Planted:                        October 3, 2001     

Length:                         Farmington Canal Heritage Trail South; 14.5 miles completed.

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

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

                                       Sherman Ave parking lot to Letterbox; 1/4 mile

Difficulty:                     Easy. Flat, paved rail trail.


To start in 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 at the Sherman Ave parking lot in 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

The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a ten foot wide 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 it is broken up into three completed sections in Connecticut. The southern section is complete from New Haven to Cheshire. The central section is complete in Southington, See; Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Central and the northern section is complete for 22 miles from Farmington to the Massachusetts border. See; Farmington Canal Heritage Trail North . 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; This section of the trail is called the Farmington Canal Linear Park

Note; Future plans call for continuing the trail north to Southington where another completed section of the trail is paved. See; Farmington Canal Heritage Trail Central .

Head south where 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 and rollerblading is very popular. 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 3.1 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 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 .






NOVEMBER 13, 2015