Connecticut February 25, 2018
11 Scenic Rail Trails In Connecticut That Are Downright Picture Perfect
Railroads were once the most popular way to transport goods and travelers around the state of Connecticut. In the late 1800s, there were over 1000 miles of track crossing the Nutmeg state. Today, only 629 miles of railroad is in use for freight and passenger trains, but many of the defunct lines have been re-purposed into recreational rail trails for walkers and bikers.
Rail trails are different from the hiking trails that climb hills and descend into valleys. These former train lines are generally flat and have gentle curves which makes them the perfect destination for a leisurely stroll or ride. Let’s take a look at eleven of these picturesque rail trails.
1. Farmington River Trail
This trail is paved making it an excellent choice for foot traffic as well as biking, skateboarding, and rollerblading. The Farmington River Trail extends for 14.9 miles from Farmington to Simsbury. You'll be granted water views of the Farmington River along the way.
2. Air Line State Park Trail
Running for 55 miles from the Northeast corner of Connecticut down to East Hampton in the center of the state, The Air Line State Park Trail is one of the longest. Some highlights of this long trail include an old cattle bridge, beautiful marshes, a few small waterfalls, and the Lyman and Rapallo viaducts. This trail is the perfect place to enjoy nature at its finest.
3. Pequonnock River Trail
This 12 mile trail that stretches between Bridgeport and Monroe is broken into sections. It has some distances of very peaceful forest settings with beautiful brook views. The trail is a great choice for a family outing.
4. Middlebury Greenway
This 4.4 mile winding trail follows and old trolley line that once brought visitors to Middlebury's Lake Quassapaug resorts. The paved trail winds through residential areas and wooded areas. Highlights include Quassy Amusement Park and Meadowview Park, both of which the trail passes. The Middlebury Greenway is also handicapped accessible.
5. Stratton Brook State Park Trail
This 1.2 mile trail is short, but oh so sweet. It runs from Simsbury to Stratton Brook State Park, the first state park that is entirely wheelchair accessible, and a great spot for a picnic. The tree canopy creates a tunnel effect that is almost magical.
6. Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail spans 40 miles from New Haven to the Connecticut/Massachusetts border. The trail follows the path of the one time longest canal in New England. Some points of interest include an old brick depot, Lock 12 and its keeper's house, as well as the historical park it occupies.
7. Vernon Rails-to-Trails Park
Vernon Rails-to-Trails Park is a 5.9 mile trail. Even though it is a shorter path, it offers a peek at a charming waterfall, plenty of beautiful plants and trees and perhaps the chance to see some local wildlife.
8. Larkin State Park Trail
Larkin State Park Trail connects Southbury and Naugatack with a 10.4 mile stretch. Meandering through the woods, this path welcomes pedestrians, bikers, horseback riders, and cross country skiers. It is mainly a forest trail with woodland and wetland views.
9. Kress Family Trail
This dirt trail in Roxbury spans just 2.5 miles. The Kress Family trail winds along the Shepaug River. It is a popular destination for snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the winter, while hikers enjoy the trail year round.
10. Hop River State Park Trail
From Manchester to Willimantic, 20 miles of crushed stone make for a wonderful journey. Narrow rock cuts and plentiful tree canopy make this a favorite spot for recreation. Biking, walking, cross country skiing, and horseback riding are all encourage on this handicapped accessible rail trail.
11. Sue Grossman Still River Greenway
The Sue Grossman Still River Greenway is a paved path that extends 2.9 miles between Torrington and Winchester. Bordered at times by charming wooden fences and wild flowers, people of all ages enjoy using this trail.
You can get more information and trail maps for any of the above rail trails on the
Trail Link website. Have you enjoyed any of Connecticut’s rail trails? Which one has your favorite scenery? Let us know in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you.
For the food lovers out there, you might want to take this
heavenly cheese trail through Connecticut.