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West Hartford Reservoir Trails / Talcott Mountain

Central Region, Connecticut

Urban Legend
Directions & description

Location: West Hartford, 8 miles west of Hartford, CT.

Length/Configuration: Approximately 30+ miles of singletrack, doubletrack trails and dirt/gravel roads. Design your own loop mountain bike ride.

Terrain/Surface: Dirt and gravel woods roads, fast singletrack with occasional obstructions.

Technical Difficulty: Varies from easy on woods roads to challenging single-track.

Elevation Change: Rolling terrain, crusing along ridge, some steep climbs.

Trail Use: Mountain biking, bicycling, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing

Caution: When on paved roads stay in the bike lane. Be courteous to other trail users and respect off-limits areas or trails.

This is a public water supply watershed and use is strictly regulated by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.




Local Resources: Bike shops, bike clubs, adventure travel, bike tours, bike events, trail maps, bike safety, camping, historical places, where to stay and other related sources visit our Resource Hub.

West Hartford Reservoir Trail Map

Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.



From the North and South: Take I-91 South or North to I-84 West and follow the directions below.

From the East and West: Take I-84 to Exit 39 (Route 4). At the end of the ramp take a right at the light onto Route 4 East. At the sixth light (a distance of 2 ½ miles) take a left into the Facility.


General Description:

Located near Hartford, CT the Talcott Mountain Range, a long, precipitous wooded ledge with it's high point at 950 feet, encompasses two State Parks (Penwood State Park and Talcott Mountain State Park) and a 3,000 acre open space area managed by the MDC (Metropolitan District). It's a non-profit municipal corporation chartered by the state of Connecticut. The two state parks offer fantastic hiking opportunities, but if you're looking to go mountain biking, than the the MDC managed West Hartford Reservoir Trail System is where you want to go.

Besides over 30 miles of trails for a myriad of outdoor activities, there are also wheel-chair accessible picnic groves.



The West Hartford Reservoir Trails

The MDC open space / West Hartford Reservoir is a well known and popular mountain biking destination near Hartford, CT. Because of it's proximity to the city, and the natural beauty of Talcott Mountain, we are classifying this area as an MTB Urban Legend.

The trail network is comprised of over 30 miles of double track fire roads, single track trails and paved roads including a paved 3.2-mile trail along the West Hartford reservoir. There's something for everyone. Mountain bike riders of all ability levels from beginners to advanced riders will find that sweet spot to ride. If you don't believe us, just ask the passionate about mountain biking Connecticut NEMBA (see More Information below) members.

Most trails can be accessed from the parking lot. The trails fork / branch off of the asphalt road at various intervals. Just follow the asphalt road and choose your branch. The paved access roads in conjunction with the fire roads in the area immediately surrounding the parking lot are heavily used. These are a good choice for beginners at non-peak times. If you use the paved roads, stay in the bike lane.

Intermediate to advanced level riders will find the more challenging trails in the woods. There are flowy and fast to malicious, hard and technical singletrack. Because some of the trails deeper in the woods are secluded it is a good idea to pick up a trail map at the MDC's West Hartford Reservoir administration building from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm weekdays.


Suggested Ride: 8.6 mile counterclockwise loop around the reservoirs. From the parking lot head onto a paved well-marked path used by by both pedestrians and bicyclists. At around .25 miles you'll pass through a yellow gate and begin the climb up to the dam at the south end of Reservoir #3.

There's plenty of variety; tough steep climbs, drops, technical singletrack with occasional obstructions, wide doubletrack trails and some gravel, dirt, and paved roads that wind through beautiful dense woods, open areas and along ridges. Just enough to keep intermediate to advanced riders interested. Now and then you will be rewarded with pretty reservoir views.



Note: Times change. Once upon a time we had Penwood State Park listed as a mountain biking destination. It is now listed as a hiking and other "passive use" park. Because we think it's still a relevant write-up, and because Penwood was donated to the state by Curtis H. Veeder, the inventor of the first "CYCLOMETER", we are updating it and leaving it as an information resource for hiking and other things you might want to do and see while you are on Talcott Mountain.





For more information:

Rules and regulations, maps, directions, event schedules:

The Metropolitan District Talcott Mountain Reservoir Area (MDC)

MDC Website: West Hartford Reservoir

Mountain Bike Club Website: Connecticut NEMBA (New England Mountain Bike Association)




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