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CT: Farmington Canal Heritage Trail

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CT: Farmington Canal Heritage Trail

Old 06-27-21, 12:43 PM
  #51  
UniChris
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Finally got to ride the entire 82 mile New Haven to Northampton route, and wish I'd done so sooner.

Main conclusion is that while the CT and MA gaps are road rides, as road rides go they're not bad.

​​​​​​For the mid-CT gap, ECG routing (which Google maps and navigation use) actually starts at the road crossing before the end of contiguous trail at Lazy Lane. The first miles on Flanders are fairly quiet, large-lots residential with a fair amount of moderate up and down - nothing challenging, but compared to a rail trail notable. Next after crossing over the highway there's a section that turns this way and that through quiet, dense subdivisions where navigation beat my soggy cuesheet. That routed me into a seeming dead end at a cul-de-sac but then I spotted a sidewalk sized paved path and was pleased to find it crossed a brook back onto good roads. Soon came out to rt 10 which didn't feel bad and had a very welcome choice of gas station marts and pharmacies for fluid refill. From there under a highway it was a surprisingly short and comfortable shoulder ride until a bidirectional path began over on the southbound side, but traffic was calm enough I didn't bother crossing to it. A mix of off road path and shoulder then lead west to the trail parking at the Plainville/Farmington line where the rail line paralleling the runway once had a bridge.

In Avon there's a new whole foods [edit: still under construction] uphill from the police station where the trail exits the tunnel under rt 44 at what has been a resource-free stretch of a built up area. Some of the paving issues by the condos in Simsbury are newly fixed but some remain. Overall these are brief spots needing vigilence in 60 odd miles of generally excellent trail. Water fountain on Iron Horse behind Drake hill mall was on but had pathetic pressure, did not try the following playground as I tend to opt for either the gas station mart just north of crossing into Simsbury at Hopmeadow or the one at the north end of the built up area; there's little between there and Westfield without detour except at the limited hours of riding hoods basket just north of the state line.

Westfield has replaced the bridge at the current trails end at stop & shop but that and the rest running to the river is not yet open (there's a disconnected segment over the river itself but the road bridges are not bad at off hours and have walkable sidewalks, either of which can beat the challenge of getting to that little bit of trail). Mechanic & Bartlett are a quieter route from the trail to the river but Elm Street itself isn't terrible.

From Westfield I continue to use Union to Papermill to East Mountain and continue through name changes up to Park St to intercept the trail at the Williston school in Easthampton. East Mountain can get car brigading at some hours but all in all is workable and feels preferable to the curving no-shoulder hill on the stretch of Elm between the river and Mass Pike, though the boldly assertive can probably make that work, too.

Some of the cracks behind the mills in Easthampton are newly fixed but those hiding under the tree cover between the downtown road crossing and the mill remain as potential dusk surprises - still these are rare issues in a long route of all-tires-friendly pavement.

Last edited by UniChris; 07-06-21 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 07-05-21, 10:08 PM
  #52  
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Nice review. However, the Whole Foods near the Avon PD is not yet open. Looks likely to open soon, however. Just rode through there today.

I do much of my riding on that trail (between Plainville and Simsbury) but have not gone all the way to Massachusetts yet. My son did so on a Boy Scout ride. I have also ridden the Farmington River trail up to Collinsville and back, but have not done the last few miles to connect to Simsbury. Instead, I turned around and went back to Avon. That ride, from Thompson Rd. parking area in Avon up to Collinsville and back appears to be about 22 miles so pretty close to the distance of the whole 28 mile "loop."

When I have four hours or so I will do the loop, Thompson Rd. to Thompson Rd.
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Old 07-06-21, 09:26 AM
  #53  
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You should do both the ride to MA and the loop. Simsbury north is easy and flat, there's a huge detour (still off road path) around a nursery and then a few spots of pavement damage but no real issues and you're soon back on a path through the woods and another scenic overlook at a river. State line after last CT parking and two little bridges is easy to miss but signage changes and pavement condition gets a few years better. You can turn around at riding hoods basket (open mid-day hours only) or continue to Westfield. Just be aware that apart from that, between the last gas station / new grocery store in Simsbury by Antonios there's practically nothing until the Westfield trailhead at the Stop & Shop parking lot.

Farmington river loop is best ridden clockwise. Right after the end of the trail at Best Cleaners and teaser piece 100 yards up Lawton Rd traffic can seem a little dubious for a moment, but it's the gentler climb and you're passed by climbing traffic vs that bombing down the hill. Dry Bridge Rd then makes a steeper descent to Simsbury. The path through the state forrest could be missed if unaware, it's easy gravel but has sometimes had construction closures, there's a road route around to the north.

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Old 07-06-21, 05:05 PM
  #54  
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Thanks, Chris. I always planned on doing the loop clockwise. And I will definitely ride to Mass. As I said, my son in Scouts has already done that ride and back with his troop (though they started at Sperry Park). I just need to find the time. I usually get out for an hour and a half or two hours at a time. I need more than that to do either the loop or the trip from Thompson Rd. to Mass.

I have crossed Rte 44 at the place where the bike route does many times, as I like that little farm stand that is a short ways up on the right. Also, I often go to the Roaring Brook Nature Center when I only have time for a quick hike.

Your posts about this trail have been great, btw. Made me look at it with new eyes.
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Old 07-07-21, 02:25 PM
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Seems there's a short term (early July 2021) mama bear advisory on the river loop in Canton between Atwater and Commerce. Simmonds Ave probably works as bypass.
​​​​​​
Despite the density of people it is definitely bear territory - saw a little guy west of the river just before Collinsville a few years back and a big one waddling down the trail just off Hopmeadow at the Simsbury/Avon line last year.

https://www.wfsb.com/news/residents-...s0AdyJVNbs8Co0

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Old 07-07-21, 08:22 PM
  #56  
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Saw a bear (looked like a medium size juvenile) cross the trail a couple days ago in Farmington where it goes in back of New Britain Ave. It was about 40 feet ahead of me.
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