Blackledge River Greenway, Marlborough
When I searched online for places to hike in Marlborough, I came up fairly empty. I found that quite odd for a town with so much state forest. I sort of forgot about it, made my Marlborough Town Guide, and went about my business.
I was of the mind that there were essentially two places with hiking trails: the elementary school and this, the Blackledge River Greenway. And I didn’t have high hopes for either.
Now, a few months later and a lot Marlborough-wiser, I’ve found that there are a lot of trails through the Salmon River and Meshomasic State Forests in town. And oh, that the Blackledge River Greenway is pretty darn cool.
I arrived on a seasonable late November afternoon, not really knowing what to expect. There’s one of those hopeful exceedingly large parking lots that I’ve found many of these bike/walk greenway trails are bounded by. There was one other car when I drove in, so that was a good sign. I know Marlborough has grand ideas about extending this trail, and I hope they do some day. For now, the trail does unofficially extend south through the Salmon River State Forest down to route 66 if you know what you’re doing.
Officially, this is an out-and-back affair of almost 4 miles. The first third of which is a fancy stone dust trail. I think this is mostly a walking trail. Mountain bikes can easily ride it, but not street bikes. It began with a few more (tiny) ups and downs than I’d anticipated. I guess I thought this was one of those wide, paved bike/jog paths along rivers that are all over Connecticut.
This is not that – and it’s better than that. The Blackledge River is hidden in an expansive marsh at the northern trailhead, and is far enough west from the trails first mile or so as to become forgotten.
In fact, I walked behind several very large houses and was beginning to wonder if this was a backyard path or a riverine one. (And what’s up with Marlborough – every giant house had a trampoline it seemed. It’s a phenomenon among wealthy Marlborough kids.) The trail provides a couple resting benches and a couple of bridges along the stone dust way.
Then the trail turns to dirt… and is suddenly way more interesting. Sure, there are a few more nearby houses, but now the Blackledge River rips alongside and the forest makeup changes from northern hardwoods to a stand of white pines. It was fairly magical.
A little side trail took me to the river’s edge and I found myself lost in the moment. Just for a moment, but still… wasn’t expecting this scene.
I continued along the trail south, across North Parker Road. There is a hiker’s lot here which I think serves more as a hunter’s lot. South of the road crossing, the forest becomes the Salmon River State Forest. As the official trail stops here, and as it was a weekday and as I was not wearing blaze orange and as there were two pickup trucks in the lot on North Parker Road, I called the Blackledge River Greenway complete and headed back north towards my car.
Towards the northern terminus, there is an official, blazed side trail for some reason. It merely heads straight out to West Road. I did it, because I feel the need to do these things, but unless you live in Marlborough and this side trail is a shortcut home, I don’t recommend it.
It plopped me out onto the fairly busy road with no shoulder. Only to walk down it a couple hundred yards to the parking lot with my car. It does pass an old cemetery, which I think(?) is the attraction here(?) but that doesn’t make sense. Who knows. Skip the dumb side trail.
I enjoyed this trail way more than I thought I would. If you live nearby, and like to take your dog on walks in the woods or something like that, you should check it out.