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Monroe Housatonic Rail Trail

Connecticut Rail Trails and Greenways
Coastal Region

Trail Description

Location: Town of Monroe at the Newtown townline to Purdy Hill Rd. in Fairfield County, CT.

Trail Access & Directions:

Exit 11 off I-84: Turn left (west) on Wasserman Way. Turn left (south) onto Rt.25 and drive to Pepper St. Turn left on Pepper St. Parking on left at the intersection with Cutlers Farm Rd. During the summer parking at Great Hollow Lake Park is by membership fee only. Access is free between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Exit 49 off the Merritt Parkway (Rt.15): Take Rt.25 north, turn right onto Purdy Hill Rd. or Pepper St.

Trail Length: 4.25 miles

Trail Surface: Crushed stone

Trail Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Caution: street crossings

Multi-Use Trail: bicycling, mountain biking, running, hiking, cross-country skiing.

 

 

 

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Monroe Housatonic Rail Trail

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.

The Trail:

Monroe, located in upper Fairfield County in southwestern Connecticut is a small, suburban New England town set in the center of a triangle formed by the cities of Danbury to the east, Bridgeport to the South and Hamden to the east. The 4.5 mile Monroe Housatonic Rail Trail almost completely bisects Monroe from north to south. The rail-trail begins at Purdy Hill Rd. and travels north along Doc Silverstone Dr., the paved access road to the 16 acre, Great Hollow Lake in Wolfe Park. This popular local park features a sand beach, picnic areas, swimming pool, playgrounds, athletic fields, tennis courts and hiking trails. Benches overlooking the beach at Great Hollow Lake offer a nice spot to rest, watch people paddling on the lake, and perhaps enjoy a snack on your return trip.

Following the old railbed of the now defunct Housatonic Railroad, the Monroe Housatonic Rail Trail continues north of the park, soon branching off the paved road onto a crushed stone path. The hard-packed surface provides a smooth, easy mountain bike ride through lovely Connecticut woodlands for 4.5 miles to the Newtown town line where official trail maintenance currently ends.

You will encounter several street crossings and a short, on-street detour around a condominium complex that is well marked. Just north of the lake, the trail passes through a deep railroad cut, past open and marshy areas, through forest and over a stone arched bridge (circa 1930). The northern section of the rail trail runs parallel to West Branch Pequonnock River. It's a refreshing ride in the summer and especially beautiful during the fall foliage season.

Arriving at the Newton-Monroe town line, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can continue riding. Its not much of a problem for a mountain bike. All you need are the basic mountain bike skills necessary to handle the narrow and rough spots. You can still see the original tracks of the Housatonic Railroad along the trail here and pick the wild blueberries that grow along the path in mid-summer. You'll eventually emerge from the woods onto old pavement in the Botsford section of Newtown. Straight leads to an active rail line, the road left leads to Swamp Road.

More cycling and mountain biking opportunities can be found on and around the 3.4 mile Trumbull Old Mine Park segment of the Housatonic Rail-Trail located just 2 miles south of Wolfe Park. This section parallels the Pequonnock River for the most part and offers more of a rugged, deeply shaded mountain bike ride. Parking for the Trumbull portion is available at the trailhead lot on Whitney Avenue and on-street parking can be found along Tait Road.

The goal is for these two segments to connect, becoming one leg of an ambitious 18.5 mile multi-use Connecticut Regional Trail System that will eventually stretch from the Water Street Dock in Bridgeport, CT on the Long Island Sound northwards to the Newtown town line. Passing through and linking towns, existing paths, natural areas, county and state parks, the path is intended to provide a safe, continuous route for human-powered outdoor recreation such as bicycling, mountain biking, running, hiking, cross-country skiing and other activities.

 

Note: During the summer a membership fee is required for parking and beach use at Great Hollow Lake. Access is free between Labor Day and Memorial Day. This section of the trail is well maintained with a wide hard packed surface.

 

 

Historical Note:

The trail follows the old railbed of the Housatonic Railroad, first built in 1840 as the Berkshire Railroad linking Bridgeport and New Milford. It was abandoned in 1962. Today the state of Connecticut owns the land, which is part of the Pequonnock River Valley Park.

 

 

For more information:

Director of Parks & Recreation
Frank S. Bent
375 Fan Hill Road
Monroe, CT 06468

Phone: (203) 452-2806 X1011
TTY: 711 (AT&T Relay Services)

 

 

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