Quinnipiac Trail

24 miles

October 21, 2012 –

I’m writing this page without actually having hiked the Q Trail for the purpose of hiking the Q Trail. What I mean by that is, I hiked 5 or so miles of the most venerable of our blue trails for the purpose of completing all the trails in Sleeping Giant State Park.

And by doing so, I hiked my first section of the Quinnipiac since that is one of the Sleeping Giant Trails. Just to muck up your brain further, hiking all the marked Sleeping Giant Trails is actually one of the requirements to complete the CFPA’s CT400 Challenge, but is also required to complete the Sleeping Giant Park Association’s Giant Master Challenge.

And so, since I left the blue trail in the park to last, upon hiking it I became a Giant Master, finished the CFPA Sleeping Giant requirement and began the Quinnipiac Trail. Simple, really.

Quinnipiac is the word used by Native Americans to describe the river and the area that is now New Haven Harbor. Roughly translated, it means “long water land” referring to the extensive tidal estuary that still characterizes the southern portion of the river. The Quinnipiac River originates at the borders of New Britain and Farmington in Deadwood Swamp. The river flows southward for 38 miles to New Haven Harbor where it empties in Long Island Sound.

This trail – even before stepping foot on it – has always sort of fascinated me. And not just because it was the very first trail overseen by the CFPA (it was, in 1929), but also because I know it’s route and the first few miles are a notorious mess.

I like notorious messes sometimes and although I’ve been told and have read that those 4 miles through the Quinnipiac River State Park are nearly impossible to complete, covered with poison ivy and often underwater, I MUST hike them. Trying to figure the best time to do it is key. It simply has to be late wintertime, but also relatively dry. I’ve followed the trail from Toelles Road underneath the Wilbur Cross and looked once where it went – straight into an overgrown mess.

The Quinnipiac Trail crosses a small floodplain in Sleeping Giant State Park

But the next section after that one is Sleeping Giant State Park which is truly beautiful and impeccably well maintained. West of Sleeping Giant? Some road walks and some heretofore unexplored parks in Hamden and Cheshire, including Roaring Brook falls. Can’t wait.

At only 24 miles, the whole think can be done in a day but since I almost always hike alone, I’m not sure I could do 48 miles.

Section 1: Quinnipiac River State Park (Banton St – Hartford Tpke, North Haven)
Section 2: Sleeping Giant State Park (Hartford Tpke – Whitney Ave, Hamden)

One response to “Quinnipiac Trail”

  1. Evan Beach says:

    Thanks for the writeup– wish I had read it before I tried to go trail running on those 4 mi. south from Toelles Rd. last weekend. I was wearing shorts so got scratched up pretty bad, and couldn’t get any farther than where the gas pipeline crosses. Once everything turns green there’s definitely no way to get through. If I go back it will be in fisherman’s waders. Good luck to you!

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