FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL; SOUTHERN SECTION:

NEW HAVEN-SOUTHINGTON, CONNECTICUT

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT- 

Last Updated;              January 17, 2023   

Length:                        Farmington Canal Heritage Trail; South; 23.3 miles completed. 

                                       Gap to New Haven Harbor; 2 miles

Difficulty:                    Easy. Flat, paved rail trail.

Directions:

To start from Southington [Northern End]; From I-84 take exit 30. Eastbound; Come to Atwater St. Westbound; Come to Marion Ave and head left underneath the highway where you'll come to Atwater St.

    For the Summer Street parking lot; Continue east on Marion Ave which turns into W Main St. As you enter the town turn left on Summer St where you'll find parking on your right.

    For the Canal Street parking lot; Travel south on Atwater St which turns into Canal St. After crossing Route 322, the parking lot will be on your left.

To start from Cheshire [Central Section]; Take Route 10 to Cornwall Ave (just south of the junction of Routes 10, 68 and 70). Go west down Cornwall Ave for seven-tenths of a mile. A parking lot is located on the left, just past the trailhead.  

To start from Hamden [Central Section]; Take Route 10 to Sherman Ave in Hamden, just south of the Sleeping Giant SP entrance. The parking lot is just down the road on the left.

To start from New Haven [Southern Section]; You can access the trail from the Metro-North's State Street Station. For more information visit; Metro North Railroad . If you click on the individual stations, they have available both directions and maps. 

To start from the Long Wharf Pier Park parking lot or Canal Dock Boathouse in New Haven [Southern End]; From I-95 take exit 46. 

Northbound; Come to Long Wharf Drive and head left alongside Long Wharf Park. The parking lot is located at the Pier, with additional parking next to the Visitor Center at the Park. Just east up Long Wharf Drive is the Canal Dock Boathouse with on street parking across from it.

Southbound; Come to Sargent Dr and head left. Turn left on Wharf Drive and follow alongside Long Wharf Park. The parking lot is located at the Pier, with additional parking next to the Visitor Center at the Park. Just east up Long Wharf Drive is the Canal Dock Boathouse with on street parking across from it.

The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a paved multi-use trail that extends from New Haven North 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/Plainville and the Northern Section is complete from Plainville/Farmington to the Massachusetts border. A gap currently exists, as of  2023, between the two sections in Plainville. See; Farmington Canal Heritage Trail; Northern Section . Check out; FCHT PLAINVILLE DRAFT MAP for route through Plainville. Plans are also in the works to connect the CT Fastrak Trail in New Britain to the FCHT in Plainville. See; DRAFT MAP . In Massachusetts the Canal continued North to Northampton and was known as the Hampshire & Hampden Canal. The paved trail continues North through Massachusetts following the rail bed of the former New Haven & Northampton RR. In Mass, unlike CT, the trail sections all have different names as you cross town borders. The first section is called the Southwick Rail Trail in Southwick, followed by the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail in Westfield. A gap currently exists, as of 2023, between 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; Williamsburg Branch  travels Northwest towards Williamsburg and the Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck Branch which travels East towards Amherst. For more information See; FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL .

The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is part of the EAST COAST GREENWAY , a planned biking & hiking route stretching 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. When complete it will traverse 15 states with a mostly off-road path.

Encouraged by the success of the 363-mile Erie Canal and looking for ways to more effectively compete with the port of Hartford, a group of New Haven businessmen met to discuss the idea of a canal route from New Haven to the Massachusetts border and beyond.  Representatives from seventeen towns met in Farmington, CT in January 1822 and persuaded the legislature to issue a charter for the formation of the Farmington Canal Company.  At about the same time the Hampshire & Hampden Canal Company was formed in Massachusetts to extend the canal from Southwick, MA north to the Connecticut River in Northampton. 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 commercial operations on the Canal ceased. The New Haven & Northampton Railroad Co. was chartered in 1846.  Dubbed the “Canal Line,” the first section from New Haven to Plainville was completed in 1847, mostly along the route of the canal.  By 1850 the line had been completed from Plainville to the Massachusetts border. See; NH & NH RR .

Note; The section of trail from Long Wharf to Temple Street in New Haven is not complete and contains on-road sections as of 2023.

Starting from Long Wharf Pier/Canal Dock Boathouse in New Haven [Southern End]; Spot the red "Boathouse at Canal Dock" located between Long Wharf Pier to the West and the Canal Dock Boathouse to the East. This is where the trail roughly starts. 

Note; I believe the trail will officially begin from the CANAL DOCK BOATHOUSE which has on-street parking in front of it. The Canal Dock Boathouse was constructed from the remains of the old George Adee Memorial Boathouse, which was built in 1911 and served as the home of the Yale University crew teams. It was razed in 2007 to make way for the new Pearl Harbor suspension Bridge over the Quinnipiac River. As you can see from the Map Below, the Farmington Canal started from Water St between Union & State streets. This is where the current rail line is located. Over the years Union Basin was filled in creating the rail yards, Long Wharf area and I-95.

Long Wharf Park & Nature Preserve:

The EAST COAST GREENWAY comes into Long Wharf Park from the Southwest before continuing North along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. Heading Southwest from the red "Boathouse at Canal Dock" along the sidewalk and you'll pass by Long Wharf Pier (The Schooner's Freedom Amistad & Quinnipiack are sometimes berthed at Long Wharf Pier). You can head out to the end of the pier where you'll get good views of the New Haven Harbor & Terminal as well as the monument atop East Rock Park to the north before coming to the Visitors Center parking lot and paved trail at Long Wharf Park

Note; Long Wharf Park is slated to be rebuilt in the future and will include new Paths & Trails.

The paved trail winds Southwest through this narrow park along the New Haven Harbor which contains some benches, a few Porto-Potty's and not much else. The paved trail ends at the Vietnam War Veteran Memorial Monument after 0.7 miles. However, you can continue along a stone-dust trail through the Long Wharf Nature Preserve. After exiting the preserve the trial is briefly paved out to the Blvd Pump Station and Bayview Park at 1 mile. Continuing straight, South, will bring you out to the Sound School facility and Sea St. Continue West on-road along Sea St (residential) and spot the East Coast Greenway signs along this route. Come to a traffic circle past which you'll pick up a wide paved trail at 1.4 miles. This follows alongside Sea St, then Ella T Grasso Blvd out to Kimberly Ave (Route 122) at 1.7 miles.

Note; The Long Wharf Drive 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK also travels alongside Long Wharf Dr starting from the Long Wharf Nature Preserve and heading Northeast. It takes you past the Long Wharf Pier & red "Boathouse at Canal Dock" before heading inland along East St. Come to Water St after 1.3 miles where you'll pick up the Water Street 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK heading left, West, alongside Water St. Come to Brewery St after 1.7 miles. Here you'll connect to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail:

Starting from Long Wharf Drive next to the red "Boathouse at Canal Dock" in New Haven [Southern End]

Head Southwest to the second cross-light over Long Wharf Drive. This leads to the paved Farmington Canal Heritage Trail which travels North underneath I-95. Across the street is IKEA. The trail continues right alongside Sargent St, then Brewery St before traveling underneath Route 34. This brings you to Water St. Head left, West, along the Water Street 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK which brings you to Olive St where it currently ends, as of 2023, after 0.6 miles.

Note; Plans are in the works to continue the Water Street 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK up to State St. Here the planned State Street 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK will take you north, past the Metro-North's State Street Station, to Olive & Grove Streets. Here, you'll cross State St to the Grove Street 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK. You'll then cross Orange St and pick up the paved trail on your right where you'll travel underneath the Grove Street Garage along the old railbed. This section is below grade. As of 2023 they are still working on this below grade section. See Maps Below.

The proposed trail extension, which includes a cycle track on Water & Grove Streets

The Canal Trail's proposed curve onto State Street at Grove & Olive Streets

 

Current Detour: From the end of the Water Street 2 WAY SEPARATED CYCLE TRACK cross Water St and continue West, on-road up Water St. Turn right along Union St (double wide sidewalk) past Union Street Dog Park. Turn left on Chapel St and cross the RR tracks to State St heading right (wide sidewalk). Pass by the Metro-North's State Street Station at 1.2 miles, where you'll find a Map Board of New Haven. Cross Court St and Grand Ave before coming to Olive St. Cross State St and follow Grove St (use Wall St if coming from the opposite direction as these are one-way streets). Cross Orange St and look right, just before the Grove Street Garage, to spot where the old rail trail traveled below grade through the city. [This is where they plan on connecting into the rail trail. Construction was still underway in  2023]. Continue up Grove St to Hillhouse Ave and head right. This takes you through a beautiful section of Yale full of old brownstone buildings before you cross a pedestrian bridge over the trail where a side path takes you down to the completed Farmington Canal Heritage Trail at 2 miles.

Note; Left the trail travels underneath Hillhouse Ave and ends at the Temple Street Tunnel after 0.1 miles. The trail will continue South through the city along this below grade section. Construction was still underway in  2023.

Continuing North [Continuing Mileage] along the paved Farmington Canal Heritage Trail you travel below grade past Yale buildings. A 911 Call System with cameras dot this section of trail. Travel underneath Prospect St where you exit the below grade section. Pass by Scantlebury Park (Porto-Potty, BIKE STATION) and across Webster St where the trail parallels Canal St. This urban section of trail contains multiple road crossings marked by large brownstone pillars. Cross Hazel St at 3.2 miles where you'll find some old RR tracks along the side. Cross Goodrich St at 3.7 miles as you leave New Haven and enter Hamden. Here several large trail signs hang over the trail. Again this urban section has multiple road crossings. The Hamden section has Mile Markers painted on the trail every 0.1 miles (unfortunately the trail is not uniformly marked through all the towns) along with informational boards. Cross an iron arched bridge over Putnam Ave at 4.4 miles. Here the trail is more wooded as you travel between a commercial/industrial corridor and Lake Whitney Open Space. Travel underneath Treadwell St followed by Mather St at 5.4 miles. Pass by an old RR Buffer Stop before traveling underneath Route 14 and crossing an old RR bridge over Connolly Pkwy at 6 miles. The trail then veers off the old rail bed around a commercial district before traveling through a tunnel under Skiff St, alongside Route 15 and back up to the rail bed at 7 miles. 

Note; A Spur Trail on your right leads to a bridge across Shepard Brook into Center Park.

Cross an old RR bridge over Dixwell Ave, where a stone-dust jogging path follows the trail, followed by another bridge over Sanford St at 7.4 miles. Here the trail follows a wooded corridor paralleling Shepard Brook. Travel underneath Sherman Lane and across several small stone bridge crossings. The trail veers off the old rail bed again at 9.4 miles where it follows alongside Sherman Ave. Pass by the entrance for the Quinnipiac University York Hill Campus before coming to the Sherman Ave parking lot at 9.7 miles. Pick up the old rail bed again as you travel underneath Sherman Ave. Pass through a short deep rock cut and emerge at W Woods Rd at 10.4 miles.

Note; Right, East, across Route 10 and along Mt Carmel Ave brings you to SLEEPING GIANT SP .

Here the trail detours through a small shopping plaza before returning to the rail bed. Cross Todd Street where you'll find a parking lot at 10.7 miles. Porto-Potty and Map Board located here. Cross an iron bridge over Eaton Brook (look left to spot a separate bridge for the jogging path). Left the old Farmington Canal parallels the trail. Pass by the old Lock Keepers House at 11.5 miles. Lock 14 located here. Police substation here along with a Porto-Potty, water fountain, benches and Maps. Cross Shepard Ave, River Rd and Brooksvale Ave at 12 miles. Come to an intersection at 13 miles. Map Board located here.

Note; Left over the bridge brings you to Brooksvale Recreation Park.

Continuing North just before Mt Sanford Rd on your left spot an informational sign. Behind this is another old Lock 10?. After crossing Mt Sanford Rd you enter Cheshire. Mile Marker posts every 0.1 miles (not many left). Cross Willow Brook, where the canal now contains water, before S Brooksvale Rd. Cross a bridge at 14.4 miles and you'll come to Lock 12 Park. Most well preserved Lock. Picnic pavilion, water fountain and museum and parking lot. Cross another bridge before coming to the main Lock 12 parking lot where you cross N Brooksvale Rd. Cross another bridge before Higgins Rd, then one last bridge before coming to the Cornwall Ave parking lot at 16.1 miles. Continuing the trail passes by a picnic area on your right (BIKE STATION) and more parking on your left. A couple of wide cement boardwalks take you through the wetlands for Willow Brook. You then pass by the Railroad Ave parking lot where you'll find a Map Board, restrooms, BIKE STATION and water fountain at 16.8 miles. The paved trail continues North across Main St where you'll find another Map Board. Pass by an old RR abutment where the former Meridian, Waterbury Connecticut River RR line crossed. Informational signs located along the trail. You pick up the old canal along your right with a promenade jutting into it at 17.1 miles. Pass by another old RR abutment where the former Cheshire Street Railway Streetcar line crossed before the trail comes to Jarvis St at 18.3 miles. Cross the road where the trail continues North passing by the Jarvis Street parking lot at 18.4 miles. Bridge leads to the parking lot, restrooms and Map Board. Cross Sandbank Rd at 18.9 miles before passing by a large marsh. Cross Schoolhouse Rd at 19.7 miles followed by an old RR bridge over Tenmile River 20.2 miles. A second bridge takes you over W Johnson Ave followed by a third bridge over I-691. You cross into Southington and come to the Canal Street parking lot after 20.8 miles. A Map Board and benches are located here. Yellow Mileage Markers are painted along this section every 0.5 miles. The trail then travels underneath the "New Haven-Northampton RR Canal Line" sign following an open industrial/residential corridor. Cross an old RR bridge over Route 322, then look to your left at 21.1 miles for the old red 1894 Milldale Train Station (Contains a museum, water fountain, picnic tables and a Porto-Potty). You'll next pass by the old Clark Brothers Bolt Company building (circa; 1854) that has been nicely refurbished. Just after you cross Burritt Street at 21.4 miles, a parking lot will be on your right. The trail travels underneath some on/off ramps for I-84, then comes alongside Canal St before crossing and traveling alongside Atwater St at 21.9 miles. The trail then pulls away from the road and travels through dirt fields before crossing over Eight Mile River and past a cement plant. You cross over W Main St at 22.7 miles and enter a commercial area. Places to eat. The trail continues north past parking areas along Summer Street. Lots of nice murals painted along this section. After 23.3 miles you'll come to a bridge that crosses over the Quinnipiac River. There is an old railroad siding here, as well as benches. Two cross-walks will get you over Bristol & W Center Streets before you cross Center St, where the town has brick lined sidewalks, benches and lampposts. Just before you cross Mill St at 24 miles, look right to spot some benches, a water fountain, BIKE STATION and an emergency phone behind the Southington Water Dept. Next you'll pass by the Mill Street parking lot on your left at 24.1 miles. Porto-Potty. The trail follows the Quinnipiac River watershed along your left before entering a residential area and crossing Hart St and Cutriss St after 24.7 miles. The old RR tracks are still embedded in the road here. Cross a bridge over the Quinnipiac River then travel across a former "Superfund Site". Come to a Map Board and the Lazy Lane parking lot at 25.3 miles and the current end of the trail.

Construction is underway, as of Aug 2023, on the next 1.27-mile section of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Southington. With expected completion in 2024, the trail will go North from the current terminus at Lazy Lane to Aircraft Rd, and includes refurbishment of an existing rail tunnel under I-84.

Note; As of 2023, a gap exists North from Southington through Plainville to Farmington where you connect to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail; Northern Section , as well as, the Farmington River Rail Trail . A 2 mile section is undeveloped in Southington from Lazy Lane to Town Line Rd in Plainville. The Plainville section has been divided into 3 Phases. Phase 1, which should begin in 2023, will go from Town Line Rd to Norton Park. Phase 3 will go from Norton Park to Route 72 and Phase 2 will continue from Route 72 to Northwest Dr in Farmington.

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