FARMINGTON CANAL HERITAGE TRAIL SOUTHERN SECTION:

NEW HAVEN-SOUTHINGTON, CONNECTICUT

FARMINGTON CANAL RAIL TRAIL LETTERBOX;

HAMDEN, CONNECTICUT

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT- 

Letterbox Planted:      October 3, 2001

Last Updated;               July 23, 2016     

Length:                         Farmington Canal Heritage Trail South; 23 miles completed. (includes 0.7 mile detour in Cheshire) 

                                       Detour to New Haven Harbor (Vision Trail); 2 miles

                                       Harborside Trail (Long Wharf Park & Nature Preserve); 1.1 mile                                             

Difficulty:                    Easy. Flat, paved rail trail.

Directions:

To start from Southington; 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; 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; 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; 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. For information concerning taking your bike on the Train visit; METRO NORTH; BIKES

    For the Long Wharf Park parking lot; From I-95 take exit 46. Southbound; Come to Long Wharf Drive and continue straight. A parking lot is next to the Visitor Center. Northbound; Come to Sargent Dr and head left. Turn left on Wharf Drive and follow to the Visitor Center parking lot.

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 Northern Section . Currently a gap between Southington-Plainville and Farmington separates the two sections. 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 VALLEY GREENWAY & 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 .

Starting in Cheshire from the Cornwall Ave parking lot; 

Heading North; 

Note; A gap currently exists between Cornwall Ave and Main St and requires a short on-road detour. Scheduled for construction in 2017.

 Turn right on Cornwall Ave and quickly cross over the road to Willow St. Follow Willow St north (residential road) out to Main St and head left to a cross-light after 0.7 miles. The paved trail continues north underneath the "Farmington Canal heritage Trail" sign. Map board. Pass by an old bridge abutment. Informational signs located along the trail. You pick up the old canal along your right with a promenade jutting into it at 1 mile. Pass by more bridge abutments before the trail comes to Jarvis St at 2.2 miles.

Note; As of July 2016 the trail is currently under construction heading north to Southington. 

Cross the road where the trail continues north passing by the Jarvis Street parking lot at 2.3 miles. Bridge leads to the parking lot, restrooms and map board. Cross Sandbank Rd at 2.8 miles before passing by a large marsh. Cross Schoolhouse Rd at 3.6 miles followed by an old RR bridge over Tenmile River 4.1 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 4.7 miles. A map board and benches are located here. 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 5 miles for the old red Milldale Train Station (contains a museum). 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 5.3 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 5.8 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 6.6 miles and enter a commercial area. The trail continues north past parking areas along Summer Street. Mileage markers are painted along the trail every 1/4 mile. After 7.2 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 7.9 miles, look right to spot some benches, a water fountain and an emergency phone behind the Southington Water Dept. Next you'll pass by the Mill Street parking lot on your left. The trail follows the Quinnipiac River watershed along your left before entering a residential area and ending at Cutriss St after 8.5 miles. The old RR tracks are still embedded in the road here. 

Note; As of July 2016 a gap exists north from Southington through Plainville and into Farmington where you connect to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Northern Section , as well as, the Farmington River Rail Trail .

Heading South; The old canal runs alongside the trail, although some sections are dried up and other sections have been lost. A stone dust jogging path runs next to the paved trail. All along the trail are wooden or iron benches and bridges, split rail fences and a lot of bird houses. There are also trail map boxes along the way. Parking spots are located at various locations along the trail as well. After 1 3/4 miles, you will come to the Lock 12 Park. This historical park includes two restored locks, a museum, a lockkeepers house and a pavilion with picnic tables out back. The canal flows through a beautiful stone arched bridge with black iron railings, that is part of the trail. Continuing onward, you reach the Hamden section of the trail just shy of 3 miles. This section is called the New Haven & Northampton Railroad: The Canal Line. The signage is very impressive all along the trail system. Not much further along the trail you’ll see a turnoff for Brooksvale Recreation Park on your right. Just before you’ve hit 5.5 miles, the rock faced cliffs of Sleeping Giant State Park will come into view on your left. You then hit Route 10 (Whitney Ave) next to the road entrance to the park. There is a nice deli here if you should need replenishment. You’ll ride through a rock cut and hit a straight stretch with Route 10 below you. About halfway through the straight stretch will be an orange sign on a post for the fiber optic cable line. From this sign post take a compass reading of 136 degrees. You’ll see two large rocks together. Between them is the Farmington Canal Rail Trail LetterboxThis is about the 6 mile mark. If you continue onward down the trail you’ll see the old Mount Carmel Train Station on your left. About a 1/4 mile from the Letterbox is the Sherman Ave Parking Lot on your right. The trail travels away from Route 10 and through the backyards of Hamden neighborhoods. You cross back over Route 10 and you'll come alongside the Wilbur Cross Pkwy. The trail then heads up and crosses over Skiff St where it travels behind a retail plaza. After 10.2 miles you'll pass an access trail down to Connolly Parkway and Hamden High School before crossing an old railroad bridge over Connolly Pkwy. The trail then travels underneath the Wilbur Cross Pkwy and behind commercial properties along Route 10. Informational signs about the Farmington Canal are located along the trail as well. Another access trail, this time to Treadwell St, at 11.3 miles. An iron arched bridge takes you over Putnam Ave, followed by several more street crossings before you come to the Hamden/New Haven town line at 12.7 miles. Here the trail is all urban.

Note; The town of New Haven places two large stone pillars at each street crossing. There are also blue "Emergency" phones located along the trail.

After crossing Ivy St there are some old RR tracks still in place along the trail. You'll pass by the Science Center, an old dilapidated area of buildings along your right before crossing Munson St at 13.8 miles. The trail travels alongside Canal St and after crossing Webster St you enter the campus of Yale University. There are blue "Emergency Phones" located along this section. You start to enter the "sunken rail trail" section with some massive retaining walls along your right. The trail then travels under Prospect St and past the massive glass Malone Engineering Center, which is part of Yale. This brings you to an access trail up to Hillhouse Ave at 14.5 miles and the currant end of the trail. The "sunken rail trail" continues below grade and underneath Temple St through a long tunnel into downtown. Plans call for utilizing this corridor into town and exiting near the Audubon Arts District, although I'm not sure of the exact plans. 

Note; You may extend your trip into downtown and then out to the New Haven Harbor along the Vision Trail where you may then access Long Wharf Park & the Long Wharf Nature Preserve. This 2 mile detour is partly on-road (sidewalks available), partly along paved trail and partly along a stone-dust trail. 

Head up the access trail to Hillhouse Ave and turn right over the pedestrian bridge. This takes you through a beautiful section of Yale full of old brownstone buildings. Take a left on Grove St and then a left along Whitney Ave. Keep an eye to your right and you'll spot the "sunken rail trail" as it travels below grade between two buildings before coming to Audubon St. Plenty of places to grab a bite to eat here. Hang a right down Audubon St, a brick lined walkway and you'll come to the Audubon Arts District. Continue straight to State St and cross over to the wide sidewalk. Head right, traveling alongside State St with the RR tracks on your left. When you reach Wall St on the opposite side of the street, you can see where the "sunken rail trail" would have merged with the currant RR line. However, when they built the FBI building they filled in the old tunnel from Grove St to Wall St. You'll pass by the Metro-North's State Street Station after a mile, where you'll find a map board of New Haven. When you come to Chapel St hang a left and cross over the RR tracks. Take a right along Union St. You'll see a green sign for the Vision Trail here. The Vision Trail is an off-road trail that was built to link downtown to the harbor for the 1995 Special Olympic World Games. Union Parkway, a small, narrow park with furniture runs along the right side of the street. Cross over Water St and head left. You'll come to Heath Dr on the right. Head down this road and underneath the Oak St Connector (Route 34) where a paved trail picks up on your right. Follow this trail out to a road that passes between the CT DOT rail yard and a US Postal Service facility. When you come to Brewery St a cross-walk brings you to a cement trail with a brick separator (separates bikes from pedestrians). Continue left along Brewery St to Sargent St where the trail continues right. A cross-light takes you past the IKEA entrance. Another cross-light takes you left over Sargent Dr and underneath I-95 to Long Wharf Drive. Use the cross-light over to a sidewalk along the New Haven Harbor at 2 miles. This is where the Vision Trail ends and the future Harborside Trail travels. Head right along the sidewalk and you'll pass the Long Wharf Pier, where the Freedom Schooner Amistad is sometimes berthed. 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. Continue along the sidewalk and you'll come to the Visitors Center parking lot and paved trail at Long Wharf Park. The paved trail winds through this narrow park along the 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 at 2.8 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 3.1 miles. Continuing straight will bring you out to the Sound School facility and Sea St. Future plans call for continuing the trail out to the Kimberly Ave Bridge (Route 122) along the future HARBORSIDE TRAIL .

HH

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NOVEMBER 13, 2015

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