Whether you are just starting out or you’re an experienced mountain bike rider, sometimes you just want to switch things up and check out a new trail. Luckily, CT is home to some of the most diverse bike trails in all of the Northeast, making this the perfect way for you to enjoy nature, burn some calories, and make the most of your summer.
Below, we’ve pulled together a list of Connecticut’s most amazing bike trails that’ll offer you some great thrills and amazing views. To help you find the right trail for your desires (and skill levels), in addition to the information, we’ve pulled together some videos from bikers who wanted to share their rides.
1. Rockland Preserve – Madison
The 650-acre property of Rockland Preserve is home to the well-maintained trails of Madison, CT. Volunteers have donated their time building and maintaining these trails since 2012. Rockland Preserve takes great pride in the maintenance of their trails and has made it very easy for new riders to find their way around roughly 20 miles of trails.
Depending on skill level, you may want to check out a map before going out for a ride. Rockland has earned itself an intermediate rating overall for the difficulty of its trails. You can expect an elevation change of about 100 feet.
Their website is very helpful, it gives you updates on trail conditions, difficulty and even a trail map!
2. Penwood State Park – Bloomfield
Penwood State Park earns itself an advanced rating. You can expect tight trails and quick turns when you visit Penwood. With an elevation rise hovering right around 1,000 feet, it’s a battle all the way down.
According to the Connecticut Energy and Environmental Protection, the trails are “maintained in cooperation with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.” You can look forward to a clean but difficult trail on your 7-mile biking journey. Some reviewers said that all trails are clearly marked but some parts are too difficult for the average rider.
3. Cowles Park – East Granby
Cowles Park is considered an intermediate mountain bike destination. People rave about the diversity of its trails and say that all skill levels would benefit from a visit. There are awesome water views with bike bridges that carry you through the forest.
Take a swing to the power-lines, this trail opens right up into a night easy ride through the high grass. This park is easy on the legs with only 184 feet in elevation with 8 miles of trails. This would be a great place to start for the anyone just picking up the sport or even an experienced rider.
4. Pequonnock River Valley State Park – Trumbull
This 16-mile multi-use area is rated as an advanced biking destination. Most people just refer to these trails as “Trumbull”. The 15-mile loop here at the River Valley State Park consists of tight trails, awesome challenges, and hidden gems.
The difficulty of the trails combined with a rise in elevation around 1,000 feet, Trumbull promises a pretty taxing day of riding. Experienced riders say the trail has steep inclines, declines, rocks, roots, and drops. You may want to build up your riding skills before giving the Pequonnock Park a shot.
5. Thompson Dam – Thompson
Coming in with an intermediate rating, the Thompson Dam’s 10 miles of trails promises a fun day of riding. Some folks are saying that this place is generally an easy ride. There are a few spots where it could get technical so make sure to consult a trail map before heading out.
The trails are well marked so just make sure to venture out with some caution if you are worried about more challenging pieces of the trail. Most people spend a couple hours battling the roughly 400 feet rise in elevation, so pack some snacks!
6. Nepaug – New Hartford
This brutal “experts only” system of trails will keep the heart rate up. These trails have a total elevation of about 800 feet. With roughly 8 miles of narrow trails, any visitors are sure to burn a few calories.
If you can, I would recommend heading out with someone that is familiar with the trail systems. The trails are poorly marked. Even though these trails aren’t for everyone, those who can handle the difficulty, are in for a real treat. Most would have to travel far and wide for a challenge like this but it sits right in Connecticut’s backyard.
7. Case Mountain – Manchester
Case Mountain is rated as an intermediate park, perfect for people that have been on a bike a few times. The park is 640 acres with 33 miles of trails! These deeply wooded trails are pretty spacious and take you on a scenic route around lakes and over bridges.
Even though these trails aren’t the hardest ones on the list, the 100 ft elevation climb puts this mountain on the list of difficult visits. Having said that, you can really tailor your ride to what you want. If you want it to be difficult, you can make it that way by trying some of the more technical trails. It may help to go with someone who knows the trails or bring a GPS with you to make sure you can navigate the trails with ease. You can check out the map here.
8. Westwoods – Guilford
Westwood has an average trail rating of intermediate, with 30 miles of trails and an easy elevation rise of about 400 feet. You get amazing views of lakes, beautiful wooded areas, and cool features like wooden bridges.
You can tailor your ride by choosing trails that best meet your skill level. There are tons of smooth trails for the beginners and others for the more technical rider. This is another place that you might need a guide to get through or by becoming familiar with the trail map. Be careful, most trails are marked but some are neglected from any kind of trail markings. If you want a less technical ride, consider staying away from the yellow and green trail.
9. Grayville Falls Town Park – Hebron
This short but technical spot comes in at the advanced level. You can expect minimal elevation change when it comes to this park. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a challenging endeavor. The trails are narrow and have technical aspects.
This place is for people that have been on a bike a bit and have some confidence in their skills. Some people say that this has the traditional “New England rocks and roots”.
10. Wadsworth State Park – Middletown
Wadsworth Park is the best spot for beginner riders. With 5 miles of trails and minimal elevation, this is the perfect spot to build up those skills and confidence for more difficult trails down the road.
These beginner trails may have some heavier traffic compared to the other more difficult ones, so make sure to keep your eye out for other hikers and bikers. These wide scenic trails woodland journey is perfect for families and anyone building up their mountain biking skills so make sure to check out their trail map to plan your route.
11. Millers Pond – Durham
Millers Pond falls under the more advanced section because of the constant “rock garden” aspect that holds true here in Durham. There are tons of technical rock features that may cause a couple technical problems.
You can expect 5 miles of tough riding when you visit Millers Pond. With only 100 ft of elevation difference, the scattered challenges of every trail will keep you guessing, and your heart rate up.
12. Powder Ridge – Middlefield
No need to hiking your bike up every trail, at Powder Ridge the ski lifts do all the work. They convert their ski lift chairs to accommodate mountain bikes making it easy to get the rush of speeding down the trails.
Powder Ridge is an intermediate destination perfect for those already improving their skills. The trails are marked which makes it easy trying to improve throughout the day. Start on the beginner trails and slowly move up to intermediate or advanced
13. Bluff Point State Park – Groton
Bluff Point is home to about 20 miles of trails with minimal elevation challenges. This spot is right on the water making it a really awesome and scenic ride. The air off the shore makes it a must visit spot this summer.
There are tons of options for trail difficulty. You can take the scenic trail that goes right along the water. More difficult trails are home to roots, rocks, and tight turns. Even if you are the experienced rider I would encourage you to take a ride along the water on your way out of the park.
14. George C Waldo St. Park – Southbury
Waldo St. Park comes in as an intermediate park. They have 7 miles of trails with minimal elevation changes, making this a nice and easy ride for those semi-experienced riders.
The well-marked trails will keep you pointed in the right direction throughout your journey. You can be assured that there are no big drops, or hill climbs, just nice and easy riding. Watch out for other hikers along your way!
15. West Hartford Reservoir – West Hartford
The 10 miles of trails you find here in West Hartford are for all intermediate bikers. The West Hartford Reservoir is perfect for those not wanting to battle long hill climbs. With basically no change in elevation, you can practice and improve your riding skills.
People say that it might be helpful to download their map to your phone so navigating through their trails is a little bit easier.
How’d we do?
Did we miss any of your favorite trails? Feel free to let us know in the comments and we will consider adding them to our list!