FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL NORTHERN SECTION:
FARMINGTON VALLEY GREENWAY LETTERBOX:
FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL LETTERBOX:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Letterbox Planted: Farmington Valley Greenway Letterbox; August 29, 2001
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Letterbox; June 8, 2003
Last Updated: November 13, 2016
Length: Farmington Canal Heritage Trail; 22 miles
Meadow Road Trail; 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Paved flat rail trail.
To start along the Meadow Road Trail; From I-84, take exit 39 and follow Route 4 east. Turn left off of Route 4 onto Route 10 south. Less then a mile on your right will be Meadow Rd. Go a short distance down Meadow Rd where an unpaved parking lot will be on your right just after crossing over a small river. This is the Conklin Nature Trail parking lot. There are two other parking lots further along this road if you wish to start closer to the start of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.
To start from the New Britain Ave parking lot (Southern end): From I-84, take exit 39 and follow Route 4 east. Turn left off of Route 4 onto Route 10 south. Less then a mile on your right will be Meadow Rd. Follow Meadow Rd to Red Oak Hill Rd to New Britain Ave. Take a right on New Britain Ave and the parking lot will be on your left.
To start from the Brickyard Road parking lot (Southern end); From I-84, take exit 39 and follow Route 4 east. Pass by the junction of Route 10 in Farmington and cross over the Farmington River. After 1.5 miles, take a right on Brickyard Rd and proceed about a mile. On your left will be a parking lot and the trail.
To start from Phelps Road near the CT/MA border (Northern end); From Routes 10 & 202 in Granby, CT, just over the line from MA, take Notch Rd east and immediately turn left onto Quarry Rd. Quarry Rd will travel east, then turn south. Turn left when you come to Phelps Rd. You'll travel underneath the trail and come to a small parking lot on your left.
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a paved multi-use trail that extends from New Haven to the Massachusetts border. It follows the path of the former Farmington Canal and the New Haven & Northampton Railroad. Currently two sections are mostly complete in Connecticut. The Southern Section runs from New Haven to Southington and the Northern Section is complete for 22 miles from Farmington to the Massachusetts border. See; Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Southern Section . In Massachusetts the paved trail continues following the rail bed of the New Haven & Northampton RR along the Southwick Rail Trail & Columbia Greenway Rail Trail in Southwick and Westfield. A gap exists through the towns of Westfield & Southampton before the paved trail continues north through Easthampton and Northampton along the Manhan/New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail . The trail then intersects at the Spoke where the Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck West travels northwest towards Williamsburg and the Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck East which travels east towards Amherst. For more information See; FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL . Part of the EAST COAST GREENWAY .
In 1828, the Farmington Canal opened for excursion boats to take passengers from New Haven to as far as Northampton, Massachusetts. The canal was 86 miles long, 4 feet deep and 36 feet wide. Twenty-eight locks were built in Connecticut to accommodate a 292 foot total drop in elevation along the canal. The canal was never profitable and so by 1848 railroad tracks were being laid along the old canal route. The New Haven & Northampton RR/Canal Line was born, changing ownership over the years until the Boston & Maine Railroad discontinued service along this line. See; NH & NH RR .
The Farmington River Rail Trail is a paved spur trail off the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North which follows the abandoned Central New England Railroad line from Farmington to Simsbury, where it loops back into the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North. This trail is currently divided into two complete sections. The paved southern section runs from Farmington to Canton, while the stone-dust/paved northern section in Simsbury travels through Stratton Brook Park.
The Meadow Road Trail travels alongside Meadow Rd and Red Oak Hill Rd for 1.7 miles and connects to the start of both the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North and Farmington River Trail. Its a good place to start as the first parking lot along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North is not until the Brickyard Road parking lot. There are three parking areas along the Meadow Road Trail, one just 0.4 miles shy of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.
Starting from the Conklin Nature Trail parking lot; The parking lot is next to the Pequabuck River, which flows into the Farmington River. I suggest you take a quick detour along the nature trail to where the rivers meet and check out the house up a small knoll across the river. Fabulous. Next, take another quick detour by Heading Left (East) out of the parking lot along the Meadow Road Trail to where the trail crosses over an old stone arch bridge with views overlooking a marsh. We saw the biggest turtle I've ever seen outside of a zoo. If you were to continue east the trail narrows and ends at Garden St (Route 10).
Heading Right (West) from the parking lot the trail is flat and soon travels along open farmland. At 0.4 miles you come to the Farmington Community Gardens and across the road is a second parking lot next to where they fly radio controlled airplanes. Kids will love this. Meadow Rd veers left as the trail continues alongside Red Oak Hill Rd. After passing by a third parking lot and then the entrance to Tunxis Mead Park at 1.1 miles the trail narrows and travels uphill.
Note; A paved trail travels a 1/4 mile into Tunxis Mead Park along the entrance road.
You'll come to the start of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North after 1.4 miles.
Note; As of November 2016 they are still constructing a new section south from Farmington to Plainville. A gap exists in Plainville before the trail picks up in Southington where you may continue along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Southern Section .
If you continue straight along Red Oak Hill Rd and then turn right at New Britain Ave you can then cross over to the start of the Farmington River Rail Trail South .
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North
From the start of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North in Farmington off Red Oak Hill Road; A map board and the 0 Mile Marker is located here.
Note; As of November 2016 they are currently extending the trail south to Plainville. Heading South; The paved trail follows the old rail bed through a residential corridor before emerging alongside New Britain Ave. When you reach Meadow Rd a cross-walk will take you over to the western side where the trail continues alongside the road. After 0.8 miles the trail heads back into the woods along an industrial corridor. You'll pass by an old wooden Whistle Stop marker on your left. You come to Route 6 after 1.6 miles where they are still building a new bridge (old RR bridge long gone) as of November 2016.
Heading North; There are mileage markers every 0.5 miles along the trail. The trail is flat and straight and well shaded, which is nice on a hot summer day. After 3/4 miles and just before the bridge over the Farmington River look to your right and you'll notice a gravel pullout and a small knoll. This is just before the start of a split rail fence. Facing this knoll, spot a two trunked Birch tree near the base of the knoll and a small Oak tree in the shape of a Y to the right. Next, look between these two trees for a Pine tree that resides on the opposite side of this knoll. Climb over the knoll to the Pine tree and at its base, under some branches and an old iron grill is the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Letterbox. Continuing along the trail you cross a bridge high over the Farmington River. Fantastic views. After 1.1 miles you cross over Route 4 via a rebuilt railroad trestle bridge. To your right spot an old railroad siding that ran to an old brick building. Travel along a berm and down to your right will be a pond. You come to the Brickyard Road parking lot after 1.8 miles where you'll find another map board. An automatic cross-light gets you over Brickyard Rd. Soon, you'll cross over into Avon at 2.4 miles. After you pass through a marsh for Thompson Brook, the Thompson Road parking lot will be on your left at 3.1 miles. Keep a sharp eye out for remnants of the old rail line. I spotted old telephone poles and old Whistle stop markers (a granite post with a large W carved into it). Just after crossing over Scoville Rd at 3.6 miles an old train station will be on your right behind a high fence. This red stone station was built in the 1920ís by the founder of Avon Old Farms School and is used today for faculty housing; hence the fence. Cross Country Club Rd at 4.5 miles and Sandscreen Rd at 5 miles where you'll pass by a lumber yard. The trail then veers off the old rail bed at 5.3 miles next to the Town of Avonís Public Works (parking lot located here). A short 1/4 mile on-road detour follows. There are green "Bike Route" signs leading the way. Pass through the parking lot and turn right down the access road. Cross Arch Rd where you'll pick up a paved trail alongside Security Drive. Here you'll encounter a long slight hill. When you reach Darling Drive the paved trail continues right downhill then left across a stone bridge over Nod Brook and through a tunnel underneath Route 44 where you'll emerge in the rear parking area of the Avon Police and Town Hall at mile 6. You are now on the site of the old Ensign-Bickford Company. These striking brownstone buildings were constructed by the Climax Fuse Company in 1884 and then acquired by Ensign-Bickford in 1907. Safety fuses were manufactured there until 1968. Today the buildings are used by the Town of Avon, a business park and the Farmington Valley Arts Center. As you wind your way through this complex following Climax Heights Rd, you will cross over a small canal (Nod Brook) with old gate locks. The paved trail picks up again straight ahead across Ensign Dr, however, for the Letterbox take a left and proceed down a small paved path, passing by an old stone lantern. To seek your prize, follow this code; 9-13-23-8. Where the black ends and the path to R&C begins, take a compass reading of 276 and head straight for the four "Patient Parking" signs. Starting from the furthest sign to your right, take approximately 17 paces (2 steps = 1 pace) right down Redstone Lane. Off the road to your left should be a Pine tree. Directly behind this tree will be a large Norway Spruce tree (the branches look like they are raining down). Behind this tree, underneath 2 flat rocks, will be the Farmington Valley Greenway Letterbox. Head back to the canal. Continuing along Climax Heights Rd cross over Ensign Drive and head left where the paved trail picks up again next to the Avon Green. There are shaded benches, a Veterans Memorial and a nice gazebo. The trail follows Ensign Dr to Fisher Dr (look up to your left for a nice view of Talcott Mountain and Heublin Tower) and out to Route 10 where a cross light brings you over to the Sperry Park parking lot at 6.9 miles. Map board located here. Next, you'll come to a T in the trail. Head left.
Note; Right takes you past Sperry Park and out to Mt View Ave.
Youíll now following a berm above the Nod Brook Wildlife Management Area. Great views of Talcott Mt. and Heublin Tower. Pass by an Avon/Simsbury town line marker at 7.4 miles. You cross over Route 10 at 8.1 miles (Use Caution, automatic flashing light but high speed traffic). Pass by the River Run parking lot on your left before crossing Latimer Lane at 8.6 miles. Pass by an old wooden Whistle Stop marker on your left. Pass by Weatogue Park on your right before coming to Canal St after 9.4 miles. Head right to a series of cross-lights over Route 10 and Winslow Pl. Check out the bike sculpture. The trail continues along the old rail bed past the Winslow Pl parking lot where you'll find a map board. Cross Second Brook followed by Tamarack Lane at 10 miles. You then veer off the old rail bed at 10.4 miles up to Route 10, bypassing the Ensign-Bickford Munitions Company. The trail now travels alongside Route 10 and the Ensign-Bickford Munitions Company. You cross over Hop Brook, which flows through the Ensign-Bickford compound. Here, the trail travels up a small hill where you'll come to the first of two cross-lights over Routes 10 & 202 at the junction of Routes 10, 167 & 202. Continue straight to the second cross-light near the intersection of Drake Hill Rd at 11.2 miles. To your right is the historic JR Ensign House.
Note; You may access the northern end of the Farmington River Rail Trail North where it travels through Stratton Brook State Park by crossing over Routes 10 & 202 and turning left along the paved trail. The trail then turns right and follows along the northern side of Route 167. See; Farmington River Rail Trail North .
Continuing north along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, follow the trail right down Drake Hill Rd. You will see a bike route sign directing you to a cross-walk over Drake Hill Rd where the trail continues alongside Iron Horse Blvd.
Note; A quick detour of only a few hundred yards, by continuing straight along Drake Hill Rd, will bring you to the Bridge of Flowers. This is a pedestrian bridge (old road bridge) decorated with live flowering plants over the Farmington River. Picnic tables are located here as well.
Continuing north, this section of the trail runs alongside Iron Horse Blvd in Simsbury Center. There are tons of parking lots along this section. This section also has green "period" lamp posts and historical markers explaining the areas railroad history. Pass by a water fountain and you'll come to a signpost that says Helens Way at 11.7 miles. Across the street you will see an old railroad station now converted into a restaurant along with an old red caboose.
Note; For a short side trip you may proceed down Helens Way which consists of a long wooden boardwalk through the marshland of Drake Hill Park.
Just up the trail a bit further is the Rotary Park Playground. Kid heaven. You'll find a Bike Station off the trail here (air, tools...) next to a red bike sculpture. You then pass by the entrance for Simsbury Meadows parking lot. There is also a large amphitheatre here. The trail forks before reaching Route 10. Head right past the little plant island and bench at 12.3 miles. The trail now follows alongside the Simsbury Wildlife Management Area and Farmington River. You get a glimpse of the Farmington River as it bends near the trail. At 13.3 miles you pass by the Hopmeadow Street parking lot before a cross-light takes you over Tarriffville Rd. Next comes a long straightaway across a berm through wetlands. The paved trail then crosses Wolcott Rd at 14.5 miles and travels over Munnisunk Brook with a scenic red barn to your right. Spot Lake Basile through the trees on your left as you come to the end of Lordship Rd at 15 miles. Right takes you to the Simsbury Tri-Town Airport. We saw a Bobcat here in June 2003. Here, the trail detours left off the rail bed, bypassing the humungous Imperial Nurseries and bringing you out to Route 10. Turning right the trail follows Route 10 for a ways and then turns right alongside Floydville Rd. After 16.5 miles the trail turns left back along the old rail bed. The trail travels past the nursery before entering the woods along a high berm. You cross over an old railroad trestle bridge high above Salmon Brook at 17.2 miles. If you look to your right, downstream, you can see Granbrook Park. You pass by the old Granby Railroad Station and then cross over Route 189 at 17.4 miles. Route 189 parking lot located here. After heading back into the woods you'll come to Route 20 and a map board at 18.4 miles. Automated cross-light here. The Newgate Wildlife Management parking lot is located here. You head into deep woods along this ramrod straight trail and after 0.5 miles a Horse Path crosses the trail. After 19.9 miles you cross Copper Hill Road, where you'll find a parking lot. After crossing an old iron rail bridge you travel through Beaverdam Marsh and then through open farm fields. Just before another iron rail bridge over Phelps Rd at 21.6 miles, a spur leads to the Phelps Road parking lot on your right. Map board located here. The paved trail continues north to the Massachusetts border at 22 miles, then continues into Massachusetts as the Southwick Rail Trail . The Southwick Rail Trail then becomes the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail when it crosses into Westfield.
CLICK HERE FOR FCHT NORTH MAP
CLICK HERE FOR FCHT SOUTH MAP
FARMINGTON VALLEY GREENWAY LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON
NOVEMBER 13, 2016
FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON
NOVEMBER 02, 2016
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