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The Quinebaug River Trail exists in two segments in northwest Connecticut. The northern section parallels Park Road and Tracy Road for about 2 miles in an industrial section of Putnam with few trail amenities. After a sizable gap, the southern segment of the trail picks up in the town of Killingly. The southern section makes up in charm and scenery what the northern section lacks.
Starting in the town of Killingly, the southern segment of the Quinebaug River Trail heads south for a picturesque journey on a well-maintained riverside pathway through wooded parks and corridors. Parking is available at the intersection of Water Street and Commerce Avenue in downtown Killingly. From here, the route continues south, but be sure to enjoy the views of Fivemile Pond from the bridge spur to the north before proceeding on the main trail south.
After negotiating a series of shared sidewalks and street crossings for 0.5 mile in Killingly, the more appealing character of the trail begins to show. Once you cross Providence Road/US 6, the true off-road experience begins. Take note of the Quinebaug River in the valley below and be ready for a more peaceful trail experience as you leave behind the traffic sounds of town and head closer to the river. As the path veers away from Wauregan Road/CT 12, you pass through a park with ball fields and restrooms.
Continuing south, you’ll experience the sights and sounds of the waterway with the river’s close proximity. You’ll find excellent opportunities to spot riparian wildlife and be able to access a trailside canoe launch. The lush canopy overhead provides shade and dappled sunlight, while ferns and wildflowers flourish below, enhancing the sense of refuge.
It’s clear that this well-used trail is enjoyed as a community asset as demonstrated by the popularity of the trail with local joggers, families out for a stroll, and recreational cyclists looking to get out in nature for the afternoon. Four-legged trail users are welcome too, as Mitchell D. Phaiah Dog Park shares a parking lot and trailhead with the trail near the southern terminus in a residential neighborhood near Quinebaug Lake State Park.
The Quinebaug River Trail offers a rewarding experience for those willing to negotiate the less than inspiring section of on-road riding in Killingly. The most scenic southern portion of the route has very few road crossings and an excellent surface. As the trail leaves town and enters the New England wilderness, take in the ample natural beauty as you journey alongside the river among ferns, mature trees, and wildflower meadows.
Unfortunately, there is no dedicated trail parking for the northern segment of the trail.
To access parking for the southern segment, take I-395 to Exit 37 (or Exit 37B if taking I-395 S) for Providence Road/US 6. Merge onto US 6 W. In 0.6 mile turn right onto Main St./CT 12 and then in 0.3 mile turn left onto Commerce Ave. Parking will be on your left at the intersection of Commerce Ave. and Water St. in downtown Killingly.
Additional parking for the southern section is available south of US 6 at the Killingly Little League fields and on Quinebaug Drive at the Phaih Dog Park.
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