In our last post we talked about what you need to get started on the trails, now let’s talk about where to go. Luckily, the state of Connecticut is small enough that a good run (or hike if the heat has you feeling less speedy) is at maximum a two hour drive away. With state and town parks, a plethora of land trusts, and unique geography that can challenge all level trail runners, we’ve put together a little taste of some of our favorite places to off-road (in no particular order or ranking, of course).
In no particular order or ranking, please accept our quick and dirty offering of places to check out:
Our staff at Sound Runner Glastonbury head out to the trails at Gay City State Park Tuesday nights at 6:30 pm, through August 30. The park has a fairly large network of trails, so runners can really tailor their workouts and distances. The terrain is fairly advanced, covered in rocks, roots, and river crossings. Staffer Andrew Judd says, “My favorite path to run is the 6 mile "red loop", but there are side paths roughly every mile to change up the routes and paths. It is a diverse area that is hard to get (too) lost in; be sure to bring your strong ankles.” Find more information here.
About a mile from our Branford store runners can find the Branford Supply Pond, a rolling double track loop with good footing around the pond itself, and more technical single track offshoots. The Supply Pond is dog-friendly, so feel free to have your four-legged best friend tag along – while leashes are suggest most people don’t use them (if you want to learn about hands-free leash alternatives, stop by one of our locations and ask us about Stunt Puppy). That being said, due to its popularity with dogs and humans alike, it’s probably best to make sure that your pup is friendly and sociable before heading out there. Other favorite routes at this location include an out-and-back to the Queach Preserves, or connecting to the Regional Water Company property -- though no dogs are allowed on the latter. Find more information here.
For those looking for a challenge, or just want to really test how their legs handle an up-hill gradient, head over to the Mattabesett Trailhead off Rt. 77 in Guilford. There are three marked trails through this Guilford Land Trust property; at this particular trailhead hikers and runners have the choice between a direct-but-strenuous hill that feels more like a ladder to be clawed up hand and foot, and a longer, gentler, meandering path to access the trail. Find more information here.
Looking for beginner trails? Look no further than the Old Saybrook Town Park. Located off of School House these are a favorite with our Old Saybrook location’s trail running group. The trails are good for runners of all abilities, including flat portions, some long inclines, and a few more technical sections. The individual loops are short, but it is still easy to spend an hour exploring them. Join us at at the Clark Community Park entrance on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm through the end of the summer.
Located on Rt. 80 in Killingworth between the Madison and Killingworth traffic circles Chatfield Hollow offers a mixture of road and trails for all abilities. Featuring nine trails as well as connections to the Cockaponset State Forest system, runners can do anything from enjoying the woodland surroundings while keeping to the even footing of a road, to testing their technical abilities, and everything in between. Find more information here.
Our Old Saybrook Manager Chris recommends this trail system, saying: “My favorite long trail run starts from Reservoir 6 and goes to the top of Talcott Mountain following the Metacomet trail. Because of all of the parallel trails and offshoots, it’s possible to get about 16 miles out of this system, as well as take advantage of one of the best views to be found in the center of the state. Some portions can be fairly rocky and technical. The trail up to Heublein Tower is a tough climb for beginners, but totally worth the effort for the view.” Find more information here.
According to Sound Runner staffer Christy, the Canfield Woods trails in Essex are a must-run, with challenging, well-marked and -maintained trails and a good amount of people without being crowded. The preserve itself boasts over 300 acres and 17 trails with varied terrain through old and new growth forest. Find more information here.
While there aren’t too many trails close enough to our Fairfield location for them to plan a trail series, our Fairfield manager Eileen recommends the Saugatuck Trail located in the Centennial Watershed State Forest. The blue-blazed trail takes runners, walkers, and hikers about 10 miles around the Saugatuck reservoir and has some challenges in the form of rocks and roots. It was also recently featured as Competitor Magazine’s Trail of the Week. You can find more information about this trail system and state forest here.
As mentioned before, this is only a small taste of what Connecticut has to offer in terms of trails. If you don’t see your favorite on the list, please stop by and tell us about it. Conversely, if you’ve already been to all of these and are looking for something new, check out www.ctwoodlands.org for an interactive map and updates on all of the blue-blazed trails in the state, or the Connecticut State Parks and Forests page, which lists all state properties, locations, hours, and approved activities.