By Leon A. Sylvester
The rugged trails and scenic landscapes of the New England countryside give cyclists in Connecticut a wide variety of terrain to choose from. While some riders enjoy flat smooth distance rides and taking in the sights, other crave the bumpy, ever changing challenges of trail and mountain riding. Whether you’re looking to take a family bike ride or to test your skills racing against other riders, Connecticut has just the place for you. Here is our list of some the best places to spin the tires and fulfill your need for speed on two wheels.
The Derby Greenway
Entrances at Main, Caroline and Division Streets
Difficulty Level: Easy
The Derby Greenway is a 1.7 mile paved multi purpose section of The Naugatuck Valley Greenway and is an excellent choice for a quick cruise or a family bike ride with the kids. The greenway currently runs from downtown Main Street down the Housatonic River’s shoreline before branching off to follow the Naugatuck River’s banks north to Division Street. Phase two and Phase three of the greenway is already in the works and plans include extension of the trail to reach into Shelton, Ansonia, Orange and eventually into Naugatuck and beyond. Bikers will find relatively easy terrain with only a few hills and turns to navigate. The trail gives riders very little relief from the sun and wind as there is very little shade or tree cover. There are plenty benches and pull off areas to take a break and enjoy the sounds and sights of the two rivers and there are shops, food and services all within a short bike ride of the greenway.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
New Haven CT. to North Hampton MA.
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Difficulty Level: Moderate due to length
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is an approximately 80 mile multi-purpose trail running from the Yale Campus in Downtown New Haven to North Hampton Massachusetts. The Trail is still under construction and is about 80% complete so continuous travel along the entire route is not yet possible. Still, there are many uninterrupted section to enjoy including; stretches from Hamden to Cheshire and Farmington to Southwick MA. The trail itself is paved or crushed gravel (depending on the section) and provides easy navigation for riders of all ages and levels. There are plenty of stores, restaurants, services along most of the route and riders will find both scenic and historic viewing opportunities along the way.
Indian Ledge Park – Trumbull Racing and Cycling
180 Whitney Avenue
Trumbull, CT. 06611
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Difficulty Level: Challenging
Indian Ledge Park offers more experienced riders some challenging terrain to sink their tires into. Mountain bikers will find trails with varying pitches and rocky terrain that will test even the best full suspension bike. While much of Indian Ledge Park is for experienced riders, there are several trails which offer bikers a much more subtle introduction to the world of trail riding and mountain biking. The trails offer riders plenty of shade on hot days and are filled with picturesque views along the way of the Pequonnock River and surrounding wilderness. For kids looking to test their bicycle racing skills, Trumbull BMX Track is located within the park and offers racing and lessons for riders of all levels.
Don’t feel like pedaling? Here are the best back roads for road trips.
Leon A. Sylvester lives in the Housatonic Valley and has been an avid boater and angler for over 25 years. He is a featured weekly outdoor columnist in Hersam Acorn Newspapers throughout southwestern CT.. and is a founding director of FOTHR (Friends of the Housatonic River) which is a non-profit enviromental watchdog organization protecting the shores of the lower Housatonic River. You can follow him on twitter @ Fishingreporter.