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Larkin State Park Trail

Western Region, CT

Historic, Rails To Trails, Family Cycling, Recreation Areas, Bikes & Beaches, Wildlife Watch & Photo-Ops

Trail Description

Location: Towns of Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oxfod, Southbury. New Haven County.

Trail Length: 10.8 miles

Trail Surface: Cinder, Crushed Stone, Dirt, Gravel

Trail Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Trail Use: bicycling, mountain biking, hiking, xc skiing, horseback riding.

Caution: Mind your trail manners, bring insect repellent, and use caution at road crossings.


Larkin State Bridle Trail Map

Larkin State Park State Park Trail Map
This trail map is a geographical representation designed for general reference purposes only.

Larkin State Park Rails To Trails Overview

The Larkin State Park Rail Trail runs east - west along the 13.4-mile-long Pomperaug River and follows the abandoned railbed of the New Haven Railroad between Kettletown Road in Southbury, CT and Whittemore Glen State Park Scenic Reserve in Waterbury, CT. Mountain bikes are recommended for this ride.

The Larkin State Park Trail is a long, narrow park that travels through an area with a rich cultural history and a variable topography encompassing flat plains along the streams, with a mixture of rolling hills and steep slopes that run roughly north-to-south. It's a delightful mountain bike ride through a mix of deciduous and conifer forest with a dense shrub understory, past small horse farms, open water ponds and wetlands.

The steep hillsides that enclose the trail at times are the most pronounced topographical features with silvery to gray layered Straits schist. Throughout much of the area the hills and valleys have a fairly well developed grain that is largely the result of glacial motion.

The challenges of both rock and swamp had to be met while cutting a clear path for the railroad, as is evident as you travel through the many rock cuts along the trail. Getting past Towantic Swamp / Pond necessitated a piling 500 feet long using 1,000 linear feet of fill.

Viewscapes and the wildife present along the route change seasonally. While Connecticut in general is not a place full of wild animals; you will marvel that now you will see animals and birds that used to be rare: The Suburban Coyote, Wild Turkey, Common Loon, Belted Kingfisher, Scarlet Tanager, Osprey, Frogs and Turtles – Oh My!

Mountain Bike Rails To Trails: Larkin State Park Trail

Some stretches of trail have three feet of rise for every 100 feet of distance. The trail surface varies from packed dirt and cobbles, to loose scree and the original railbed ballast and cinders. Expect to encounter some muddy and sandy sections as well as climb the rocky, uphill approaches to many of the street crossings.

Because this route also crosses many streams: Jeremy Brook, Walnut Hill Brook, Eightmile Brook, Jack's Brook, Little River, the Long Meadow Pond stream outlet and corresponding lowlands on the way to the trail endpoint, the trail may be flooded at times in these areas.

Heading west towards Towantic Hill, the trail climbs gently for awhile. Southford Falls State Park is just south of the trail off Rt.188, where you can find outhouses, picnic areas, a cascading waterfall, covered bridge and hiking trails. The section of trail from Towantic Hill Road east to Long Meadow Pond Road (Griswold Road) may be closed due to private ownership. Trail users must proceed along Towantic Hill Road to Long Meadow Road and then onto the trail again.

Southbury, CT

Trail Blaze / Mileage: 3 miles

From Kettletown Road, Southbury to the Oxford town line the trail surface is dirt. Southbury has been named the best Preserve America community with a history dating back 350 years to Colonial Connecticut. With no less than five fascinating Historic Districts, it's a Historic Rails To Trails stop along your bike ride.

Oxford, CT

Trail Blaze / Mileage: 3.75 miles

The Larkin Bridle Trail passes through the Town’s industrial zone. It's all hills and valleys with very few large level areas. The town’s overall topography consists of upland areas, separated by the lowlands and valleys along the Little River and Eight Mile Brook.

After passing the southern tip of the Waterbury-Oxford airport, you'll pass over a causeway that takes you over the wetlands between Towantic Pond and Long Meadow Pond allowing views of the shorelines. From here the path travels through woodlands and the Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve on the final leg to Kettletown Road in Southbury. which bisects the Whittemore Glen State Park Scenic Reserve and the Hop River Lake Recreation Area.

Note: The section of the trail from Towantic Hill Road east to Long Meadow. Pond Road (Griswold Road) is closed due to private ownership. Trail users must detour along Towantic Hill Road to Long Meadow Road and then onto the trail again. ear the trail midpoint at Long Meadow Road, you'll briefly leave state-owned property for a half-mile, on-road detour along a privately held stretch.

Middlebury, CT

Trail Blaze / Mileage: 2 miles

From Long Meadow Road, Oxford to Shattuck Road, Naugatuck you'll be mountain biking on a natural dirt surface. Middlebury, CT is noted for it's Woodbury and Waterbury Street Railway trolley line built in 1908 and the 4.5-mile Middlebury Greenway which follows sections of the old Trolley route east to west from Waterbury to Woodbury.

Naugatuck, CT

Trail Blaze / Mileage: 0.9 miles

From the Middlebury town line to Route 63, Whittemore Glen State Park, the trail surface has been layered with a stone dust surface. Whittemore Glen State Park is an undeveloped wilderness area opposite Hop Brook Dam on Route 63, and the Naugatuck State Forest.

Trail Highlights and Nearby Points of Interest

Historic Rails To Trails

Southbury, CT

Founded in 1673, Southbury located at the convergence of the Pomperaug River and the Housatonic River is a town with a special constitution. Notable among the Colonies as an agricultural producer, the town supplied General Washington’s army far with far more than it's share of food and supplies.

Southbury has been named as a Preserve America community by the federal government. No mean feat when the town population increased from 2,000 to 20,000 recently when Interstate 84 – an integral part of the American way of life was constructed bewteen the town and the Pomperaug River.

There are no less than five Historic Districts including The Russian Village Historic District Churaevka, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The village was founded in 1925 by two Russian writers, Count Ilya Tolstoy (son of author Leo Tolstoy) and George Grebenstchikoff after fleeing the unrest that led to the Russian Revolution.

Historical Society:

Recreation Areas, Bikes & Beaches

Hop Brook Lake

Hop Brook Lake Recreation Area, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, is located within the towns of Middlebury, Naugatuck and Waterbury, Connecticut. It's a well-kept day use park; of which 536 acres are managed for recreation and for the benefit of forest, wildlife, and water resources. Park Rangers at Hop Brook lake provide a range of interpretive programs upon request.

This is the perfect Bikes & Beaches ending point of your mountain bike ride. Entrance to the park is free of charge. The beach and swimming area are especially popular during the summer months.  Tables and grills are available for picnicking. The multi-use trails here wind through forest. It's easy mountain biking over fairly wide trails with minimal obsructions.

Looking for singletrack?

Bikes & Waterfalls, Bikes & Covered Bridges

Southford Falls State Park

Located on the Oxford-Southbury line, this 169 acre park was the site of the Diamond Match Company at the tuen of the century. A series of Scenic waterfall drops are located at the northwest end of the Park on the Eight Mile River. The waterfall is half man made with a broken dam spilling to the left sending the water cascading over a 10 ft. drop. There are a succession of falls as Eightmile Brook heads downstream dropping about about 50 feet.

At the bottom of the falls a Covered Bridge leads over Eight Mile Brook for a Bikes & Photo-Ops detour. To access the park from the Larkin State Park Trail, head south on Strongtown Rd. toward Walnut Brook Lane.

Location: Southford Falls State Park on Quaker Farms Road, Route 188, Southbury, CT 06488

Historical Notes

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, commonly known as the New Haven Railroad or simply, 'The New Haven', operated in the states of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. When the railroad folded in 1943, Dr. Charles Larkin, a wealthy Middlebury merchant and horse afficianado, purchased a 10 mile stretch of the rail corridor and converted it to a bridle path. He gifted it to the state of Connecticut in 1943.

Today, whether you’re on feet, a mountain bike, horseback or skis, you’ll appreciate the combination of trail style, geography and remarkable history from the beginning of your ride to trails' end.


Major Access Points with parking.

Eastern end: Exit 17 off I-84, south on Rt. 63 for .5 mile. Go about 2 miles turn right into parking area. Trail marked by small sign.

From Rt.18: Exit 16 off I-84, south on Rt.188 (Strongtown Rd.). Go @1.5 miles. Rt.188 crosses trail before intersecting Rt.67. Trail marked by small sign. Limited parking along Rt.188.

Western end: Exit 15 off I-84, south on Rt.67 for .5 mile. Turn left just past the tennis courts (part of Southbury’s Community House Park). Park here, cross Rt.67 and go .4 miles down Jeremy Swamp Rd. to the trailhead.

More Information

Connecticut Dept. Of Energy & Environmental Protection:


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