Our family loves biking but doesn't live in a neighborhood with sidewalks. In fact, the road is very busy and would be dangerous on two wheels. Because of that, we travel from home to bike and get out and nature and explore. It can be boring going to the same place over and over again, so, If you're like us, you might like to see Mommy Poppins' list of family friendly bike rides in and around Hartford.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a ten-foot wide, paved, multi-use trail that extends from New Haven to the Massachusetts border. A popular, kid-friendly section in Simsbury accesses the trail from the Rotary Park Playground on Iron Horse Boulevard (which happens to be a wonderful, boundless playground, making it a great combined trip). Wherever you access the trail, you will need to turn back when little legs get tired, unless you want to hitch a ride back from Massachusetts.
22 Iron Horse Boulevard, Simsbury
MDC West Hartford Reservoirs
The three-mile paved loop circles the West Hartford reservoirs through beautiful, wooded surroundings and offers both long flat stretches and small, rolling hills. A bike lane is demarcated on the main path, although not all walkers are aware of this designation and you may need to announce your approach. There are also mountain bike trails if you wish to veer from the main path and lengthen your ride. Along the way are places to stop and take in the view. There is ample parking right at the reservoir. This is a very popular destination for walkers, bikers, people pushing strollers, and (leashed) dog walkers.
1420 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford
Westlake Area Bikeway
Located in Middletown, this eight-foot wide, 2.2 mile trail is level, paved, and street-lit. A grass buffer separates it from the road. You can access the trail from Cucia park, which has ample parking, a small pond, picnic tables, and playground equipment. The trail begins on Middle Street, winds through commercial and residential areas, and ends on Westlake Drive near Route 217.
Cucia Park, Access via Smith Street at Intersection of Industrial Park Road, Middletown
Center Springs Park Trail
This 1.25 mile loop trail, paved with slight hills, begins on the northern side of the Center Springs Pond. Parking is available in the Center Springs lot. The trail passes the pavilion, portable bathrooms, and fishing docks, then follows Bigelow Brook. Complete the loop by crossing a bridge over the brook and heading left.
Center Springs Park, 39 Lodge Drive, Manchester
Windsor Locks Canal Trail
This trail has a flat, paved surface but please be cautioned that it does have steep drop-offs in places along both sides of the trail without rails and is therefore more suitable for experienced, older children. The 4.5 mile trail follows both the Connecticut River and Windsor Locks Canal, providing scenic views of both.
Canal Road (follow to end), Suffield
Stratton Brook State Park Trail
Part of the Stratton Brook State Park, the trail is very scenic and entirely wheelchair accessible. The converted rail-trail begins at the covered bridge and travels just over a mile through trees and a shaded areas. While the trail begins at the State Park, it ends on Bushy Hill Road in Simsbury and connects to the Farmington River Trail.
Stratton Brook State Park, Simsbury
Farmington River Trail
The FRT is a rail-trail runs 14.9 miles. It traverses both the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and the Stratton Brook State Park Trail. The trail is very flat and scenic but known for frequent bear sightings. This is a very popular trail and used by many.
Meadow Road in Farmington
Cheney Rail Trail
Named for the Cheney Silk Mills, this trail is a short 2.5 miles and runs on the out-of-use rail-line once used by the South Manchester Railroad. Begins at #2 Main Street (Manchester). This trail is somewhat scenic, but definitely interesting historically.
Main Street, Manchester (north-end)
Charter Oak Greenway
This is a paved, multi-use trail which is approximately 10 miles long. The trail begins in East Hartford (Forbes Street) and ends in Bolton (Porter Street). This trail does have some steep hills that children will have to persevere through and goes through residential areas. Construction on an extension of the trail began in 2015.
Forbes Street, East Hartford
CT FastTrac Multi-Use Trail
This is a brand-new trail used for bicycling between the towns of New Britain and Newington and based out of the FastTrac bus depot. It is 10-feet wide and there is a barrier between the trail and the road. A small part travels on East Street (New Britain). Due to it being a city-trail, this is not a trail for little children or those unsure of maneuvering their cycles. It is 4.4 miles long and travels between Columbus Blvd. (New Britain) and West Hill Rd. (Newington).
Columbus Blvd., New Britain
Photo credit: Windsor Locks Rail Trail
Originally Published: 10-16-2014