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Farmington Valley Greenway Bike Trails

Central Region, CT

Historic, Rails To Trails, Family Cycling, Commuter Trails

Directions
Trail Description

Trail Length: Farmington to Simsbury

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail: 80.5 miles

Farmington River Trail: 18.2 miles loop

Farmington to Simsbury: 9.6 miles

Trail Surface: Asphalt, Asphalt, Cinder, Crushed Stone

Trail Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Caution: Shared use with hikers and in-line skaters.

 

Farmington Valley Greenway Trail Map
This trail map is a geographical representation designed for general reference purposes only.
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Farmington Valley Greenway Trails Overview

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail & Farmington River Trail

The Farmington Canal towpaths and Canal Lines of the former New Haven and Northampton Railroad Co. have become The Farmington Valley Greenway Trail system. The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail runs from New Haven, CT across the state into neighboring Massachusetts (80 miles). It incorporates the Farmington Canal State Park Trail which runs from Suffield to New Haven into it's route. The Farmington River Trail (18 miles) hugs the river shoreline from Farmington to Simsbury.

Using a strategic combination of these two trails, a 28-mile loop ride utilizing the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and the Farmington River Trail is a both a remarkable and breathtaking bike trip along a National Scenic Waterway and officially designated Connecticut Greenways. Today, the Farmington Greenway trails have morphed over time from unpaved, narrow canal towpaths and rough rails to trails into sleek, paved commuter trails and recreational corridors. Despite the significant differences in length, the overall geography is relatively flat – and both have coaligned stories to reveal to those who travel their paths.

You can access either the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail or the Farmington River Trail from the trailhead at Tunxis Meade Park in Farmington (about 2 miles south of the Brickyard trailhead).

Bike Farmington Valley Greenway Trails

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail : Farmington to Simsbury

The following ride features a 9.6 mile uninterrupted section (19.2 miles round-trip) of the multi-use Farmington Valley Canal Heritage Trail that runs from Farmington through Avon to Simsbury, Connecticut. This picturesque trail delights with ocassional riverside views, historic buildings and preserved canal era locks. It is an easy, flat ride and the perfect family cycling day or weekend trip. This stretch of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail was one of the first sections to be paved. Any type of bike is suitable.

If you park at the Brick Yard Trailhead and ride back a mile across Rt.4 to the 400 ft. long, 85 ft. high steel bridge, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Farmington River and town of Farmington. Benches are located at hand-picked scenic spots along the trail to provide optimum "it feels so good to take a break" and awe value. All trail users will enjoy the profusion of spring and summer wildflowers along the route. At mile 3, you can find restrooms at the Thompson Road Trailhead.

At Avon, the trail passes through a 50 ft. long, rounded arch tunnel (under Rt.44) that was built in 1912. Nearby are historic industrial buildings, houses, antique shops, art galleries and restaurants. Visible along the way are historic buildings, canal locks, iron bridges, stone arches and other reminders of earlier days. See Trail Highlights below.

After the tunnel, the trail winds along the river again, eventually passing by several small bogs where the trail crosses into Simsbury. From this point, trail users who wish to continue north on the trail must negotiate a 2 mile stretch of highway.

Farmington River Trail

The Farmington River Trail follows the path of the old “Canal Line” railroad. Access the Farmington River Trail about 100 feet from the Brick Yard Trailhead. It loops to the west off the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway and travels from Farmington through the riverside towns of Unionville, Burlington, Collinsville and Canton before re-connecting with the main trail in Simsbury. Most of the route is now paved. About 3.5 miles are surfaced with stone dust.

The Farmington River Trail hugs the meandering along the river shoreline and provides gorgeous Farmington River views in-between stretches of woodlands. Along this route, you'll travel through the center of a remarkable historic 19th century mill complex with dams and mill ponds.

Before arriving st the junction with the Canal Trail in Simsbury the trail travels over scenic brooks and through adjacent Stratton Brook State Park. The railroad tracks have been replaced to make way for the bike trail which is shaded by white pines.

Trail Highlights and Nearby Points of Interest

Historic : Rails To Trails

Farmington Canal State Park

The Farmington Canal State Park Trail forrms a portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in the towns of Cheshire and Hamden, CT. The developed section of the trail within the state park boundaries runs 5.5 miles south from Cornwall Street in Cheshire to Todd Street in Hamden and includes the historic restored Lock 12, located south of Brooksvale Road in Cheshire.

It is the "best-preserved relic of Connecticut's canal era. Here, a trailside museum featuring Lock 12 is restored and functioning, along with the lock keeper's house. The museum houses tools and implements of the canal era and wares manufactured in Cheshire during that time. The museum is open on a limited basis - usually the first Sunday of every month and by appointment. Call ahead to check on times.

Lock 14 is still recognizable; and while much of the original stonework of the lock remains, the walls have collapsed, and the inside of lock 14 is dry. It's remains can be seen in the ditch next to the paved trail. The lock keeper's house is still standing, Built in 1828, it sits in front of what's left of Lock 14.

Collins Company Factory & Mill Complex

The Farmington River Rail Trail runs through the center of the picturesque former Collins Company Factory and Mill complex which once manufactured axes and related products onsite until 1966. The property consists of 25 historic buildings situated along the east bank of the Farmington River in the Collinsville section of Canton, Connecticut.

Existing buildings date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries and once functioned as mills and warehouses. The Farmington River, which once powered the factory, traverses the site through stone-lined canals and raceways. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It and the Collinsville Historic District are remarkable scenes that would grace any tourist postcard. It's a must do Bikes & Photo-Ops.

Location:10 Depot Street, Collinsville, Canton

Historical Notes

Passing through quiet, scenic and historic central Connecticut, the trail follows a trade route between central Massachusetts and the Long Island Sound first used by Native Americans. It also follows corridor of the defunct The Farmington Canal, also known as the New Haven and Northampton Canal. It was at one time, New England's longest canal. In 1822, it was proposed that a canal be dug for water transportation as a route to bypass the Connecticut River traffic through Hartford. The project began on July 4, 1825 and was completed in 1835.

The waterway stretched 87 miles from New Haven to Northampton, boasting 28 locks and three aqueducts. It was later replaced by the railroad in 1848. The railroad continued to operate until the 1980s, "when the railroad rights-of-way were abandoned". Railroad service was discontinued over most of the canal line and central New England by the late 1980s.

Directions

Directions: Accessible from trailhead parking at the following points:

Farmington: From Rt.4 take Brickyard Rd. north to trailhead.

Avon: At intersection of US44 and Old Farms Rd. turn south to trailhead (Arch Rd.)

Simsbury: Intersection of Rt.10 with Stratton Brook Rd.

More Information

The Farmington Valley Trails Council
Post Office Box 576, Tariffville, CT 06081

The Farmington Canal Rail-to-Trail Association
940 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT 065171

State Park
Connecticut Dept. Of Energy & Environmental Protection - https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP

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