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The Pequonnock River Trail—portions of which are also known as the Housatonic Railway Rails to Trails, Monroe Housatonic Railbed Trail and Pequonnock Valley Greenway—is a developing system stretching from the urban hub of Bridgeport to the rural woodlands at the Newtown–Monroe town line. Five disconnected segments of the trail are currently open, with the gaps targeted for elimination in the near future.
The trail begins at the Bridgeport Transportation Center in downtown Bridgeport and extends north to North Avenue (US 1), closely paralleling Housatonic Avenue for its entire route. The paved sidepath was built in 2001 on the site of the Housatonic Railroad's former Berkshire Spur, an elevated line that once served a handful of industrial customers to the north.
A short but difficult-to-traverse gap separates the Berkshire Spur stretch of the Pequonnock River Trail from a newer portion farther north. That stretch begins at the residential corner of Crown Street and Glenwood Avenue and extends north along the edge of the adjacent Beardsley Zoo and Beardsley Park. Both are popular: the former is the only zoo in Connecticut, while the latter was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and offers numerous playing fields among its rolling acres.
North of the park, the trail passes under State Route 8 and Old Town Road and crosses the Pequonnock River. From here, the trail runs immediately adjacent to Quarry Road to a dead-end south of Merritt Parkway (SR 15). Plans call for the continuation of the trail north via tunnels under Merritt Parkway's on- and off-ramps, as well as the reuse of a former railroad bridge still standing over the highway. Construction is set to begin in 2016; for now, trail users must turn around to head back to Bridgeport.
North of Merritt Parkway, the shortest stretch of the Pequonnock River Trail links neighborhoods west of SR 25 with Twin Brooks Park in Trumbull. The scenic park features ponds, fields of wildflowers and hiking trails on its more than 80 acres.
The next section of the Pequonnock River Trail begins on Tait Road in Trumbull. (Trail users coming from Twin Brooks Park can reach the Tait Road trailhead via a short jaunt on Manor Drive, Gregory Place, Laurel Street, Daniels Farm Road and Church Hill Road.) Following its namesake river for more than 3 miles, the trail offers a shady respite from suburban Trumbull. Rapids and distinctive rock outcrops add interest.
While the southern three stretches of the Pequonnock River Trail are entirely asphalt-surfaced, the Trumbull section begins paved but transitions to smooth stone dust where it passes through the Pequonnock River Valley. Nearly the entire route follows a former Housatonic Railroad corridor; however, because SR 25 crosses the original railroad right-of-way, there is a short hill to climb in Parlor Rock Park (an early 20th-century amusement area) to access the wooden bridge under the highway.
Continuing northwest, the trail passes through Old Mine Park, paralleling the park entry road. Use caution when crossing the busy Monroe Turnpike (SR 111). Shortly after, the trail climbs, temporarily leaving the former rail corridor to avoid marshland. This segment ends on Maple Drive in Monroe, shortly after the low-stress crossing of Victoria Drive.
To continue on the final—and oldest—trail segment, follow Maple Drive north to Purdy Hill Road. Turn right and go a short distance; the trail continues on the left via the entrance to Great Hollow Lake in William E. Wolfe Park. Largely forested, this segment of the trail runs for more than 4 miles through the popular park and beyond to the Newtown border. Visiting trail users gravitate around the park, which centers on Great Hollow Lake's attractive sand beach and swimming area, restrooms and picnic tables. Non-motorized boating is permitted on the 16-acre lake, and a paved pedestrian-only walking path circles its shoreline.
The trail's crushed stone surface is generally compact enough even for wheelchair use through Monroe. Like the stretches through Trumbull and downtown Bridgeport, this section of the Pequonnock River Trail runs on a former rail corridor: watch for traces of the Housatonic Railroad, one of New England’s first rail lines, throughout your journey. The most notable remnant is a stone-arch bridge included on Connecticut's State Register of Historic Places. Also note the drill holes amid cuts blasted through solid rock for the rail corridor.
The rail-trail crosses area roads several times and includes a short on-road detour at the stone-arch bridge near the trail's midpoint. You'll veer through a residential cul-de-sac then turn left and follow Pepper Street for 0.25 mile before rejoining the trail. At the 4-mile mark, you'll cross Pepper Street for the last time. After another 0.25 mile, you'll reach trail's end at a large dirt pile on the Newtown town line.
There are several access points and places to park throughout the length of the Pequonnock River Trail.
In Bridgeport, parking is available at a series of parking garages along Housatonic Avenue (Water Street) near the Bridgeport Transportation Center (payment required). To traverse the longer trail segment in Bridgeport farther north, take advantage of free parking at Beardsley Zoo off Noble Avenue. While the zoo is certainly worth a visit, note that it is only open from 9 am to 4 pm daily.
In Trumbull, parking is available at Twin Brooks Park, which can be reached from White Plains Road (SR 127) via Brock Street. To park near the old town hall, take SR 25 to Exit 9 and turn south on Daniels Farm Road. At the light, take a right on SR 127, followed by an immediate right on Tait Road (not Taits Mill Road) to the unsigned, small parking area beside the old town hall (now called the Helen Plumb Building). The trailhead lies 50 yards down the road on the left.
Farther north, the Whitney Avenue trailhead offers a larger parking area, but only town residents and state residents with fishing licenses may purchase the required permit. Similarly, only permitted town residents can park at Trumbull's Old Mine Park; visitors may park on neighboring streets. To reach the park, take SR 25 to SR 111; turn right (north) on SR 111 and take the first right turn into the park. The signed trailhead is near the main parking area.
In Monroe, parking is available at William E. Wolfe Park. To reach the trailhead, take SR 25 to Old Newtown Road, and travel north. Turn right on Purdy Hill Road, then left again on Doc Silverstone Drive into the park. The trailhead is off the left side of the road just south of the parking lot. There is a day-use parking fee. You can also park off Cutler's Farm Road near Pepper Street and farther northwest off Pepper Street.
Work has begun to connect the Bridgeport section of the trail which ends at the north end of Quarry Road, over the Merrit Parkway to Rocky Hill Road in Trumbull. Progress can be seen from the ramps connecting RT-15 to RT25.
Unfortunately our ride on this trail was cut short due to the weather, combined with having to ride on the road. We started in Bridgeport near Glenwood Park. There was parking on the street near the start of the trail on Crown Rd. I'd suggest skipping the first segment of the trail that "starts" near the Bridgeport Transportation Center. This part is basically a brief road ride through a not so nice section of the city. The ride through Glenwood Park is nice, as it flanks the river. To continue to Twin Brooks Park and the continuation of the trail, you have to go left on Route 127 (White Plains Rd.). You can access Route 127 to the right, past a metal gate, just after passing remnants of a stone structure. If you bear left after this structure, you'll cross a bridge over the river to a parking lot. We look forward to returning to ride the rest.
My husband and I tried this for the first time. Really nice quiet trail. Just be careful as there are steep drop offs on one side. Lovely and will return!!
I was looking for the Trumbull rail trail but mistakenly clicked parking icon for Quarry road. It led me to the Beardsly park segment. Not good. That trail is maybe 2 miles long...picturesque...but not what I was looking for. It was over in 30 minutes. And it's closed at both ends.
just linked many trails together 18 miles worth
rode from Shelton to the trails did the Housatonic side nice tral
Easy to walk with dogs and mild incline!
It's a very wide trail, easy to ride and family friendly. Clean and with beautiful spots. The lake is spectacular.
I love this place! Been going for years to do my walks. Suddenly, yesterday I was told by the Park Ranger that I can no longer go there or park in the parking lot because I'm not a Trumbull resident! SO BEWARE! That is total nonsense! Even if they do the restrictions, in other towns you can buy a pass or the restrictions end on Labor Day! What's up with that?? The parking lot is NEVER full. It's a huge parking area. The most I've even seen is maybe 20 on a Sunday. The average is 6! THANKS ALOT TRUMBULL! Didn't you know it's nice to share??
We start at Tait Road, and have worked our way to going 10 miles up to the Newtown line, which is a 20 mile bike ride since you have to get back to your car at Tait Road! My husband, daughter and myself try to get there at least 1-2x's per week. You do have to cross quite a few main roads, so be cautious with little ones. Whitney Ave is first at about 2.75 miles in, and can be tough b/c cars coming from your left are coming downhill around a curve and tend to fly. Rt. 111 is 4 miles in and is very busy but we've been lucky thus far with most people stopping even when we don't use the crosswalk signal. Crossing Spring Hill is not a big deal, but once you get out to Maple Dr people fly, and be aware when crossing/riding on Purdy Hill to pick up the Trail in Wolfe Park. You also have to ride directly on Pepper St for a 1/2 mile to pick up the trail again, but there is a little bike path on the road. Once you get back on the trail, it is very wooded and deserted, much less people use this portion of the trail, especially the end of it. And then it just sort of stops. You can see where some people have created a continued trail as it becomes a VERY narrow, single lane bike path that has just been worn down by tires, we went a short distance down this way but it was so overgrown I started to get nervous as we had just seen a large black snake and there was a bear sighting on the trail earlier that morning! Didn't want to run into either of those so far off the beaten path haha. Maybe next time if we don't have kids with us. The flatest/easiest portions of the trail are the beginning btwn Tait Rd & Whitney Ave, and then the few miles through Wolfe Park.
Overall this is an excellent trail and a great workout. We did all run out of water about 3/4's of the way through so next time we will pack bigger bottles or stop and refill in Old Mine Park. If you plan on doing the full 20 miles and are not an accomplished biker, I also recommend eating a good meal at least an hour before you go and/or bring a protein bar or some trail mix to eat while there, as you will work up an appetite!
Virtually flat, scenic, and the family loved it. So glad we tried this.
A pretty trail with just enough hills to keep it interesting. Will definitely be back. Watch out for the section that crosses the highway after Old Mine Park. There is no stoplight, only a button to push for blinking yellow. We had some young punk nearly hit us after ignoring said blinking yellow. Looking forward to doing the Monroe section soon.
Nice, smooth, easy ride even for the youngest of riders. Peaceful forest setting with a nice brook in a few spots.
The trail name is now the Pequonnock River Trail. See:
June 5, 2013 Wednesday
It is a beautiful day today, so I decided to take a couple hours off from work, and walk this trail. I started at the Tait Road entrance. It was easy to find with my GPS. Don't forget, don't turn on Tait's Mill Road, turn on Tait Road. There was a space available in the six car parking lot (free parking) when I arrived early afternoon, but I noticed it was filled with cars, and many after work walkers/bikers parked along the street, by the time I retuned. I walked the trail, but there were plenty of bikers,even though it was hard packed dirt. I have to say, this is one of my favorite trails because it follows the Pequonock River for quite a way. The river is pretty and the sounds of running water, coupled with rock outcrops and wooden bridges made for a nice walk. I imagined that when the leaves peak with color in the fall, this would be a special place to see them. The trail goes through Trumbull Old Mine Park. I just followed the entrance road out of the park, as it is not clear if there is a separate hiking trail that crosses this park. The park is small, pretty, but only residents can park there. Once you get to the underpass for Route 25, the traffic noise becomes loud and the noise continues for much of the rest of the trail. Also, crossing Route 111, is a bit dangerous. There is a blinking light you can press to encourage traffic to stop, but just because the first lane stops, doesn't mean the remaining three lanes will. At the end of this trail, you can continue the Monroe section, which I didn't because I was walking. I would definitely walk or bike this trail again, but only as far as the Route 25 underpass.
I'm fairly new to cycling and was very comfortable on this trail. It's wide and mostly flat, with a small windy section that is paved and includes a few wooden bridges. It's a very beautiful path through the woods along a stream. Crossing 111 was a bit nerve-wracking, but there is a signal there you can push a button for which will turn on flashing yellow lights to warn drivers to slow. And if needed, you can stop in the center of the road between traffic directions. My husband and I were there on a Saturday afternoon in May and it wasn't too crowded. So glad to find this gem! I didn't think bike trails like this existed around this area.
This is a really nice bike trail that is relatively level for its entirety. The trail actually begins in Newtown from it's northern most tip. It's a little bumpy in this area from tree roots and still existing railway tracks, but once you cross into Monroe it's basically a smooth ride all the way to the end of the trail in Trumbull. Although more of the trail is dirt road as opposed to asphalt, I still found it very appropriate for road bikes. I highly recommend this trail for cyclists.
This is a really nice bike trail that is relatively level for its entirety. The trail actually begins in Newtown from it's northern most tip. It's a little bumpy in this area from tree roots and still existing railway tracks, but once you cross into Monroe it's basically a smooth ride all the way to the end of the trail in Trumbull. Although more of the trail is dirt road as opposed to asphalt, I still found it very appropriate for road bikes. I highly recommend this trail for cyclists.
The trail section between the end of Manor Drive and Twin Brooks park has just been paved.
I appreciated the comments under the heading "My Favorite Trail" which were very helpful in my own trip between the Trumbull and Monroe trail. However I would like to correct two items. FIrst, after one passes the Victorinox factory (Swiss Army Knife people), cross the street, take a left over the bridge and the trail resumes on the right. That trail ends on Purdy Hill, and not Purdy Drive. Second, at the end of Purdy Hill turn right at Benedicts Nursery onto Maple Drive, not Maple Hill (Hill and Drive were reversed). Wolfe Park is a quarter mile down on your left. Terrific trail.
I rode this trail and the Trumbull section on May 13, 2011. I started at the northern most trailhead on Pepper St. and rode the short distance into the Newtown section. The Newtown section is very rough, but it is passable. It's only about a quarter of a mile long.
The ride South to Wolfe Park was pleasant and peaceful. A short detour onto Pepper St and then Grant St, which is a dead end, was easy to navigate. The detour is well marked. There's a large parking area at the intersection of Pepper St & Cutler Farm Rd. as well as the small unimproved area where I started from.
After reaching Wolfe Park, I went looking for the Trumbull section which was supposed to be about 2 miles down Route 25, according to Google Maps. After riding to the end of the Park road, I turned west on Purdy Hill Rd and then south on Maple Dr. Just before the sharp turn to the right, I spotted some signs that stated "Bike Trail" Following these signs took me to Victoria Dr. Turn east and go over the small road bridge, then cross the road to follow the bike trail, the Victorinox plant will be on your left. The trail will then cross Spring Hill Rd and you'll enter Spring Hill Park. Ride through this park and you'll come to Monroe Turnpike. Cross this and you'll enter Old Mine Park, which is the northern trailhead for the Trumbull section of the trail.
Though it sounds complicated, it was a fairly easy route to follow to get to the Trumbull section. It sure beat riding with the heavy traffic on Rt 25. Google map did not show the linking trail. I don't know why, because it looks like it's been here for a number of years and the previous reviewer rode on at least part of it.
After that it was an easy ride to Tait St, the southern trailhead. Quiet and peaceful with the sound of the river as your traveling companion. There were more people on this section of the trail, but it wasn't crowded. Parking is available at Spring Hill & Old Mine Parks as well as the southern trailhead at Tait St. Along the way, I saw several places along the river to stop for a break, which I took advantage of for lunch. Then it was a quick ride back to the car on Pepper St. All in all, a really great ride. 8^)
This is my favorite trail for running. It's mostly packed dirt surface and very beautiful running through the woods.
The crossing signal at 111 is not working. Please be careful crossing: the traffic is very fast.
It is possible to get between the Trumbull and Monroe portions. Going North: From Tungsten park continue along Old Mine Road and cross 111 to get to the next trailhead. When the trail splits, keep right to follow the rail trail (well marked). After you pass the Victorinox factory there is a small portion of trail that goes through the woods, then ends on Purdy Drive. Take a right and continue 0.7 miles until the end of the road. Turn right onto Maple Hill, go 0.17 miles and then turn left into Wolfe Park (there are yellow arrows on the road although they are fading). Continue into Wolf Park until you see the next trail head.
I found two facilities with restrooms and water fountains along the trail. The first is about 3.3 miles from the southerly trail head, in Tungsten Mine Park. The second is in Wolfe Park (in the building down the hill from the trailhead, by the swimming area).
I recently started biking after being away from it for several years. I looked on the Internet for some trails close to home and found the Trumbull Rail Trail, which is also known by several other names. The entire trail is about 3.5 miles and is well maintained. The first 2 miles starting at Tait Road is smooth hard-pack and wide enough for several users at the same time. Starting at the Tait Road trail head, the trail is a mild incline for most of the way until Whitney Avenue. Beyond that the trail is paved and continues about another 1 1/2 miles. This is a great trail if you just want to ride without having to think about it.
We've been on this trail a couple of times with our sons (4 and 6), and it is just fantastic. There are only a couple of hills on the trail that the kids cannot ride up. The rest is pretty flat and rideable, since everything is either paved or hard packed. The busy crossing problem has been fixed with an underpass. The path is also wide enough for multiple bikes, hikers, etc. to pass, so that you don't have to worry about your kids running into people or off the trail.
And it's the perfect length. It takes us about an hour to go one way, we stop for lunch at Mine Park, and then ride back.
Can't say enough wonderful things about this trail!
It appears that there are some sort of signal devices about to be unveiled for the treacherous 5 lane crossing of Rt111 north of Old Mine Park. Not sure what sort of relief they'll offer, but I suppose something is better than nothing.
What I don't get is why there's no crossing solution that utilizes the existing Pequonnock River bridge, much in the way the trail does to traverse Rt 25 south of Old Mine Park. One of these days I'll venture down there to see if there's some glaring obstacle that I'm missing.
I just took a ride on the trail from Monroe's Wolfe Park to Trumbulls Indian Ledge Park. After leaving Wolfe Park take a right onto Purdy Hill Rd. Then take your first left onto Maple Dr. South. It is a very short ride on the road until you see the entrance again after the Old Stepny Station on the left hand side where maple curves sharply to the right. The trail continues over a bridge onto a wide gravel paved trail. No longer going thru parking lots the trail has been routed left past L&L Evergreen. You continue a beautiful hard pack gravel then paved trail along the river passing alongside Swiss Army / Victorinox headquarters. You come out at a school bus depot before crossing a road. Look both ways traffic does not stop. The trail now leads you left to Rt. 111 or right to Main St. (Rt.25). Rt. 111 crossing is a 4 lane road with heavy traffic but Trumbull is installing a New traffic signal for bicycle crossing to Old Mine Park. Thank you Trumbull. Once activated this will remove a lot of worry about crossing Rt.111. The trail continues on thru Old Mine Park to Indian Ledge Park. It is a very pleasant ride.
I've been walking along the section from Tait Road to Whitney approximately three times a week since mid-April. I have noticed many wildflowers blooming along the trail. They include: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, trillium (just about done blooming), garlic mustard, celadine, violets, False Solomon's Seal, Small Solomon's Seal, Canadian Mayflower, wild geranium, and some type of honeysuckle.
Take a look as you walk/run/bike the trail and notice the wildflowers.
Today I rode north from the Tait Road Parking area; many spaces and at least one handicapped spot. A very pleasant ride through interesting terrain. Many people were riding, walking dogs or jogging.
The route 111 crossing is not pleasant, but it seems to be easier form south to north. Crossing the road at the school bus depot is somewhat dicey. The trail is graded next to Victorinox (so no riding through any parking lots) and the zebra crossing has been moved so people don't end up in L&L Evergreen. We are not on the original Right of Way at this point but cross a bridge over the West Branch of the Pequannock River which appears original. Again we stray off the ROW but come to the nicely preserved 1850 Stepney Station. A house has been built on the ROW , but I continue on and find William Wolfe Park where I had started a northbound trip a few weeks ago.
So I finished the whole (available) route!
PS Anyone who soldiers on through the woods in Newtown up to the rails; yes, that is a live freight railroad (The NEW Housatonic Railroad) so resist the urge to continue on.
This weekend I rode the Monroe trail south from Great Hollow Lake (Purdy Hill Rd.) to Trumbull Center. It was my first time goign in this direction and we wanted to see the newly completed Trumbull sections. Here's what we discovered...
From Purdy Hill Rd., the trail follows Maple Dr. south, with overgrown single track giving way to a beautiful bridge and some wide unimproved road. Signs indicate crossing the paved Swiss Army office access road and we were greeted by a steep, eroded hill and an improvised set of ramps up and over a jersey barrier. More single track led behind the Vitramon factory and smack dab through the middle of L&L Evergreen. Posted trail signs and all indications are that you should travel this way. DON'T! Unless you are an adult single track rider, this way is un-friendly. L&L has even placed large trees right in the way of the trail in attempt to block access.
Instead, take a left down the paved Swiss Army access road and proceed to the very back of the parking lot. You'll see on the right, past some loose rubble, where the formal Trumbull section begins. Plans are underway to build a path through the property that avoids the parking lot and you can see the construction in progress. Unfortunately, the signs still indicate the old way.
From Trumbull heading north, this is all quite obvious (as you cross Spring Hill Rd. you'll see the new route), although there is no indication as to what to do once you reach the Swiss Army lot. You should continue through the lot, up access road, and look for the trail signs on the right just after the bridge.
The trail was otherwise fantastic - much more interesting than the Monroe section which is mostly straight and flat. The only major issue is the Rt. 111 crossing - 5 lanes of traffic a hundred yards from a major intersection. I would not attempt it on a weekday and it was scary even on Sunday with a 9 year old on his bike and a 4 year old on mine. This crossing needs to be addressed before someone is killed. Hopefully, the state has an appetite for a reasonable solution.
I've been biking the Trumbull section of this trail for a little over a month now, and set out yesterday to find the Monroe section. I first found it by following the directions here, and rode along Route 25 (Main Street) for a bit, then turned off onto Purdy Hill Road and found Wolfe Park. But on the way back, I found the "Bike Trail" signs which led me ride to the Trumbull section.
The trail starts out pretty typical, crushed stone and ballast, wide and level. There's a couple of picnic tables at the start. There's even a couple of park benches along the trail, if you need to rest. The trail seemed to end and dump into a residential area, but by continuing on the road for maybe a quarter of a mile, you can pick up the trail again. This section is a little more rugged and narrow. At one point, it was barely wider than me, but was lined with only little branches, so I had no problem getting through.
I made some nice discoveries on the later part of the trail. Like an abandoned rail line, with the rails and some of the ties still visible, running alongside the trail. A little further down, the trail actually crosses two tracks side by side. People have tried to make it a little easier to cross them by placing little wood ramps, but they're a little worn. But I was able to cross them without trouble. I like a little challenge, so this was one of my favorite parts of the ride. I'll post a picture of the crossing.
At the end of the trail, I found what appears to be a working freight rail line, with a private crossing to an industrial site. I'm also a railfan, so this was a nice find. The now abandoned sidings are also visible.
As I said, I was able to find my way back following the trail signs, and able to avoid busy Route 25. On Maple St., I found the old (1850) Stepney Depot, though the tracks are long gone there. Again, another great find.
Between the two sections, Trumbull and Monroe, I logged almost 25 miles round trip. A really enjoyable ride.
I rediscovered this trail earlier this spring. I found that the construction signs were still up, but the half mile section to Old Mine Park has been completed. It's paved with asphalt and includes two new wooden bridges. Though it's paved, it has a couple of steep sections. I took a novice rider (hadn't been on a bike in years) and she had to walk it up, but most people shouldn't have a problem. I also found where the trail picks up again, after exiting Old Mine Park and crossing Route 111 (Main St.). That too has mostly been improved, with a couple of bridges also. I say mostly, because there is a small section that has yet to be improved at the end. If you follow the "Bike Trail" signs, it seemingly ends in the back parking lot of an evergreen tree farm. However, I discovered yesterday that the trail continues through the trees and continues on. With a short time on the roads, I was actually able to connect up with the Monroe section of the trail, in Wolfe Park. If you're interested in the Monroe section, I'm going to post a review there also.
I've also posted a picture of one of the bridges, as the trail goes under Route 25.
I'm used to a little more rugged riding, but I enjoyed this trail, especially when coupled with the Monroe leg. I logged almost 25 miles round trip.
"from www.trumbull-ct. gov
RAILS TO TRAILS PROJECT UNDERWAY
The long awaited pedestrian/bike trail will begin with clearing of the trail on Thursday, August 23, 2007. Complete Construction Inc. will be clearing the area so as to construct the 10’ wide path along with footbridge, boardwalk, and railing. This work will take place beginning at Whitney Avenue and continue north to the Monroe/Trumbull town line.
In the meantime, the Department of Public Works has just about completed the drainage renovations within the Pequonnock Valley from Tait Road to Whitney Avenue, and will be starting construction of the stone dust path, complete with fencing and some monument restoration.
The Trail will remain open for your continued enjoyment, but for the safety of everyone, the Town asks that people be cautious and take heed to the workmen and the equipment that will be on hand."
We rode the trail between Wolf Park in Monroe and the north end of the unimproved trail in Newtown.
The Monroe portion is wide and well groomed. There is a 0.6 mile detour on Grant Rd. and Pepper St. to get around private property.
Just north of Great Hollow Lake the trail goes through a cut that created a noticeable breeze. On some old maps this cut is named Windy Gap.
The Newtown portion of the trail is much narrower and although unimproved it was flat and clear of debris. Much of this portion runs alongside abandoned rails and the Botsford wye. I imagine this trail could get a little tricky once the foliage season arrives.
I proved that the Newtown section can be navigated by a fat old guy on a hybrid. I only got off the bike once to cross the pair of tracks at the south end of the wye.
"I've written a few times about how the trail starts near Route 25, off Botsford Hill Road and how there's an unofficial trailhead near Wickes Lumber off Swamp Road. Years ago, a friend asked Newtown First Selectman Herb Rosenthal about cleaning the property up to make it a trailhead. (It's a concrete lot with 2 old trailers and lots of debris). You could probably fit 5 cars there. He said it was too expensive and would need federal dollars to clean up contamination of the old company that was there.
An article in the News-Times (Danbury) on February 5, 2007 featured that property in relation to smart development near railroad corridors. It looks like it will see some cleanup and become a parking lot. I emailed Rosenthal to congratulate him and to suggest that a historical kiosk be placed as well. (It mentions the trail is not open in Newtown, that is not true.
Here is the relevant text:
as well as plans for the former Charles Batchelder Co. in Newtown. Batchelder is an abandoned aluminum smelting plant on 31 areas near the town's Monroe border. It closed after a 1983 explosion destroyed part of the building. It is estimated that cleanup of the entire site would cost roughly $1.5 million, not including removal of the abandoned building. It is owned by the Connecticut
Institute for Communities Inc., a nonprofit agency working with Newtown to
return it to use. The property was stuck in bankruptcy court for nearly 20 years. The town is owed about $1.5 million in back taxes it will likely never see. The court is about to release the property for sale to pay creditors, including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Development Authority, and Standard
Oil of Connecticut, among many others...The Batchelder property is also the end of a
rails-to-trails walking path that runs from Newtown into Monroe and Trumbull. The path isn't open in Newtown, because it is surrounded by the Batchelder property. Rosenthal wants to create a public parking lot nearby when the property is cleaned up, so the trail can be used. When the property clears federal Bankruptcy Court, which could happen this month, the federal Housing and Urban Development agency will give the town
$134,000 to begin remediation."
"When you hit the jersey barrier near that supposed housing development, the first barrier isn't there anymore and there's now a paved road. Whatever was supposed to be built there wasn't and instead leads to LL Evergreen's building behind the nursery. The trail starts again behind there. The 2nd jersey barrier is there and beyond is the nursery.
If you go out to the main road, you will pass Tashua golf course on your right. Just after on your left you will see a paved trail perpendicular to the road in front of that new condo complex. This is the trail that runs around the side of the condos like a sidewalk and connects to the newly paved trail section from last year that ends at Route 25 before crossing to Old Mine Park. (The gates were closed at Old Mine Park the other day but you can go around it)."
"I rode the trail again from Botsford to Southern Trumbull yesterday, and there are some nice additions to the trail.
When the trail turns on street near those condos and turns on street as it meets up with Great Hollow Lake, the crosswalks are much better. The yellow arrows showing the route are still very visible, but the crosswalks now have large signs attached to large orange construction bollards.
In the woods along the trail, attached to the trees are these little mailboxes with trail maps.
An unfortunate barrier that I plan to talk to the Monroe Parks and Rec, is the construction site just after the Great Hollow Lake site where a jersey barrier tells you the bike trail is closed due to construction. That was there last year as well and the construction site has not built anything, but the trucks keep moving around. What I advise, since the trail goes for many miles is to carry your bike over it and WALK it 500 feet across to where you can pick it up again. The construction folks had no problem and Parks and Rec should let people know the trail keeps going.
A bit down the way, is a new sprawl/condo complex and on the left, splitting the trail from the condos, the trees are chopped down for a few hundred feet. This part of the trail is paved for about 1/2 mile and wasn't before. The bonus is this is now extended to Route 25 expressway and goes all the way to the guardrail, turning right. This lets you dismount and ride across the road instead of up and over the rail."
"This trail is located on an abandoned railroad embankment that was constructed along the eastern slope of a mountain. Its right-of-way is lined with thick pine trees along most of the route, and during late spring, summer, and early fall, cover is also provided by other forms of foliage. Therefore, very little sunlight makes its way to the trail surface regardless of what season it is.
Surprisingly, the trail’s surface was bone dry on the day of my visit. There were exposed rocks in many spots and some tree roots as well; perhaps that’s why the surface stays dry. The Housatonic Rail Trail in Monroe has a much smoother and softer surface than the trail here does.
There are no street crossings between Tait Road and Whitney Avenue. However, parents with young children should be cautious of the steep downward embankment along the trail’s eastern edge. The trail’s elevation above mean sea level at Whitney Avenue is higher than at Tait road; expect an uphill climb working your way from south to north.
On-street parking is available along Tait Road and there is a dedicated trail user parking lot at Whitney Avenue. For those that enjoy exploring areas off the beaten path, there are several single-track paths branching off from the rail trail; one connects into Old Mine Park, and another provides foot access to the Pequonnock River.
If you enjoy exercising outdoors but can‘t stand the sun, this is definitely the rail trail for you!"
"What sets this trail apart from most unpaved trails is its dry, level, flat, and well maintained trail surface. No rocks, no tree roots, no mud, no gravel, no dips, no bumps; just the smoothest ride you could imagine.
In addition to its perfect trail surface, expect to find adequate trail user parking facilities at several locations along the route. However, parking at the southern trailhead, in Wolfe Park, is restricted to permit holders between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
There are several street crossings along the route, and one short on-street detour as well (due to a condo complex having been constructed on the right-of-way). The street crossings all have warning signs and painted crosswalks, and the on-street route is clearly marked.
Great Hollow Lake provides a nice backdrop at the trail’s southern end, and beautiful foliage can be found almost anywhere on the route.
This is a great trail; well worth a drive from afar to experience at least once, if not twice or more."
"I rode this trail on Sunday. Great weather, very overcast, 75 degrees and a lot of tree cover.
There is no official trailhead but I did find the unofficial trailhead.
To get there, it's about 3.5 miles off of Route 84, Exit 11. When getting off onto Route 34, bear right instead on Berkshire Road which becomes Toddy Hill Road which also becomes Botsford Hill Road. Then take a left on Swamp Road. You will see a railroad trestle before Swamp Road which is the Conrail line that transports boxcars and gravel, etc.
Make a left on Swamp Road. #43 is a house on the right and the access is across the street near the Wickes Lumber Plant.
There is a small access road that travels alongside Conrail and ends at a concrete paved clearing where grass grows through the cracks and there are 2 abandoned tractor trailers. Just past them, the trail ends at a locked fence as it intersects with Conrail. To the right of the trailers, the trail goes off into the woods as the Housatonic Railroad rails appear to the left. (A biker I met approached Newtown's First Selectman about making it the official trailhead and it went nowhere).
This section is about 1.2 miles. The real portion starts just north of Pepper Street and Route 25 (Main Street). The Newtown/Botsford section ends at a dirt mound just as the ""real"" trail starts and there are wooden mileage markers with pics of a bike and a hiker with km/mile coversions.
The trail ends at Pepper Street and there is no signage telling you where to go. Common sense says go right
and you will see the markers and then a right on Grant Street. You are back on the railbed and on your left is the full map of the Housatonic RailTrail and it shows all the detours to take on the trail to the terminus. (They should've put the map before it ended at Pepper Street). If you make a right, there's a wooden fence and if you hop over it, it ends 500 ft down and there's a small drop. Just ahead is a condo complex that the railbed once traversed. That's private property.
After a while the trail spits you out on Doc Silverstone Drive as it's now William E. Wolfe Park. To the right is a beautiful view of hills, and a Great Hollow Lake with a fountain in the middle. It's a 300 acre park with playing fields, a lake, rivers, and miles of hiking only trails with a concession stand, etc. The railbed is the western side of the park and proceeds along Doc Silverstone Drive until it ends at the entrance gate to the park.
You cannot go forward as it's someone's house and business but be sure to look on the pavement for YELLOW ARROWS as they mark the correct route to go and they are very helpful. (It would pay to bring a pen and paper and write down the detours to take as they are only placed at the beginning and the very end at Tait Road in Trumbull).
Make a right out of the park and left on Maple Avenue. You will see the old Monroe Depot on the left where town dumptrucks are stored inside. There is a little red filler pump outside which adds to the old charm. The arrows lead you to signs for the Housatonic Railbed. Go over a wooden bridge and it's woods from here. It will end at a jersey barrier where the sign says you cannot cross the lot during construction and business hours. They are building something and it's a lot of gravel and rock. Fortunately, it was Sunday and I walked it across to the other jersey barrier and sign connecting the path. Then the trail empties at a parking lot of a company and it continues at the end of the lot. Then as you enter the trail, it becomes a large tree lot full of mud and it's trespassing so i walked it through to find the other end. I guess it would be wise to go on the road to the right and back into the lot's lot to access the trail.
From here, the trail finally widens to a larger trail with an open area and ends at the Route 25 expressway entrances. There will be a guardrail in front of you. Route 25 north of here is all local roads and it's an expressway to Bridgeport.
Directly across the road is the entrance to the next connector of the trail, Old Mine Park which is on Old Mine Road.
Please read the next section of this review on this page, under Trumbull, Old Mine Park Trail. "
"If you want to read the previous connector, go to the Monroe (Housatonic Rail-Trail) part and read the review.
Up until here, it's 4.25 miles plus an unofficial 1.2 miles to the northern terminus in Newtown/Botsford off of Swamp Road near the Conrail connector.
The connector starts at Old Mine Road near the Route 25 expressway entrances. Go down the road and there's lovely river on the side (Pequonnock) and fishing as well as historical markers. There is a bathroom to the left up on the hill if you need one. The trail starts at the end after the road ends, then lots of woods which provide a cool respite. You will start to hear the expresway. There will be yellow arrows on the trees guiding you. It will start to go downhill and you will have to dismount because the rocks are huge and treacherous. Walk your bikes under the Route 25 overpasses where a lot of great graffiti resides. At the other end, you will climb to the right and straight up. Then you will make a left. If you make right, there's the railbed ending at a field and a fence. So take the left and it will take you through the woods and end at a road. Cross it and there's a parking lot for the trail. This area is known as Parlor Rock, and apparently there was some sort of amusement park there way way back but i couldn't conceive how or where.
This section is beautiful. River on the left, lots of trails to bike and go to the river's edge which is very clean and stocked with fish. Every once in a while there are small rapids. This section of the trail is about 3 miles and peaceful until it finally ends at Tait Road where there is parking. Just ahead is White Plains Road/CT-127 which will take you to downtown Bridgeport where I caught a Metro North train which was convenient.
There is a map of the whole trail (including the Newtown section) with all the detours, etc. However, facing Tait Road and the lot, there is no official trailhead designating it as a railtrail.
Now you're in Trumbull Center and there are restaurants, gas stations, coffeeshops and a supermarket.
I decided to follow 127 South and I was also following the railbed as close as I could. It was hard but I figured the railbed would still follow the river flow and it did. Just down 127 there's a Texaco on the left and the entrance to Twin Brook Park and a nice wooden bridge access. This park has nice water and a nice bike/ped trail that spans the park. At the end on the left, you will find a small trail in the woods that's the railbed and hard to traverse.
You can follow the trail through some neighborhoods and then it disappears but I believe it crosses the road to the right and goes through Unity Park. Trumbull has a great parks system. You then take the road and go under Route 15 (Merritt Parkway) and enter Unity Park on the right where a trail enters from the left before the tennis courts. It connects to the parking lot and goes parallel to 127.
Just down the road on the right at 119 White Plains Road (127) is a pumping station with a fence blocking access, but you just go around it and this access road still follows the river and goes under Route 15 eventually becoming Beardsley Park in Northern Bridgeport where there are playing fields, lakes, streams, a zoo, etc. It's very beautiful. Who knows where the railbed goes from here as the river empties into a large lake. "
"According to traillink.com, this trail also connects to another trail listed in the database, going through Old Mine Park in Trumbull. 4.25 miles + 3 miles = 7.25 miles. Currently, Newtown (above Monroe) has not developed portions of the trail).
According to the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, the trail is supposed to end in downtown Bridgeport and connect with the Bridgeport Transportation Center making it a grand total of 18.54 miles when completed.
"I talked to the Parks Director about the trail and he was telling me another phase will be starting shortly that will bring the trail from its current endpoint through some private property.
He said people can bike through and there are low-lying branches but it is private but soon will not be. The owner agreed a while ago to give the right-of-way to the Monroe and Trumbull Parks Department for a railtrail but that got stalled since he is suing the town for something unrelated. When that gets settled, the work will get underway in Phase II. They don't know how many miles it will be, but it will at least double it.
The Director said the northern terminus is difficult to get to because it's in the middle of the woods near Pepper Street and Route 25 so he's sending me a street map.
He said Monroe and Trumbull are putting bids in now and have secured some grant money for the building of the trail and are having a hard time building a completed trail under Route 25 (it's still passable). He said as i put in my previous post it will connect to Old Mine Park (officially) and through the Pequonnock Park and end at Tait Road for Phase II.
He said it's possible to follow through to Bridgeport. Also, in the late 1970's when railtrail legislation was going on in D.C., this trail was supposed to go up to Wilton and even to Danbury where that connection brought the railroad up north to Massachusetts."
"I plan to officially ride this trail next week but thought I'd add some information I found today from a mountain biking book for Connecticut.
The trail may officially be 4.5 miles on this site, but it does continue many miles south. It starts at the border of Newtown and Monroe to the north near Hattertown Road and ends just north of Old Mine Park because of an industrial park in between. I presume it does go through the property much like the industrial plant and tracks at the end of the Farmington Valley Trail in Cheshire at the northern terminus.
Anyway, as per the book, it connects to old double tracks in Old Mine Park in Trumbull, an old 1800s tungsten mine and ends abruptly at route 25 but does continue under a bridge and continues to connect to Pequonnock State Forest on a trail known as West Tr. near Whitney Avenue. There is an East Tr. where the Pequonnock River separates the two as they go for quite a few more miles until it reaches Route 127 near the Merritt Parkway (Rt. 15). On a map site such as mapquest one can see that portion as being clear with streets on both sides.
According to the book, this is still the Housatonic Railbed that once traversed from Bridgeport to New Milford. The southern terminus ends at Tait Road.
See this link -- http://homepage.mac.com/housatonic/map.htm -- for a map of the old Housatonic Railroad line."
This is a nice trail. The trail is all unpaved and it is a little rough in a couple spots. There are also ponds in a couple of spots.
Other than that it's a very nice easy ride and it's not very busy either. Enjoy the wild blueberries growing at the trails end at the Newtown line
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