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CT: Farmington Canal Heritage Trail

Old 07-30-18, 03:52 PM
  #26  
hdkct
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Originally Posted by zoolzoo View Post
One cool thing to do is ride from downtown southbury parking lot near witch doctor brewing... south to hamden and eat at Mikro. It is right on the trail.... good food and beer. You will run into a "path closure" in cheshire... ignore the signs (lol) and ride through the small construction site. There and back is total 32 miles or so.

BTW Witchdoctor is in Southington. Regarding the path closure, it is still closed for a good reason, but looks like it could open soon. Probably best in the interim to continue to take the 1 mile on-road detour from Main St. to Willow to Cornwall.


Mikro has a great beer selection. Also don't forget Kinsman brewery in the southern part of Southington. And while we are drinking our way down the trail (seriously please don't drink and bike), you might want to go off the trail at Town Walk Apartments in Hamden. It's a short trip up the hill on Sherman Lane, then right on Sherman Ave to the first right on Raccio Park Rd to get to Counterweight Brewery, in my opinion, one of the best in the state.
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Old 07-30-18, 04:12 PM
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Does anybody know the status of the missing section from Lazy Lane in Southington to Northwest Drive in Plainville?
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Old 07-30-18, 06:33 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by hdkct View Post
BTW Witchdoctor is in Southington. Regarding the path closure, it is still closed for a good reason, but looks like it could open soon. Probably best in the interim to continue to take the 1 mile on-road detour from Main St. to Willow to Cornwall.


Mikro has a great beer selection. Also don't forget Kinsman brewery in the southern part of Southington. And while we are drinking our way down the trail (seriously please don't drink and bike), you might want to go off the trail at Town Walk Apartments in Hamden. It's a short trip up the hill on Sherman Lane, then right on Sherman Ave to the first right on Raccio Park Rd to get to Counterweight Brewery, in my opinion, one of the best in the state.
Oops typo, yes southington. oh yeah kinsmen is along this way too, good pizza and beer. i didn't know counter weight was right there too!
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Old 09-04-18, 07:16 PM
  #29  
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New section from Cornwall Ave. to West Main St., Cheshire is opening Sep 9, making the trail contiguous from Southington to terminus in New Haven.
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Old 09-05-18, 07:45 AM
  #30  
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I recently received an email about someone saying the construction is almost done and wants to setup a meet there. Currently don't have the time but if anyone is interested I think the group is the scenic bikers.
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Old 09-10-18, 11:13 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by hdkct View Post
New section from Cornwall Ave. to West Main St., Cheshire is opening Sep 9, making the trail contiguous from Southington to terminus in New Haven.
This is great, though the road section wasn't bad at all.
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Old 04-18-19, 12:24 AM
  #32  
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Anyone have a guess for the best route from New Haven Union Station to the start of the trail at Temple St (or I guess for northbound, really Trumball St)?

Seems to be about a mile and a half; Metro North doesn't go to State Street on weekends or that would be closer.

Thinking I want to head up on the train some time and do the southern piece as an afternoon round trip up to the gap and back before trying to do the whole thing as a one way ride to Massachusetts.

(Or maybe I finally do Walkway over the Hudson... about the same length train ride, about the same amount of trail, Walkway is probably more interesting but the lower piece of Farmington Canal a stepping stone towards riding to MA...)

Edit: What I ended up doing was walking northeast on Union Ave from the train station and crossing under 95, then riding the bike lane on North Frontage Road that becomes Orange Street, Left on George, and right on Church Street and followed that up the east side of the green. Two blocks later left on Grove, right on Hillhouse and the trail is on the left on the lawn of a campus building immediately after the iron bridge. At quarter of ten on a weekend traffic was light and it felt comfortable, can't speak to other times or after dark.

Last edited by UniChris; 06-16-19 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 05-01-19, 12:24 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Anyone have a guess for the best route from New Haven Union Station to the start of the trail at Temple St (or I guess for northbound, really Trumball St)?


Seems to be about a mile and a half; Metro North doesn't go to State Street on weekends or that would be closer.


Thinking I want to head up on the train some time and do the southern piece as an afternoon round trip up to the gap and back before trying to do the whole thing as a one way ride to Massachusetts.


(Or maybe I finally do Walkway over the Hudson... about the same length train ride, about the same amount of trail, Walkway is probably more interesting but the lower piece of Farmington Canal a stepping stone towards riding to MA...)

Unfortunately there are no good back streets from the train station. But weekend traffic is not bad in downtown New Haven. State St to Grove St to Prospect or Hillhouse Ave will get you into the general area. Trail entry points at Temple Street and Hillhouse Ave are not well marked, but accessible. If you make your way to Canal/Lock Street via Prospect, there is an East Coast Greenway sign at the entry point.
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Old 06-02-19, 09:18 AM
  #34  
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Finally did the Farmington Canal's lower section yesterday from New Haven to Southington and back.

Overall it's a very nice trail, much of its length quite scenic. Generally it is in pretty good condition, there is a part a few miles up where there are countless tree root cracks but unlike those I'm used to elsewhere they don't really break the plain of the surface so you don't feel them as much riding over - not sure how that happens but I'll take it. Overall the route is very flat; there are just a few places with some mild hills seemingly to get around places where the modern trail has to detour from the original canal route. There's also a lot of shade - I barely needed my helmet brim but finally decided to wear it rather than keep it tied to my pack.

One downside to the trail is that the 2nd mile up from the New Haven start has about 13 road crossings in a row; when you're at one and you can see then next three ahead of you it starts to feel a little ridiculous. But things smooth out by the two mile point.

Services on the trail are quite good; I'd hauled a full distance load of water on the train from NYC and really didn't need to, as there's a water fountain at the lock keeper's house and nice bathrooms and a bottle filling station just north of Cornwall Ave in Cheshire, not to mention the train station itself, next time I'll probably bring fewer bottles and only filled with what I want for the train ride itself.

On a nice Saturday the trail was pretty busy, ended up using my bell and voice quite a bit but never had any issues. It seemed there had been a running race a little earlier in the morning as I passed some untended folded tables with cups of water on the way up, cleaned up by the afternoon return. Probably not a time and place to try for a maximum performance ride, but great for a relaxed or family one.

Getting from the New Haven train station up to the trail wasn't too bad, did a combination of riding bike lanes and some sidewalk walking, but with mild determination it could almost all be ridden. The temple street tunnel is closed so right now the entrance/exit is off Hillhouse Ave in the midst of the Yale campus, unfortunately a mid-block path with absolutely no signage - kind of ironic as most of the trail has ornate stone pillars or even overhead banner signs like the gateways to some cattle ranch.

Unfortunately the end of the southern section across from the Southington police station really feels like an end. Quite a few people were there when we reached it, and none seemed to be trying to go on via roads, though connecting to where the trail picks up about 10 miles north is in the planning stages. I'm hoping to get back up there soon, either meet a friend and start north of the gap in Plainville or maybe just start exploring southward from the Westfield, MA end.



Hillhouse Ave entrance on the Yale campus is charming, but lacks any signage.



Met up with a friend partway up and did the far end together.



Southington should be a middle not an end, but it's not setup to make going on feel welcoming, even by road. Hopefully this gap gets connected to the next piece in Plainville soon. And hopefully someday the end in Westfield, MA will connect through to the Manhan trail restoring the historic New Haven to Northampton corridor.

Last edited by UniChris; 06-03-19 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 06-03-19, 09:12 AM
  #35  
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UniChris, I was working a Trails Day event in Hamden on Saturday and saw you as you road past us. Nice machine! Wish I had a chance to talk with you about it. Your observations are correct. My understanding is that connections to the New Haven waterfront will soon be in progress. In Plainville, I believe that funds for the building of the incomplete section have been allocated and the project is under design. You should definitely return and do the northern section.
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Old 06-03-19, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by hdkct View Post
UniChris, I was working a Trails Day event in Hamden on Saturday and saw you as you road past us. Nice machine!
Thanks! Were you with the group at the Lock Keeper's House? I was running late to meet a friend in Cheshire on the way up or would have stopped, didn't return that way until later afternoon when people had packed up, though it was still a very welcome rest stop and opportunity to refill a water bottle - something far too missing on my usual trail running north from NYC.

Really hoping to get back and do the northern and Collinsville sections soon!
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Old 06-10-19, 09:37 AM
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Did pretty much the entire trail yesterday. Started in New Haven and rode up to Southington where I was met by the mom mobile and whisked across the gap in air conditioned comfort up to the fork (thanks, Mom!).

Then rode the Collinsville Branch into Collinsville (but not the rest of the Canton portion) and back to the fork.

Finally headed north through Avon and Simsbury reaching Westfield just after dark, after a hair over 70 ridden miles total. Spent the night at my sister's and now heading back home on the Hartford line train with unicycle bungeed to its excellent bike rack. Just wish they had more than two mid-day schedules, as the Amtrak remainder of the timetable doesn't take bikes.




Suddenly my 36 inch wheel looks small

Overall it's a great trail. Some of the middle parts are most scenic. There are maybe three classes of moderate annoyances.

First unlike the southern section, north of the gap there is very little water or even nearby place to buy it. Could not find the water fountain I expected at the fork, and the market in Collinsville has gone more trendy cafe than convenience, fortunately there was a water fountain outside. While Avon is a built up area the trail missed any real districts so did not find anything until stopping quite dehydrated in Simsbury for gatorade at the CVS just north of the Drake Hill dogleg around mile post 11. The water fountain on the trail down the hill from there did not work but found one a fraction of a mile later in the rotary park playground. Not much of anything between there and Westfield, possibly Kane market three miles further north in Simsbury but they close at 2 on a Sunday.

Next there are some unfortunate detours through an office park on Security Drive in Avon, made worse because you can actually see the rail bridge still in place to make a straight shot just west of Old Farms road up to Sperry Park where it returns to the ROW, and in Simsbury climbing an unnecessary hill to bypass someone's fenced weed patch on a designated stretch of sidewalk (though the north end of that detour at least put me at the shopping plaza that was my fluids stop). Finally at the north end of Simsbury there is a huge detour adding literally a mile to go around a large agricultural operation; at least that is decent flat trail.

Mostly the trail condition is good, however there are some degraded spots. For example behind some condos after first crossing Hopmeadow in Simsbury, in a farm area in Granby just after the field detour, and a few spots in MA (which is generally smooth) where cracks had been outlined in hot pink and that in white, making it look like a tentacle monster was attacking the trail. Actual bumpiest part was just below the new section in Cheshire where they paved in sections with a dip between each, broke a spoke at the elbow shortly after that but was able to unscrew it and carry it out taped to the frame.

Was kind of disappointed there was no sign to take a picture with at the state line, first time I've ever ridden across one since a family bike afternoon half a lifetime ago.

Last edited by UniChris; 06-10-19 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 06-10-19, 11:21 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
kneepads
may I ask, are those for cycling? do you like them? what size are they?
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Old 06-10-19, 11:31 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
may I ask, are those for cycling? do you like them? what size are they?
No, the kneepads are $10 foam things from Home Depot bought in a pinch when the largest gforms were out of stock and then when I did finally get them proved too small. They're better than nothing and block some sun, but weren't entirely enough when I went down directly without any tumbled running steps last summer. Came off on bumps twice yesterday but ran it out staying on my feet, still, I mostly forget I'm wearing them.

Last edited by UniChris; 06-11-19 at 09:39 PM.
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