Trail Biking The Pequonnock Valley Greenway


Pequonnock River - Pequonnock River Greenway in Trumbull CT
Pequonnock River - Pequonnock River Greenway in Trumbull CT
The Housatonic Railroad Trail is a paved bike and pedestrian trail which is the defining feature of an ambitious civic plan called The Pequonnock Valley Greenway. When complete, the greenway and trail will extend from Newfield Harbor at the heart of Bridgeport and extend through Trumbull & Monroe to Newtown. Currently this trail consists of disconnected legs with individualized names. The Berkshire Rail Spur Trail is an 8 foot wide paved trail extending from the Bridgeport Multimodal Station to Post Road alongside Housatonic Avenue. The Primary leg of the trail is paved in some places and crushed stone in others. This is the Pequonnock Valley-Housatonic Rail Trail that navigates 9 miles of wooded park land in Trumbull from Tait Road to Maple Drive. The final stretch of the trail begins 2 blocks down Maple Dr. in Monroe and is named The Monroe-Housatonic Railroad Trail. My very first post on this blog was focused on this last bit of trail between Monroe and Newtown. Today, I will focus on the section in Trumbull.






So many working railroads crisscross Connecticut that it is hard to imagine that some lines lost favor to such a degree that they could be torn up and turned into recreational trails. Even more miraculous is that communities like Trumbull and Monroe were able to stitch together a network of parklands and open spaces long enough to create a "greenway" through the heart of Fairfield County where property values are among the highest in the nation. Even Bridgeport is in on this very bright idea  - having paved wide sections of trail that lead through the core of its commercial district.

A square acre of park is always welcome - to break up the restless noise of urbanity - but a greenway is much more valuable. Even when the parklands that make up a greenway narrow to twenty feet they provide for more valuable outdoor activity than a ball field which sits empty and unused 98% of its life. The ability to connect neighborhoods to commercial districts, to connect people to nature, and neighbors to each other - that is what a bike trail provides. On this Saturday morning in April, there were old couples and gaggles of middle aged women walking and chatting. The smallest children took in the sights from their carriages, while the more brave and curious were running wild in the forest alongside the picturesque Pequonnock River. A high school track and field team were training - running stride outs  back and forth on the trail.  Greenways are accessible, immediately available, and foster unstructured play and unexpected encounters. A community with a well made greenway is a community that is succeeding.

The Pequonnock Greenway is much more than a bike path. First of all, it has a bike path, and a good one at that. It is wide and paved - easy and flat - with well made bridges. But, by embracing the concept of "greenway" it is a series of parks which each have their own identity and tell their own story. The Old Mine Park is the best place to park your car if you are traveling in from out of town (CORRECTION - SEE PARKING SECTION BELOW). The Old Mine of course has its own history - being the site of quartz and tungsten mine. Parlor Rock Park provides postcard worthy scenic views of The Pequonnock - and was formerly the site of an amusement park used to boost traffic on the Housatonic Rail Line. Soon, Beardsley Park in Bridgeport will be a defining feature of The Greenway. These parks provide their own hiking trails which cross the main bike path. They also offer opportunities for mountain biking, fishing, birding, and picnicking.

Trees Downed by Hurricane Sandy - along The Trumbull Rail Trail
My first ride on The Trumbull portion of this trail occurred a few days after Superstorm Sandy struck the area. I was still without power at home, and unable to go to work. After three days of sitting in a dark apartment I was ready to stretch out. A friend of mine suggested The Pequonnock trail through Trumbull, and despite some difficulty navigating downed trees we were able to have a decent bike ride. And, we were not the only hardy bikers and walkers out that late Autumn afternoon. There were numerous patrons of the trail including one fireman from Bridgeport who we stopped to talk with - he rides the full length of the trail from Bridgeport to Newtown each day as exercise - 500 year storm be damned! This was all the testimony I needed to realize how treasured this trail is by its communities.

On that ride and following my ride on the trail this Spring (2013) I had lunch at The Easton Town Store at 430 Sport Hill Road in Easton CT across from the fire department. It is good old general store that sells gas from a single pump when they have gas to sell. Their sandwich board is extensive - hot and cold sandwiches and burgers and fries. Cash only of course.

Community Fire Pit in Parlor Rock Park Trumbull CT


A WORD ON PARKING

Trumbull and Monroe have received millions of dollars in State and Federal grant money to create this public greenway. Despite that, Trumbull maintains an exclusive mentality that is not unique in Fairfield County - not even in poor Bridgeport which sets up a gate and charges a fee to enter Beardsley Park. The Old Mine Park, a State Historical Site, and other parks in Trumbull are closed unless you are a resident of Trumbull. However, Not too far away from Old Mine Park is a Park and Ride at the intersection of Highway 25 and Main Street. This is your best bet for parking if coming in from out of town. There is no sidewalk leading from this parking lot to the trail, and no shoulder. In fact it is a daunting task for elderly bikers or families with children to cross Highway 25 to the trail route. Nonetheless, you won't be bothered for parking there. My suggestion if parking there is to drop off your bike and children at Old Mine Park, park at the park-n-ride, and walk back over. Otherwise, you could just park at Old Mine Park and chances are, no one will bother you there.

Other bike trail communities, notably along The Farmington River Trail in Hartford County, have embraced the destination biking community by providing amenities such as frequent large parking lots on the trail, and restrooms. Bikers traveling into the area often make plans to stop for breakfast or lunch at local eateries along their route and bring along their coveted tourist money. If the long term vision of this trail is to succeed, the communities along this trail are going to have to change their view that recreational bikers pose a threat to their residents. 

Public Parking:
Whitney Road: N41.28054,W073.222788
Tait Road: N41.246906,W073.199963
Broadway Road HWY25 Park and Ride: N41.287002,W073.234877


DIRECTIONS


From Bridgeport10 Minutes
From New Haven25 Minutes
From Hartford45 Minutes
From New London1.5 hours
From Providence2 Hours
From New York1.5 Hours





View Pequonnock Valley Greenway in a larger map

LINKS

Google Map With Bicycle Directions from Black Rock Lighthouse to Newtown

Trail Map

Pequonnock River Trail -Greater Bridgeport Regional Council

Blog: Connecticut Weekender

Blog: Old Mine Park

Parlor Rock Park



PHOTOS

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGES
Tree Damage on the rail trail after Hurricane Sandy 2012
Tree Damage on the rail trail after Hurricane Sandy 2012

Me at a waterfall on the Pequonnock River in Trumbull CT
Me at a waterfall on the Pequonnock River in Trumbull CT

Waterfall on The Pequonnock River in Trumbull CT
Waterfall on The Pequonnock River in Trumbull CT

Trumbull Pequonnock Valley Bike Trail 3 days after Sandy 2012
Trumbull Pequonnock Valley Bike Trail 3 days after Sandy 2012

Pequonnock River along The Housatonic Rail Trail - Trumbull CT
Pequonnock River along The Housatonic Rail Trail - Trumbull CT
Hippies Use The Side Door
Hippies Use The Side Door

Pequonnock Valley Greenway Rail Trail traveling under Highway 25
Pequonnock Valley Greenway Rail Trail traveling under Highway 25

The Trailhead in Trumbull at Tait Road
The Trailhead in Trumbull at Tait Road

Pequonnock Valley Greenway through Spring Hill Park - Trumbull CT
Pequonnock Valley Greenway through Spring Hill Park - Trumbull CT

Community Fire Pit at Parlor Rock Park along the Pequonnock Valley Greenway
Community Fire Pit at Parlor Rock Park along the Pequonnock Valley Greenway
Housatonic Rail Trail - Pequonnock Valley Greenway Trumbull CT
Housatonic Rail Trail - Pequonnock Valley Greenway Trumbull CT