. Although the trail passes through many undeveloped areas, some of the route travels immediately adjacent to businesses that market services such as food and beverages to the trail’s many users.
As you might expect with any trail traveling through densely populated municipalities, there are numerous street crossings. However, warning signs and marked crosswalks are in place at each one. The asphalt trail surface is narrower than those of many newly constructed multi-use trails; expect congestion on good weather days. An unpaved ballast jogging path is located right next to the asphalt trail surface; it was being used extensively by runners on the day of my visit (it must be easier on the knees).
Unfortunately, commercial development near the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Hamden has encroached right on top of the former railroad and canal right-of-way. So, trail designers were forced to create a rather circuitous loop around a shopping center there. As a result, trail users are faced with battling some rather steep hills in that area. Grades along remaining portions of the trail are negligible.
All in all this trail was well worth my trip from about 2 hours away."
"The thre os us usually ride unpaved trails, so we thought to try this one for a change. After starting on Copper Hill Road (E. Granby), we headed south across Rte 20 and found that the trail ""ends"" at the Granby Station Depot (now a daycare center).
We dared to cross the street into the woods to continue onto the old rail bed, then we rode and walked through the ties and poison ivy, crossed the old trestle, then we came onto Railroad Avenue (the trail is totally overgrown in this area). We came upon Floydville Road and found we could not cross over to continue since the trail is overgrown and occupied by Culbro Tobacco Co.
We ended up road riding in a circle to get back. The point here is that the maps and decriptives at the trail boards are misleading in some areas. No big deal though. We'll be back to do the northbound leg when then weather gets cooler.
Oh yeah, my hats off to the ""roadies."" I still prefer a dirt trail though. "
"This is the first section of the canal that is in the City of New Haven. I remember it being paved a year or so ago and just recently, extra touches were added.
It's a .5 mile stretch that's paved and starts in the Science Park district at the intersection of Henry and Canal Streets. With your back facing the fence across the street there's a large building undergoing renovation on your left and some houses and on your right are newly built townhouses.
The section has a 2 foot wide gravel trail on the right much as in the Hamden-Cheshire section, for joggers.
There are newly planted plants on the sides with woodchips and little paved trails going to the side streets with bollards indicating the entrance(s).
It does have cross a semi-busy street and the trail passes a playground and basketball court on the right before ending at Canal and Prospect (near Lock Street) at the Grove Street Cemetary.
A welcome new addition is 4 stone pillars, 2 on each side of that intersection on the trail. Each pillar has a circular metal seal declaring it the Farmington Canal Greenway with the year 2001 on it. They weren't there in May so it must be brand new.
It's a nice section and quiet."
"I've ridden this trail many times and even followed the tracks through neighborhoods where it's not completed. Past where the trail ends it goes through a small industrial park and crosses a main road and goes into the woods unpaved and there's still the tracks and trestles there for about 15 miles. This is not recommended riding.
The Hamden section is fun to follow through neighborhoods and track the bed with the old tracks still there. There's a small portion at science park in new haven which stretches towards the grove street cemetary and ends there. New additions include railings, street signs and newly-planted flower beds. At the end is the tunnels which have utility lines underneath.
The trail will eventually hook up (after going underneath the city of New Haven) to the Freedom Trail, which will go parallel to the trains on State Street and beyond.
I rode through a couple of the tunnels and after the second one I couldn't go any further since it was too overgrown. They did do some clearing of the brush, maybe 50% worth.
There are some industrial parts off of Dixwell in Hamden that need major cleanup. There are two old companies who have vacated their premises and there are hundreds of tons of concrete and tree stumps. From then on it's just a neighborhood and then a gun factory. The city of New Haven and the Yale Daily News have been doing updates on the trail and plan to have it finished soon, hopefully within one year."
"I rode this trail on 5/25/03 from the Hamden terminus north up to Cornwall Road (about 11 miles). There are two sections of this trail: Hamden to Cheshire (about 7.2 miles) and Cheshire up to Cornwall Road (another 3 miles or so).
Conditions were excellent throughout - well paved, clean, wide, very shady for the initial 6 miles and then a little bit more open after that. The first mile or 2 from Hamden runs behind a few shopping centers and you can hear the Merritt Parkway, but that ends pretty fast and it becomes very quiet. Nice benches at many points. Many families along - a nice option for young riders. The town of Hamden has a map which covers the Hamden-to-Cheshire section of the trail.
This trail is definitely worth a trip - we had a great afternoon."
This is a great ride through Hamden and Cheshire. I ride it quite often. It's a relatively flat trail. Sometimes the trail is crowded on weekends.
Keep your eyes on young kids whose parents aren't paying attention to them. They have a habit of getting in the way. The roller bladers need to be a bit more considerate and not skate abreast of one another.
Access to the Northernmost section of the trail is off Quarry Road on Rt 10/202 in Granby just below the Massachusetts state line. The
paved trail begins at the Phelps Road bridge in Suffield and runs south to the East Granby town line. Ends in a sand pit.
Section from town line to Copper Hill Road is still rail bed with ties.
East Granby Section:
Paved trail begins at Copper Hill road, runs south accross Rt 20 and ends at Rt189. Parking is available at Copper Hill Road, Rt. 20 and Rt 189.
Paved trail begins at Granby town line. (Unpaved section runs from end of His Lordships Industrial Park Rd.)
Runs south crossing Wollcott Rd, and Rt 315. Parking avialable on Hopmeadow Rd and Rt 315. Runs South along the Farmington River to Ironhorse Blvd, Simsbury. Ends at Drake Hill Rd. Ample parking on Ironhorse Blvd.
Trail begins again at junction of Stratton Brook Rd and Rt 10/202 in Weatogue. Park and Ride lot on Rt. 10/202.
Trail runs South to Avon town line."
"This trail seems like one of a kind in CT, where they are commonplace in other states. This trail is ideal for inline skating. It is shared by pedestrians and bicycles, but, not too crowded. There are several intersections with light automobile traffic. Your best bet at a parking spot is in the lot on Sherman Ave., just west of Whitney Ave. Go to maps.yahoo.com and map the following:
Sherman Ave & Whitney Ave, Hamden, CT 06518"
"This was my first railstrails expereience, and it was great! This trail in particular is very organized -- that is lots of signs, benches, park like settings, fencing, etc. VERY nice!!"
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