5 Best Mountain Bike Rides in Connecticut

connecticut mtb

Nicknamed the “Nutmeg State,” Connecticut is the southernmost state in the United States’ New England region, and one of three states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) that make up the “Tri-State area.”  It is also a great place for mountain biking, as the state features a magnificent system of state parks, forests and waterways, all of which offer a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities.

To help you get better acquainted with the many mountain biking spots in Connecticut, below we have featured five of the state’s most popular and well-ridden trails. 

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Rockland Preserve

Located in the Connecticut city of Madison, Rockland Preserve features a series of purpose-built mountain biking trails, all created by local volunteers.  These taxing trails, which flow through roughly 250 feet of elevation change, are marked by a series of technical challenges, including banks, log rides, jumps and rock drop-offs.  A number of Rockland Preserve’s log rides can only be described as “works of art,” with an integrated chain saw design along the top of the ridge.

While the Rockland Preserve’s mountain biking trails are intended for every level of cycling enthusiast, there are a number of marked routes designed specifically for the most expert riders, including free-style riders looking to experiment with new tricks. Marked blue arrows on the trees direct riders through 7 miles of scenic terrain at the Rockland Preserve, and soon volunteers are scheduled to add a new segment that will increase both the trail length and their interconnectivity.

Collis P. Huntington State Park (Bethel)

Collis P. Huntington State Park (Huntington State Park) is located in the town of Bethel, just outside the larger city of Redding, Connecticut.  The park is a wonderful locale for mountain biking, featuring a unique mixture of trails that accommodate all levels of riders.  Whether you prefer a lazy, scenic trail for a family ride, or a thrill-seeking, hard-climbing challenge, Huntington State Park is definitely for you.

Huntington State Park is characterized by a series of dual track trails—the internal carriage roads—that tie all the single tracks together, but if you prefer, you can always ride more than three quarters of the park on single track alone. The park’s single-track choices, which include names like the Rock’n’Roll Trail, the Twister Trail, and the Big Burn, are very challenging, with tight and twisty turns, steep climbs, and drop-offs that are littered with roots, rocks and logs.

The park has a variety of scenery too, including glittering lakes, glacially carved terrain, the flora of both forest and field and, for the historically minded, even old foundations and mica mines. Parking is also a breeze at Huntington State Park.

Millers Pond

Located in the town of Durham, Connecticut, Millers Pond State Park offers some of the best technical mountain bike riding in the state, with plenty of log rides, challenging uphill climbs and superb off-road riding. Millers Pond is very popular among riders looking for free-ride-type drops, jumps and stunts, all of which are well-constructed and meet legal standards. 

The recently completed Red Trail at Millers Pond State Park is especially popular among riders. The trail has two distinctive sections: the northern trail section, which departs directly from the parking area; and the southern trail section, which is accessed off a dirt road just inside the park’s gate. Red Trail’s northern section is a cross country oriented track, with rapid, flowing turns and several protracted climbs in either direction. Although definitely a cross country ride, there are still ample opportunities to drop, jump, and perfect tricks on this gem of a trail. The average rider can typically complete the northern section in approximately one hour.

The southern section of the Red Trail is a complete free-ride track, characterized by twisting, rocky climbs, log rides, drop-offs, and hucks, all occurring in rapid succession. It will take the average rider about 90 minutes to complete this section of the trail—a section that should not be ridden alone due to its difficulty rating.

Penwood State Park

Penwood State Park—a popular Connecticut hill-top destination—offers mountain bike enthusiasts a broad system of trails and some of the most gorgeous views of the Farmington River Valley below.

The main trail at Penwood State Park forms an 8.5 mile loop through a breath-taking forest setting. The ride, which the park has rated as moderate, includes a number of challenging climbs, drop-offs and demanding obstacles.

Penwood State Park encompasses nearly 800 acres of land and is situated on the majestic Talcott Mountain in the town of Bloomfield.  The park borders the north end of Talcott Mountain State Park, and its main mountain bike route, the Metacomet Trail, runs the entire length of the park. In addition to its mountain biking trails, the park also offers picnic areas and a variety of hiking trails.

Case Mountain (Manchester)

Situated in the town of Manchester, Connecticut, Case Mountain provides several fun and challenging mountain biking trails.  The main trail, which begins at the base of Birch Mountain, begins with a strenuous one-mile climb, during which riders will intersect the Blue Dot Trail.  At the summit of the main trail, before beginning the obstacle-laden descent, riders will be treated to a fantastic view of the Hartford skyline and the entire Connecticut River Valley—a view that is especially spectacular at sunset.

Although not the most demanding mountain biking setting in Connecticut, Case Mountain may be the most beautiful ride in the state.

image credit: http://ctnemba.blogspot.com/

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