The Shenipsit Trail
East Hampton – Stafford
About 50 miles long
The Shenipsit Trail is located in Central Connecticut and mostly follows the low ridgeline east of the Connecticut River. It runs for about 50 miles in a north-south direction. There are about 25 miles of regional Shenipsit Trails as well. The southern trailhead is in the Cobalt section of East Hampton near Great Hill and goes north to a random road in northern Stafford, just shy of the Massachusetts border. (a 2.5 mile extension was added at the northern end in 2014.)
The trail runs primarily through the Shenipsit and Meshomasic State Forests, but also utilizes other public and private land holdings. The Shenipsit Trail shares its pathway with the Airline State Park Bike Trail for about two miles between Bolton Notch and Valley Falls Park. The Shenipsit Trail is managed by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, as all these blue-blazed CT400(825) trails are.
The Shenipsit navigates through several populated suburban areas and gets a bit dicey in certain areas of Glastonbury, Manchester and Ellington. It also crosses route 2. Hikers can run across the four-lane highway or go under it… unofficially. Officially, there’s a looooong roadwalk to a bridge. Officially, I can’t tell you which route choice to make. (It also crosses I-384 and goes under I-84, but neither present a challenge or an out-of-the-way jaunt.)
The central region of the Shenipsit connects and includes trail systems in Gay City State Park in Hebron, Case Mountain Park in Manchester, and Valley Falls Park in Vernon. The Risley Pond Loop Trail in Vernon/Bolton is also included as well. Points of interest along the Shenipsit include views of Great Hill Pond, views of the Connecticut River, views of Hartford from Case Mountain Park, the Belding Wildlife Management Area in Vernon, and incredible panoramas from the Soapstone Mountain fire tower.
Let’s get started with Section 1, from East Hampton to Glastonbury!