Tunxis Mainline Trail: Section 1

Section 1: ATV’s = Absolutely Toxic Vehicles
Southington/Wolcott, 4.0 miles, with Rob Y

February 17, 2008

tun1t.jpgTunxis: “The point where the river bends.”

An important tribe that lived on middle Farmington river near the great bend, about where Farmington and Southington in Hartford County, CT, are now. They were subject at an early period to Sequassen, the sachem who sold Hartford to the English. They sold the greater part of their territory in 1610. By about 1700 they still had a village of 20 wigwams at Farmington, but in 1761 there were only 4 or 5 families left. — From this site.

Tunxis: Alt def. “The trail which confuses hikers and attracts all-terrain vehicles”

Vehicular traffic is strictly off-limits on Connecticut’s blue-blazed trail system, but to bored kids (and immature adults) around central Connecticut, “who cares.” Indeed. Well, I for one care a great deal what these people are doing to the trails around the state and I’m not alone. Please take the time to read the comments below for several years worth of discussion on this topic.


My friend Rob and I agreed to begin the Tunxis in winter – actually hoping for knee-deep snow. We both have nice snowshoes and looked forward all winter to using them. Alas, every substantial snow storm happened early in the work week so we never got the chance.

tun1h.jpgAs it was, Rob and I would still have a thick coating of ice to contend with at almost every step. We had both bought some simple solutions to this situation – I went with YakTrax – which turned out to be more or less useless. Do not buy them; instead, step it up to the far superior Kahtoola MicroSpikes. I don’t endorse much on CTMQ, but I strongly endorse this company’s products.

Seriously, it’s amazing what you can do in icy conditions with them. Alas, in 2008 I didn’t yet have them and as a result, I fell a couple times.

Rob and I met at the appointed spot at the appointed time and then drove for a couple minutes to the residential car spot on Panthorn Drive. CTMQ Fact: Southington was first settled in 1698 and was originally called the Village of Panthorn. I don’t know about you, but “Panthorn” is infinitely cooler than “Southington.” Part metal band, part English snobbery. “I am the MuseumQuester from the Village of Panthorn!” Yeah, that’s cool.

tun1i.jpgWhen we parked, we looked up at the near vertical wall in front of us and said, “We’ll be coming down that in a couple hours. And it’s icy.” We smiled and laughed and relished the thought… or so we pretended to do so to each other. Because we’re dudes. And we’re dumb. (This trail section is not the mainline, so that will be in a separate report.)

We drove to the on Whitman Road. We noted the hospitality of the Southington Sportsmans Association for allowing us to park in their little hiker’s lot and hit the trail.

The trail is wide in spots; wide enough for vehicles – and follows old colonial roads often. Locals seem to have taken joy in spray painting red rectangles over the blue ones. It climbs unspectacularly through deciduous forest up the eastern “wall” to the ridgeline. Only one or two other hikers had been over this path in the past week or so and there were points where Rob and I would have had great difficulty without our fake little crampon things.

I like how WE can’t cross into their land… do their bullets and arrows obey this rule as well?

This would not have been fun without our shoe attachments.

The trail turned north once on top of the ridgeline and soon came to the New Britain Reservoir. Ah yes, another reservoir! Traprock ridges and Reservoirs! The scene was actually pretty nice but the trail then became a rock covered service road along the water. This surface was decidedly not what our new footwear enjoyed, so we actually veered west and tackled two more pieces of the Tunxis Trail system: The Stonehouse and Woodtick Trails. (Again, those trails are discussed over here.)

Ice, ice, baby

This loop eventually brought us back to the reservoir and more confusing rutted roads and ATV trails. Ah yes, ATV’s… Their gouges and mud-spattered evidence were everywhere in these woods; and it made us mad. At one point, just north of the reservoir when the Tunxis veers sharply right with no warning, we missed the turnoff and crossed paths with four guys on their ATV’s. (Truth be told, they were actually fairly courteous and the first guy told us how many were behind, but he was still destroying the woods and trails.)

Various views of – and from – the reservoir

There were times that the trail blazers purposely took the Tunxis over little blips that ATV’s simply couldn’t navigate. Yet, somehow, a motocyclist had made it pretty much all the way. This two-wheeled demon must be given massive credit; the rocks, cliffs, and drops he rode over were just incredible – all on snow and ice. Rob and I agreed: We hated the guy, but were amazed by him as well. His tire tracks were an almost constant companion throughout our day.

Nice work, ATV’s!

Funny that almost all the evidence of the ATV’s (and the ATV’ers themselves) were all in Wolcott; which the Tunxis spends about half its time in along this section. Just an observation… I’m not saying anything about Wolcott vs. Southington at all.

tun1q.jpgThe only named feature along these first four miles of the Tunxis Mainline is Libby’s Lump. I don’t know who Libby was but I think the descriptor, “Lump” is apt. At 870 feet, this two minute ascent rewards hikers with… a moderate view of really-not-too-much. This is also where the Compounce Ridge Trail splits off to head east and north.

We continued north across the frozen flat plateau above the valley over totally featureless terrain. At points the trail became a 15-foot wide frozen lake with spotty blazes. It was along this half mile or so that Rob and I became a bit freaked out by some people we met.

tun1r.jpgKeep in mind the conditions were not ideal and snow/ice was forecast for that afternoon. Rob and I had special equipment to hike over all the ice and snow. We had maps and a detailed plan for our hike. WE were fine.

I’m not so sure about the group of six people in sneakers and jeans we met traveling the opposite direction. The women looked exhausted and terrified. They moved gingerly and were grabbing each tree as they slid along. Their fearless leader asked me, “Is there a trail somewhere that breaks off up ahead?”

“Um. Yeah, there are a few, actually… and it can get pretty confusing,” I told him. I was willing to help and even draw him a map, but he seemed intent on pushing forward. I never read anything in the news about them dying, so I guess they made it… but man, that group had it all wrong to say the least.

An icy expanse – see the group on the other side?

Shortly thereafter, the trail swings west, then back east skirting Compounce Mountain. And here’s my favorite part… it then simply just ends unceremoniously in the middle of the woods right near the Wolcott/Southington border. There, it turns into the Bobcat Trail with no fanfare – just a tiny sign nailed up high on a tree.

tun1f.jpgWhy? I have no idea. It doesn’t make sense to me, especially since the trail network continues north along the Compounce Ridge Trail several more miles towards the next section of Mainline trail. What’s more, the trail network immediately east of this unremarkable end of this section of mainline trail is actually really cool. There are a couple views that rival any in the state, there are waterfalls and cliffs and interesting things like old gondolas from Lake Compounce Theme park days gone by… So why does the mainline trail just sort of end in the middle of the woods?

I humbly submit to those who make such decisions to just wipe this part out of the mainline Tunxis. Call this whole section the “Compounce Trail network” and separate it from the Tunxis proper. The four southernmost miles of Tunxis mainline trail are, well, are just not necessary.

[2015 Update: I still stand by these last two paragraphs to a large degree, although I can buy that there is historic precedence to keep these miles as the true Tunxis. I think the Mainline miles are the same today as they were then, but am not totally sure. There have been changes to the other trails, owing to private property issues – mostly Lake Compounce Theme Park I think. As always, don’t rely on CTMQ for the most updated trail info, go to the source.]

Finish of Section 1 – in the middle of the woods

Continue on to Section 2

Tunxis Southington Region South Trails
Tunxis Southington Region North Trails


Mainline Section 1 Approximate Breakdown:
0.0 Miles: Parking area
0.6 Miles: Old Whitman road
1.6 Miles: Reservoir (Stonehouse trailhead)
2.2 Miles: Other end of reservoir (Woodtick trailhead)
3.1 Miles: Libby’s Lump (Compounce Ridge crossing)
4.0 Miles: End/Bobcat trailhead


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  1. says

    The ATV infestation is exactly why I promote the idea of creating ATV-only trails. There are extremely few ATV trails in the state, but there are lots of ATV riders. The result is obvious.

    Even though I do not enjoy ATV’s myself, I have realized that there should be recreational opportunities available for everyone. When we try to restrict usage without providing ample and appropriate venues, the restricted areas get abused.

    See http://www.ctxguide.com/ctxguide_234.htm for a description of the Shenipsit Trail regarding mountain bikes and ATV’s.

  2. says

    CTXGuide is right – and I should have mentioned the same. I’ll even admit that after seeing the four yahoos tear by us, I turned to Rob and said, “Y’know… I’ve never ridden an ATV nor do I want to… but it does look like fun.”

    My plan would be to let them ride to their heart’s content on all the right-of-way power line swaths, which are abundant enough. In fact, the Tunxis crossed a nice, big, giant, 100 yard wide, several mile long one that would work well.

    CT is a small state with limited forested land – especially in the middle of the state. So I get it… but when looking at the picture above of their damage, I must question their judgment.

    (Then again, you can also question my judgment and my aversion to gloves no matter the conditions.)

  3. ATVbackpacker says

    My husband and I are avid hikers, backpackers, and nature-lovers. We love hiking Connecticut’s trails. But yes, we also like to ride our ATVs on occasion. Your characterization of the ATV riders you ran across as “four idiots on their ATV’s” (though you then admit that these people were perfectly courteous) is an elitist stereotype that’s just plain off base.

    First I’d point out that when ATVers and hikers share the trails, it can be a positive and safe experience. One day my husband’s blood sugar went extremely low. At the time, I was praying an ATVer would come by to get us to safety more quickly – I feared that I was either going to have to carry him a few miles (which I’m not really capable of) or that I would have to leave him alone and hike out for help. Fortunately, we made it back before things got quite that bad, but it would’ve made me feel better had I run across someone riding an ATV. Another time, a girlfriend and I were hiking in the Wolcott area and an ATV rider stopped to warn us about a “big cat” they’d spotted on the trail we were headed down (we changed our route).

    Most importantly – as others have pointed out here – your knee-jerk anti-ATV rhetoric doesn’t resolve the issue of how we can share our public lands in ways that allow all citizens to enjoy them.

    If the concern is that ATV usage makes hiking / snowshoeing more difficult on trails that are illegally used, create a legal alternative and enforce the rules. If you want zero environmental impact on trails, obviously, you’ll have to fight against allowing use of trails by people who hike with crampons, for example, mountain bikers, horseback riders, really any humans… think about all of those dayhikers who aren’t well-versed in the “leave no trace” ethic – what they leave behind is far worse than ATV tire ruts.

    The problem is that (as other commenters here pointed out) – unlike the accommodations made for mountain bikes, horses, and other trail uses – there an NONE made in CT for people who want to enjoy the outdoors using OHV. Legally, this state was supposed to create spaces for this form of recreation and they have not done so.

    In CA, where we lived for a while, there were OHV state parks. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, where we’ve registered our ATVs in various years (state registrations are expensive and not reciprocal, so we basically decided where we would be going one year vs. another), there are some multi-use trails designated for ATVs. Supposedly, CT is working on creating appropriate spaces for law-abiding citizens to use their ATVs. This will reduce the impact on the environment and still allow people to recreate in the outdoors however they want to do so – be it hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, riding horses, or riding ATVs.

    In fact, we’ll be doing the world a favor once we give ATV riders appropriate spaces in CT – not only will they be less liable to use trails illegally, but users like my husband and I will be contributing registration fees to CT for trail maintenance / state park upkeep and – on a larger scale – will reduce the carbon footprint of our hobby since we will no longer have to trailer our ATVs several states away just to use them.

  4. says

    ATV –

    1) CTMQ is written by Steve (me) who is one of the commenters you agree with re: shared space.

    2) Riding ATV’s on CT’s blue trails is ILLEGAL.

    3) I completely disagree with you about dayhiker litter being worse than ATV damage. When I hike, I pick up the (very little) litter I come across. To undo the ATV damage in some of the pictures above would take, literally, about 20 years or more.

    4) I am an elitist.

    5) Seriously, thank you for your thoughtful comments and thanks for reading.

  5. ef rider says

    atvs are fun but not for everyone obviously. the ones that complain about them being ridden are mostly people that havent ever rode one. an atv does leave ruts on ocasion but other then the exhaust the atv leave little damage. there are people that litter trails atv or not. i totaly agree withe the general populous there needs to be spots allocated to the us of atvs in ct but the state doesnt want to concern itself with makin extra money with atv registration fee, some sort of fee to use the trails and the property taxs that are able to be made on the the atvs. the sport of atv riding is growing and connecticut could use extra tax dollars but is ignorant to the values income the sport can offer. this is mostly do to the people that hike and dont care about their neighbors/ the other half of ct that also enjoys the great outdoors but chooses to view it on an atv. i think if more people that were against atv use gave it a shot and welcomed them ct could be a better place

  6. Tom says

    The damage from ATVS in some areas has been incredible, with trails eroded 3 feet below the adjacent terrain. ATVs with their motorized wheels dig ruts. Bottom line: if you are riding an ATV on state land, water company land, utility right of ways, you are breaking the law, as none of these entities allow ATV use. If you think it’s okay for you to ride an ATV in these areas, then it must be okay for me to show up with 15 people in your yard and have a barbecue.

    With regard to traction for winter, everyone seems to start with Yak Traks, but moves away from them as they are not strong enough for extended us. Stabi-Icers with the boot strap, or Microspikes are the way to go. The price is about the same as my deductible for a visit to the emergency room. Well worth the cost of avoiding such a visit. Just be careful on rocks, as the steel tips that grip so well on ice gives the same track on rocks as dogs have on a kitchen floor.

  7. Richard says

    “Nice work ATV’s” What in the heck are you talking about? There is NOTHING there that wasn’t there before, or nothing that is NOT natural! If you do not give us areas to ride legally, you will find us riding ILLEGALLY.. Which I do NOT do because I would like to keep my ATV.

    [Quote=Strictly Dirt]
    Let’s not forget the people that move into new developments, with no regard to the area they are moving into. These are the people that call the police to complain the first time they hear that someone is riding a dirt bike and the noise annoys them. The funny thing is they moved into an area where people have been riding for years. Remember neighbor, “You moved into our neighborhood, we didn’t move into yours”.

    Also, thanks to the lawmakers and legislators who have closed our public land to offroad riding! They have gone as far as to give the D.E.P. the power to come on to your property without a warrant and issue tickets to all riders who have not registered their dirt bikes. Last time I checked this was still the United States.[/quote]

  8. Richard says

    “Oh no.. The ruts the ruts!” Well, if you give us trails that are MAINTAINED, you darn treehuggers won’t ahve to worry a out the ruts, then will you? Go to ANY MX track and look at how well they are groomed. Such as ski areas. same thing..

    I had no choice but to move back out here from New Mexico and the oppression is outrageous when it comes to ATV’s. Not many people out west complain about ATV’s. This is ridiculous!!! No wonder why many younger people like me choose to love here. Cost of living is high and there is nothing to do for recreation, and don’t give me that “Oh, just don’t ride then” crap! I suppose you would rather your children be fat, lazy and sit INSIDE all day and play stupid video games! Get out and ride a Dirt bike or a quad and tell me it is NOT a workout.. If you ride HARD for 3-4 hours, you won’t be able to walk for a couple days. Complete cardio workout.

  9. Richard says

    Here’s an idea.. Incorporate the ATV trail maintenance Fee in with the registration! Wooooooow what a great idea! Too bad it will never happen in this darn state. Maybe $20-$40. Take 2000 registered ATV’s and some volunteers, to drag a chain box behind their quads and POOF, maintained trails. *rolleyes*

  10. says

    I think Richard has a number fair points, and while I certainly can’t blame him for not following this sprawling debate over several pages here, I feel the need to tell him that I agree with most of them.

    However, some rebuttals: It is impossible not to specifically blame ATV’s and motorbikes for the damage on this particular set of trails. There is absolutely no question, and I think a few of the pictures sort of show that. Of course, there are herd paths in New Hampshire where equal damage has been caused by a combination of human traffic, fragile environment, and poor trail planning.

    Comparing the wide open spaces of NM to the 2nd most densely populated state in CT is a bit of a stretch. There is no comparison.

    Suggesting that others get outside and off their butts on a post about hiking in a section where the author describes hundreds (and ultimately thousands) of miles of hiking is a bit silly.

    As for your idea, it’s been tried. And it failed. It was a combination of not enough land, over-regulatory state officers, and other, cheaper, better alternatives in MA relatively close by. My idea has always been to allow riders to use the endless powerline cuts around the state.

    But, for the same reasons the DEP disallows it, the power companies don’t want the inevitable lawsuits from the idiots that plague our earth.

    As for now, riding on blue trails is illegal in CT.

  11. Richard says

    ^ As far as getting outside and off your butts, I’ve had someone tell me before “Well there are other options” ie: don’t ride. That’s where I got hat from. I think most who have never ridden an ATV are seriously missing out. My cousin has no interest at all in ATV’s and I let him take my quad around the yard. He got off the quad and said: “Woah, that was fun!” I had tyhe quad out for five minutes that day and someone was already complaining about me tearing up the neighbor’s yard. First of all,t he neighbor has an ATV, and second of all I was basically coasting through his driveway and onto the trail that connects the yards. I was seeing if he was home and if he would mind if I road his small loop in his back yard. He wasn’t home so I didn’t.

    THere ARE a couple of bad apples tthat ruin it for the rest of us. It was happening out west. People would camp out at red sands and leave their trash or build fires and throw their beer bottles in the fire where they melt and break. There were talks abotu shutting down Red Sands for a long time.

    And please, don’t damn a society of people because of one or two of those bad apples. I am a respectful rider who believes in the “No foot print” idea. I just like getting muddy and playing around in some pits, well away from other people. Instead of complaining next time you see an ATV in the pits, go park and watch them. Watch what they do and keep an open mind that they are having fun. (As long as they are not legitimately tearing something up) and also, we have to kick up dirt at times to turn the quads to avoid flipping over and consequently having the quad land on us. I cannot say the same for bikes, however.

  12. Richard says

    I’m not saying I want to ride the blue trails.. Although it is VERY tempting. I just didn’t like the blatant attack on ATV’s posted here so I retaliated. I just wish there were more trails available for the quads/bikes. We don’t need much.. Just a 10 mile loop. That’s enough to exhaust the average rider, and the experienced DIRT BIKE rider has an indoor track to go to.

  13. Richard says

    I’m just going to sell the quad. :( It hurts me to do so, but it is just collecting dust right now. It is the equivalent of having a Snowmobile that you have to go out of state to ride and only do so about three times a year. I gotta get out of this state.

  14. Redneck says

    Now what annoys the living crap out of me is when people complain about noise. Dirt bikes are loud. Get over it. So are lawnmowers, hot rods, and trucks. I actually really enjoy the sound of a good loud jake brake and/or a screaming turbo next to me on the highway, even in the middle of the night – It’s white noise to these ears! My neighbor throws parties until 4am in the summer. I run equipment into the night. We simply let the other do his own thing. See? It is possible to share the trails! I love how you called the quad riders “idiots.” And granted some are, but then again there are some pretty ignorant hikers too. I can’t speak for others but I slow down when I see someone, kill the engine for horses (to avoid spooking them), I never ride on public roads, or leave garbage. True motorcyclists are very curteous. I honestly think some people are just jealous that we are out having fun and they have nothing better to do than sit on their butts and complain.

    I’m not belligerant but I am also not an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination. “Carbon footprint?” Okay there are some things you just don’t do like dump your antifreeze in the river or your waste oil on the ground, but I’m going to drive trucks, ride dirt bikes, dig holes, play with tractors and have bonfires until I can’t move anymore.

    What also kills me is how durn near impossible it is to ride on a frozen lake. I’ve always wanted to do that. I have a bike like they use on the hockey rinks that’s set up for dirt and I would LOVE to go haul a$$ around a frozen plain someday. Except that people on lakes with nothing better to do will complain about power boats when they get bored. POWER BOATS! How loud is an Evinrude in the middle of the drink honestly?! Granted that bike’s engine is built TO THE MAX and is somewhere around 125 decibels on the sound meter but in the middle of winter everyone’s windows are closed so who cares?

    Go to the Thomaston Dam sometime and watch the MX guys tearing up the practice track from the top of the dam and realize they’re probably having the time of their lives!

    Long story short; Why can’t people just do their own thing, mind their own business, and let others do the same?

  15. WindInTheHair says

    I read alot from frustrated ATV owners “who want to enjoy the outdoors using OHV”. There is a feeling that their recreation is being discriminated against. I can’t speak for Connectthedots, but where I live the land in question was set aside pretty clearly for environmental reasons, habitat, reforestation and watershed protection. But as hiking, fishing and in certain locations camping and swimming (not near reservoirs)were low or no impact to the intent of the forests and parks, quiet recreation was permitted. There was never any intent of allowing motor vehicles into these areas. So when I hear folks say, you can hike but I got a right to to ride my ATV, no, you don’t. Your activities and their activities and the purpose of the set asides are completely incompatible. And 85% of Connecticut’s forest land is in PRIVATE hands. If OHV has such a low impact on property why hasn’t the private sector cashed in on this bonanza by opening up thier land for a small fee to riders? Perhaps OHV’s advocacy groups would be better off indemnifying private owners from injuries so they could provide opportunities. They have almost 5 times the land.

  16. Mike says

    I just question the author on why he thinks he has more rights to the trail as a hiker vs an atv rider. I do both and and what the atvs do to the trails does not bother anyone at all except you yuppies that did all kinds of crap when you were younger and now want everybody to conform to your moranic rules that you never followed yourselves. and i have had that opinion long before discovering the hobby . Although illegal – so is speeding not using a blinker etc etc etc. I am sure the author has done many of these things but probably couldnt care less how ignorant or inconsiderate he is or one better – how many times have you used your cell phone while driving .. so lets leave the LAw out of this conversation .. The only thing that makes the trail less desirable is garbage .
    And here is one fact that anyone with half a brain should realize . We all ( NOT JUST YOU ) pay taxes and fees for licensing and clubs , So we should all have acess to these trails including atv’s, horseback , fisherman, hunters , any one that doesnt burn or pollute and treats it like the special open space that it is .. People like you pollute my life with your garbage talk and should just stay in places like manhatan where you can hike through central park and not bother normal human beings that can think for themselves .. YOu elitest are the real losers of society . Go back to where ever you came from and leave us alone..

  17. says

    Sigh. It’s like people think I made the laws or something. How anyone can walk around the area this page is about and say that offroad vehicles, be they motorcycles or ATV’s, haven’t had a negative impact here is beyond me. Hell, it’s so beat to shit now that I don’t know why the CFPA and the landowner doesn’t just give up and let the offroaders have it.

    Hikers have more rights to the trails that hikers (often, but not always) built and maintain and blaze. Hikers have more rights to the trails that hiker organizations like the CFPA, ATC, various land trusts, etc. argued, fought and legally battled for right of ways to the land owned by private owners, water companies, electricity companies and towns. This takes money, time and effort. Just ask any ATV organization with a modicum of responsibility what it takes to get legally approved riding areas. It takes a LOT – and it takes almost just as much just to have a hiking trail.

    One reason it takes a lot is because landowners are skittish because they a) don’t want ATV’s or bikes and b) they don’t want people getting hurt on their land. Do you now understand why hikers have more rights to the hiking trails that their efforts created and maintain? In the face of the absolute destruction that ATV’s often cause?

    Since you missed the part about how I think it’s a shame that there are no real legal ATV areas in the state, and how I actually worked with an ATV organization and Northeast Utilities to allow riding on their powerline cuts (it failed because of lawyers and lawsuit fears), I won’t go into that again.

    But I will say that a) it’s funny when people call others moronic but misspell the word, b) Anyone who knows me knows I abhor cell phones and don’t even own one and have a bumper sticker that says “Get the F off your cell phone, c) why someone would advise an AT thru-hiker and life-long outdoors enthusiast to “move to manhatan (sic)” is beyond me, and d) Thanks for reading and for your input. This is a hot-button issue that should be addressed by the state.

  18. Mike says

    I 100 percent agree with you about private landowners. But anything that is state or town or utility owned . If the tax payer has and is forced to pay or in most instance subsidize ) , then he should have the right to use that property ( this includes watershed , power lines, Rail road etc ). And one thing i did forget so you dont think i write this from an iresponsible angle is that I do and I believe everyone should have Some form of liability insurance on any vehicle they drive so that if there are any real damages or injuries it will not fall on and cause more tax payer cost. And As far as land damage ( excluding any form of garbage) goes , land regenerates itself . I atv on private land that hasnt been manicured or the trails have not been taken care of at all since the beginning of any off road driving and i would dare you to say that these trail are not enjoyable for a hike or any outdoor activity .. Pollution is the only enemy . And yes i can agree sometimes i am fishing this same property and a atv or dirt bike comes by and i say to myself that, “That just ruined the quiet ” but soon he is off and the woods restores itself to its quiet self .. If everyone just does there part and carries out whatever they bring in there is room for every one .. I refer to Manhanites often when people are all to concerned with controlling every thing i do in life on what all should be public property. People from manhattan are so used to being told how to do everything that when they come away from there they bring that whole aspect of there life and they try to force it down us country folks throats … It should all be open space for all to share . Thats all i am saying .. As far as the spellin goes .. I am just makin fun ! If you would like to know a real nice area to hike email me privatly and i will give you a good general location to start from thats as nice as anywhere you can or cant ride atv’s and you will get lost in the beauty of the area and its big enough you can get lost for days if you want to

  19. Redneck says

    I read about a splendid idea on a mountain biking website last night. Trail rotation. Simply put, each type of trail use gets its own time slot. For example, mountain bikes Tuesday, dirt bikes and quads Wednesday, equestrian use Thursday, Hikers Friday. You could even do time of day, or time of year if need be. Like daddy says, to each his own.

    The only reason people would not want us to use blue trails that I can see is erosion. When you put 50+ horsepower to a knobby tire on loose ground it digs a rut. But this can be minimized as well. Perhaps a ban on motorized and equestrian traffic during mud season, or on trails that go straight up hills.

    I was hiking the blue trail (Jericho)and powerline right-of-way in Watertown yesterday and took note of the fact that as soon as you topped the hill and the trail flattened out, tire tracks were barely visible and the ground was almost intact.

    And nobody’s a moron, everyone has an opinion, but some spit it out the wrong way and just make enemies. I am an advocate for the motorcycle community and always try to be as polite as possible. But it is VERY hard sometimes.

    Food for thought…

  20. Some Dude says

    So this argument I don’t buy- a picture of an ATV trail with mud. Ok…, so that’s as bad as what, a HOUSING DEVELOPMENT or PARKING LOT?? The same people who absolutely hate ATVs often are the same who just love those brand new homes and flock to that brand new Dunkin Donuts. Trails will grow back over in a matter of months, a house’s foundation, driveway and septic will will be there indefinitely. I just don’t get it.

    Yes, idiot teenagers ruin it. They tend to ruin anything. And I don’t think that red-blooded people (teenagers or otherwise) need to calm down and go read an LL Bean catalog, they’ve got a right to feel some adrenaline and take a trail ride on their ATV if they so desire.

    Just give them some room and they’ll be perfectly happy to stay away from designated hiking trails. In Pachuag State Forest, the DEEP has quietly allowed street-legal motorcycles (dual-sport or enduro) access to a 58 mile trail loop. It’s clearly marked, well managed. Why don’t people complain about it? Because the people who use it are sane and you barely even notice they are there.

    And if people who take pictures of ATVs trails are SO concerned over that, please go take pictures of entire old farms being plowed over for housing developments as something far worse. THAT’S real, unrecoverable environmental damage. ATV trails, if managed correctly, are perfectly compatible with forestry management.

  21. Trail Hiker says

    Wait until a hiker gets killed or seriously injured by an ATV rider illegally riding the Blue Trail. It’s one thing if you are careful and considerate of one another, but that’s not the case. I have be nearly mowed down several times by reckless ATV/quad riders on the Blue Trail to the point that I don’t hike it anymore for fear of my life.

  22. Vern says

    You hike all you want, go ahead knock your self out, and people who ride atv’s please do the same. over all we have turned into a bunch of whiners. Please try to share the woods, no single group has is all.

  23. says

    ATV’s are illegal in the vast majority of woods in CT. So, no, I don’t wish to share the woods with destructive law-breakers who rarely, if ever, participate in volunteer trail building.

    That’s not whining, that’s fact.

  24. christian says

    maybe we wouldn’t annoy you and others if we had a legal place to ride in the state. some even complaint about noises but what about the damn choppers with their loud ass exhaust and yet again legal. we have the same right as everyone else.

    is like complaint on street racing but then again they close ct drags so what other choice we have illegal street race.

    Seems all you people support is the drunks which kill more and do more damage and yet again more bars are open constantly.

    you are all sick no wonder the youth is the way it is.

  25. Adam says

    maybe we wouldn’t annoy you and others if we had a legal place to ride in the state. … is like complaint on street racing but then again they close ct drags so what other choice we have illegal street race.

    Not racing is clearly out of the question, right?

  26. christian says

    well if you are the type that settle for every rule and don’t mind them taking something you enjoy doing away then maybe wouldn’t be out of the question.

    But since the laws keep prohibiting people from more and more things they enjoy then we will let them know one way or the other, or they give us a place to do it or we’ll do it illegaly.

    Sorry if you take it the wrong way, I was using it as an example.
    But as the others might have inferred if they have areas for hunting, hiking and whatever people like and enjoy than, Why can’t they designate a trail for us.

  27. Brenden says

    I hiked the last two sections of the Tunxis over the past month and it was a couple days after it rained. I noticed that the trail was very muddy and it was hard enough to walk the trail without getting muddy, dirty hiking shoes. A couple miles in, I had to walk around these huge ATV ruts because someone had to have their fun. Environmental issues aside, ATVs lead for a worse personal hiking experience.

    As far as the question, “You got your trail, where’s ours?”, I’m guessing all the people whining about no ATV trails haven’t done a thing legally to get their own riding trails. It’s just easier when nobody’s looking to go to a marked trail and use it for your own personal needs.

    I come to this site a lot. Steve is a great blogger, who is very informative. I love coming here and reading up on the trails I already hiked, as well as the ones I haven’t got to yet. Keep up the great work Steve.

  28. JRG says

    Definately a topic that get’s people heated! I’m from CA &AZ and just recently moved to MA….ran across this link when researching OHV registration. I have 5 motorcycles in my family, my daughters have been riding since they were 4 (on training wheels)…we’ve enjoyed Off Road Riding for the past 20 years as a family and hope to still do so on the east coast. There is no easy answer and there will always be extremist (teenagers or the narrow minded) that ruin it for everyone.

    CA and AZ have much more land and have come up with reasonable solutions of charging OHV Fees and putting that back into designated riding areas….and in some instances shared riding areas (tonto national forest in AZ for example)….i ride with a group of up to 20 people at times, we’re all courtious and respectful of horses, hikers, mountain bikers and we have no issues sharing the trails…we frequently stop and talk to the others and we’ve never had anything but positive experiences.

    As you can imagine, AZ get’s minimal rain, so the “ruts” or “environmental damage as stated isnt really an issue, we ride on existing trails used by all and it’s hardpack so you cant even see where the bikes have gone over….perhaps seasonal management can help in this regard on the east coast…personally, i dont see the issue as “protected land” has little meaning if it’s clear cut and built on 3 years later…

    Personal Experiences i’ve had that are just rediculous.

    Temecula California – we used to ride by the house in a great riding area that was open, then illegal…actually had a sheriff write my daughter up when she was 7 because the area was closed….for all the good it did. 6 months later they put a community college with a 2000 car parking lot on the land….bit mroe destructive than our bikes ever were.

    Prescott AZ – we ride here every summer to get out of the Phoenix Heat…great area for single track…some trails dedicated to OHV, some dedicated to hiking….i admit we rode on both (mostly because we’d get lost – no trail markings), even got a ticket from a ranger at one point…my last ride before we moved to MA, about a month ago – the whole area that was off limits to OHV has been completely destroyed/trees cut down and bulldozed – cant even find the trails anymore.

    Just two examples, but IMHO OHV’s arent the treat to the environment that societal progress is….my rear tire cant compete with a grader or asphault truck!

    For the riders out there, support your local / national clubs that help our cause, be courteous and respectful when out on the trails, participate in events like trail cleanup,….and apparently also move from CT!

    For the haters: extremeism is never a good thing, no matter the topic…forming an opinion on limited data is never a good thing….have an open mind and i think you’ll be supprised that we’re not all idiots and that if there’s a will and some consideration there are options that can facilitate everyone enjoying the outdoors in the manner they so choose.

  29. pissedrider says

    Steve, you sound like a wimpy pussy! The DEP was supposed to set aside land for atvs in the 80s yet its still in talks. Im respectful to those who respect me. I will ride any spot within reasonable distance weather it be blue trail or not solely because i have no legal spot. Im certain that im projecting the image of a wild atv ridding hooligan which im not. Im so fed up with people crying over atvs and dirtbikes, THERES NO LEGAL SPOT! Instead of crying like the girly man you are over ruts, why dont you contact the dep and ct officials and try to get riding spots set aside.

  30. says

    previous commenter:

    “I will ride any spot within reasonable distance weather it be blue trail or not solely because i have no legal spot. Im certain that im projecting the image of a wild atv ridding hooligan which im not.”

    Call me a “wimpy pussy” all you want, dude, but when you directly contradict yourself you won’t win any arguments. Then again with “weather” and “ridding,” perhaps you actually don’t know what a “hooligan” is.

  31. Jay says

    “I will ride any spot within reasonable distance weather it be blue trail or not solely because i have no legal spot. Im certain that im projecting the image of a wild atv ridding hooligan which im not. Im so fed up with people crying over atvs and dirtbikes, THERES NO LEGAL SPOT!”


    For all ATV riders that basically hold that position, understand that:

    1) You DO have the right to ride ATVs… nobody said you didn’t. (If you want proof, try this experiment: go buy 100 acres and you can ride your ATV all over the place. Nobody will stop you.)

    2) You DO NOT have the right to ride ATVs wherever you please. Similarly, and sensibly, you also can’t hunt wherever you please, land airplanes wherever you please, dump hazardous waste wherever you please or explode fireworks wherever you please. DOn’t worry ATVers: you aren’t being unfarily targeted. All sorts of things are only permitted in certain places. “Doing whatever you want, wherever and whenever you please” is NOT a right afforded to you in the United States, so please don’t complain about how this somehow “violates your rights”; it doesn’t.

    3) Nobody owes you ATVing land. Strike that silly idea from your mind and you might be a tad bit closer to people taking you seriously. Note that nobody owed/owes hikers any hiking land either. Hikers, naturalists, scientists, philanthropists and politicans (and other people that incidentally tend not to be huge fans of ATV riding) have and continue to work tirelessly to protect land and build trails and maintain habitat and raise funds to pay for all that protected land. CFPA, Audubon Society, The Nature Consevancy and probably over 100 land trusts in Connecticut cumulatively invest thousands upon thousands of hours of labor (much of it volunteer labor) and millions of dollars into these lands every year alone. It wasn’t just given to them out of the blue so that they could go off and play with it on the grounds that “we have the right to do whatever we want… America, blah blah blah”. No. They worked damn hard to raise funds, they worked hard to build trails, they work hard to preserve habitat, they work hard to lobby lawmakers, they work hard to be reputable and appeal to land owners for donations.

    4) ATV riders have the right to do everything described in #3 also… they just tend not to bother. When was the last time an ATV organization worked hard to buy and set aside land? Most. (not all, but most) would rather skip the hard work and ride illegally. They (again, most, not all) use the lack of dedicated ATV trails as an excuse, when in reality, they haven’t lifted a finger to legitimately work toward the goal of acquiring land and creating such trails. For this same reason, there’s little interest in donating land to them, there’s little interest in funding them, there’s little overall interest in supporting their hobby. If you ride illegally, you are pretty much contributing directly to the lack of legal places to ride because you are willingly and happily demonizing your own hobby in the eyes of those who you try to garner sympathy from. You are riding illegally, in places where people know very well that you are not supposed to be riding. They see you blatantly disregarding the law and misusing trails that OTHER PEOPLE work very hard to create, protect and maintain. Naturally, people will look down on your hobby for that reason, since you are being piss-poor ambassadors.

  32. Claudia Miller says

    I Googled People Against ATV’s this morning & was lead to this article. I am not surprised by some of the comments of the ATV riders. I live in Arizona where the sand is plentiful. We also have designated OHV parks – which is on beautiful desert land & in the mountains. I live right next to a designated OHV trail. Hate to admit it but I was clueless about it when I built my house. My husband tells me I am naive I am & now I have proof. Well, let me just say I guess I am an elitist but the ‘entitled’ OHV riders give the whole a bad reputation. We DO have laws and the entitled OHVers choose to ignore them, they have a beautiful park that takes them over the mountain and into the woods but they choose to use the wash as their playground and MY PRIVATE ROAD – which I pay to have maintained. I can go on and on about the damage ATV’s cause. I guess I would say to those commentor’s above how do they justify OHVers that choose to a community in addition of their designated area? The dust, noise & environmental damage is an outrage. They tear down fencing and steal no trespassing signage. AZ has gone crazy with the State’s budget so we do not have adequate officers within AZ Game & Fish or the Sheriff’s department to enforce OHV laws. My two cents – But I am with you, author of this article!

  33. Stacey E. says

    Isn’t that interesting that being against self-centered, ignorant behavior makes someone “elitist”. I guess they got that from the republican propaganda manual. Why is it that we have to cater to the lowest of society and protect their “rights” while the rest of ours are being trampled over? I live on an unpaved county road and scum from miles around consider it their own personal race track. Never mind that there are tons of forest roads nearby, they NEED to ride their asshole-mobiles down residential areas in the evening. I wouldn’t for a second believe anyone who claims they are “polite” while riding their stink machines. I tried to drive down a forest road to take my dogs hiking and so many of them were racing my way that I finally gave up and started speeding towards them, as well. If they have the right to throw up so much dirt that I can hardly see the path in front of me, they deserve the same treatment.
    As someone said before, we are not obligated to provide you resources to be a shithead. It’s typical of the sort of childish ignorance displayed by these people that we HAVE to cater to them. That they have to ride everywhere because there isn’t any “legal” places to. Here’s an idea, find something else to do with your time. Of course, that something else will be upsetting to everyone around you, because you’re a prick.

  34. Mikey says

    I find it horrifying that in one of the original posts bringing high test fishing line was mentioned. The fact that someone would think that hurting or killing someone riding an atv even crossed there mind. I enjoy the outdoors and atv riding. Most of the time with friends and family. We recently went to nh and rode. It was amazing when riding is organized. Riders were respectfull of hikers and bicyclists and vice versa. Yes there will always be idiots whether they have motorized vehicles or not, but this is everyone’s land to share. For most atv riders and hikers the goal is the same, spend the day enjoying the outdoors out on the trails. I hope someday it will be more organized and trails can be used for both or at least separated so both groups can enjoy the land that we all pay for. Unfortunately right now it is one sided and there is nowhere to enjoy atv s legally and I think that is why some atv riders are angry. Face it there are enough trails for both groups to enjoy, but unfortunately without someone organizing the trail system there is bound to be an overlap between the 2 groups. Imagine iif trails were designated for ohv use. Then hikers would not use them and vice versa. Hikers would not have to deal with trails carved out by atvs. The trails that are shown are not ruined they just are not ideal for hiking. While in nh I also noticed there was more involvement from the trail users in maintaining the trails. I think we are all in the same boat. We just need useage of the trails to be organized and maybe the perspective from both sides would be a little different.

  35. Jay says

    @Mikey: Not only is New Hampshire roughly twice as large as Connecticut, but the population density of New Hampshire is 80% more sparse. The bottom line is that the open space available for ATVing in New Hampshire is far, far more vast than what we have available here in Connecticut (just for reference, the White Mountain National Forest alone is larger than all of Connecticut’s state parks and forests combined)! Like it or not, ATVing and hiking are very different ways of enjoying the outdoors and some would argue that they aren’t particularly compatible for a number of reasons. Even responsible ATVers cannot help the fact that their machines are obnoxiously loud and, by virtue of their weight and tread, inevitably damage trails. Hikers don’t head out into the wilderness in Connecticut so that they can listen to choruses of revving engines traversing the woodlands all day long; we already have to deal with a cacophony of engines pretty much day in, day out wherever we are in this state. Folks in favor ATVs are always trying to paint this as a matter of rights: “we have the right to ride our ATVs” they say. Well, sure, that’s absolutely true, but whether or not they ought to be able to do it anywhere else besides their own private property is not an unreasonable point of discussion. Whether or not it’s suitable for state-maintained hiking trails comes down to whether or not they can share those trails with hikers without A) damaging the trails, or B) unreasonably impacting the experience of hikers. You can drop 100 hikers in different places on a trail in a 100-acre forest and each one will probably enjoy a fairly quiet, peaceful experience, almost as if they were alone there. Add in just two or three ATVers and you can bet that the ever-present whine of their engines will become a fairly unwelcome part of all 100 hiker’s experiences that day. The fact of the matter is that ATVs are among the most objectionable forms of outdoor recreation, and while ATVers may not want to listen to that, it’s a major consideration in a state as crowded as Connecticut.

  36. Steve T. says

    I am one of those who maintains CFPA trails in CT and felt compelled to respond to this. As information some of the ATV community here may have missed, there are off road riding opportunities for dirt bikes and ATVs in CT if you care to look (http://www.riderplanet-usa.com/atv/trails/connecticut_list.htm). Some of these trails are private commercial enterprises that require a fee (small enough to pay so you don’t have to maintain the tracks), some are in public lands. Some trails have issues, such as the Thomaston site where tree damage from storms has created some safety hazards. These kinds of hazards can be difficult to tackle, which a work party over time can likely eliminate. However, in discussions with many ATV enthusiasts about ATV trails, most all thought this was a State responsibility to keep the trails maintained for their enjoyment. Its not, nor I have never met one that claimed to volunteer any time to help maintain these trails.

    To respond to the statement “If the State won’t give us trails like they do hikers, we will ride where we want to”, I have the following to consider. No one “gave” hikers anything in CT. The CFPA (Connecticut Forest and Parks Association), which is a private NFP organization, predates the Appalachian Trail by nearly a decade, forming in 1929 as a means to protect and maintain a growing system of trails. Each mile of trail that has been surveyed, debated, blazed into the forests, and opened to the public has gone through a very rigorous process of acceptance of not only the location and construction standards of the trail itself, but securing private property owner and/or State permission for the trail to exist. The costs to the taxpayers for these trails is nonexistent, they are maintained by a significant number of volunteers. To claim these trails are for anyone to use because they are taxpayer funded is to claim ignorance of the issue.

    State forests and public lands are indeed open for all to use responsibly, but much like different types of public roads, lands, trails, forest tote roads, etc., have different use requirements and restrictions. Accordingly, Blue trails are managed separately and have rules of use, many of them excluding mechanized equipment (bikes, ATVs, motorcycles). If you want to know more about these rules, you can find the CFPA site on the internet.

    The CT Blue trails are put in with foot traffic in mind. Trail construction is rather detailed and must be done to standards of foot trails, which is to say they are not constructed for, nor compatible with mechanized equipment. They can be very narrow, have obstacles that will stop or damage mechanized equipment like closely spaced trees and rock walls, water bars, steep and slick inclines, and stone steps for example. The sight lines along these trails can be very short, precluding the use of mechanized equipment due to their relative speed and sudden appearance of foot traffic. Beyond this aspect, the damage done by mechanized equipment to trail treadways and surrounding ground is pretty obvious, even to the poorly sighted.

    My suggestion is, as has been suggested by others, form an NFP group and talk to, if not ally with other groups in CT that use the forests like the CFPA, Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, etc. These groups can likely be of significant help for the off road community in development of mechanical equipment trails or areas of use. Set up some maintenance work party groups and sustain that effort and most of the issues of land scarring tend to go away. This is likely the only way the off road community can effectively police itself and gain acceptance as a partner, as opposed to a threat to existing forest trails as has been stated here.

    Illegal operation of these vehicles on footpaths is not the answer, organization and pursuit of appropriate places is. Someone has to lead this effort, which takes a considerable amount of dedication and organizational horsepower to build and manage. Some say the off road community lacks this, I say its only waiting for the right five people to get going on it.

  37. says

    Theres no valid reason there is not a single atv riding area in ct open to the public. Theres actually
    plenty of state land that can be used. A bill made it to our shithead governers desk but he gave it the ol veto. Im lucky enough to have space the town turns their heads on us riding at. Fact of the matter is that were willing to pay a fee and we do deserve legal places to ride end of story

  38. Steve T says

    Entitled riders now? How about putting a group together and offering to clear, construct, maintain, and deal with the legal ramifications of allowing mechanized vehicles and the potential suits that can arise when someone is hurt? These are the stumbling blocks that are rarely discussed in the mechanized world.

    A bit less whining of entitlements and more organization with labor to completed ATV trails in areas conducive to that use would benefit the ATV community. Otherwise, the appearance of hooliganism and vandalization of public lands will remain.

  39. NE Skier says

    I live in Massachusetts near a perfect example of what can happen if ATVs are allowed onto state land. Georgetown-Rowley State Forest was previously open to OHVs on select trails where they would not cause much damage, but guess what happened. Soon there were ruts and erosion problems on many trails that were not open to motorized traffic. Because of this irresponsible use the entire forest was closed to OHVs except snowmobiles. I have found that this is the case in many areas where riders will abuse the rules and lose places to ride their machines. Now it is almost ten years after the ban has been in place and there is still a huge amount of damage throughout the forest.

    There are many people who have commented that there is nowhere in CT to ride their ATVs which is not true in any way whatsoever. I suggest that these people should do a simple online search and see what it turns up. Besides the multiple commercial riding areas there are state lands open to dirt bikes and motorcycles. There are also rough dirt roads through many state lands that are open to motorized traffic of all sorts such as Nepaug State Forest. (http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325298&deepNav_GID=1650)

    Many people have made comments concerning the long hours of work hiking organizations have put in to secure lands for hiking which is very true. I have also put in many hours building and improving trails on land which I would hate to see ruined by motorized vehicles.

    Another very important point is that people need to understand that many of these lands are protected to benefit the natural ecosystem and environment in the area. People using and enjoying these lands is a secondary concern in many of these areas. The primary concern is to keep the land in the best natural state possible. In many cases the landowner/manager will open the land to uses which do not negatively impact the environment and ecosystem such as hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming; motorized vehicle use is not often considered one of these low-impact activities.

    – Sam

  40. says

    I hear ya there guys. Routinely we’re found on our website http://www.danburytreepros.com to take down Trees in different trails so these ATVers can ride. Personally, I’m a mountain biker so I don’t answer the call, but there are many different tree removal companies that would be happy to take care of their problem, even if its on public land. Its rediculous the lengths that these ATVers will go to ride!

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