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When complete, Connecticut’s Shoreline Greenway Trail will be a scenic 25-mile route through four quaint New England towns off Long Island Sound. From Lighthouse Point to Hammonasset Beach State Park, the trail will connect parks, schools, town centers, train stations, and hiking trails in East Haven, Branford, Guilford, and Madison. A small section of the route, just shy of a mile in Branford, is built along a former railroad bed.
Along the way, enjoy views of the water, forests, meadows, and marshes. Where possible, the trail will be surfaced with distinctive pink crushed granite from a local quarry in Stony Creek. Benches are currently available on the trail, and interpretive signage on the area’s unique history and geology, as well as bird-watching stations, are planned for the future.
Although many parts of the trail have been cleared for walking and see regular use, sections of the trail are surfaced and fully completed as outlined below from west to east.
East Haven Section
This westernmost section of the Shoreline Greenway Trail, suitable for walking and biking, winds through a heavily wooded area from the former DC Moore Elementary School to the intersection of Hoop Pole Lane and Mansfield Grove Road, a 0.3-mile journey. If entering the trail from Hoop Pole Lane, proceed slowly, as the trail descends a steep dirt hill into the forest.
Travel one block east along Pevetty Drive and the road will dead-end into a pathway that takes trail users into Farm River State Park. Within the park is another 0.6-mile section of the trail that includes two charming footbridges. Unpaved nature trails are also available in the park for further exploring.
A new 0.6-mile section of the trail opened in 2018 and extended the trail westward from Pine Orchard Road to Tabor Drive. From Pine Orchard Road, a 0.9-mile section runs parallel to an active rail line with less than 50 feet of separation at some points, demonstrating the feasibility of such closely located rail and trail facilities. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in scenery; trail goers traverse woodlands and walk or ride past community gardens.
Another 0.6-mile section, known locally as the Branford Trolley Trail, runs from Tilcon Road to Thimble Island Road and stretches between the communities of Pine Orchard and Stony Creek along a former trolley line, offering pleasant views of the Long Island Sound and Thimble Islands.
This easternmost 1.1-mile section leads travelers through Hammonasset Beach State Park with views of woodlands, marshes, and a tidal stream. This segment is one of the Shoreline Greenway Trail’s most active, and trail advocates, academic institutions, and environmental organizations utilize it to promote trail use and awareness throughout the neighboring communities.
East Haven: A parking lot is available at the corner of Hoop Pole Lane and Mansfield Grove Road. To reach the trailhead from New Haven, take I-95 N to Exit 51 for US 1. Continue on US 1/Frontage Road 1.4 miles and take a right onto Hemingway Ave. Go 1 mile south and turn left onto CT 142, which is also labeled Short Beach Road. Drive 0.7 mile and turn right onto Mansfield Grove Road. Continue 0.4 mile, then turn right onto Hoop Pole Lane. The parking lot is immediately on your left.
Branford: Parking for the Trolley Trail is offered at both ends: at Tilcon Road and off Thimble Island Road. To reach the Tilcon Road entrance from I-95, take Exit 55 for US 1 N/East Main St. Travel 0.3 mile on US 1 N, then make a right turn onto Featherbed Lane. Travel south 0.9 mile and take a left onto Damascus Road. In 0.2 mile, the road splits; veer right to get on Totoket Road. Continue on Totoket 1.1 miles, then take a left onto Tilcon Road. In 0.2 mile, the parking lot will be on your left.
To reach the Thimble Island Road entrance, from I-95 N, take Exit 56 for Leetes Island Road. Turn right onto Leetes Island Road in Branford and travel south 1.5 miles. At the three-way intersection, continue straight as the road becomes Thimble Island Road. After 0.5 mile, turn right on an undesignated street after passing Ridge Road (on the left). Continue down this street 0.1 mile to reach the parking lot. From I-95 S, take Exit 56, and turn left onto Industrial Road. In 0.3 mile turn left onto Leetes Island Road and follow the directions above.
Madison: From I-95, take Exit 62. Head south on Hammonasset Connector/CT 450. Travel 1.4 miles and make a right turn into the parking lot for Hammonasset Beach State Park.
I'm horrified at the grading and filling done in some areas in Branford and Madison for this trail! Bikeways are nice but it is not ok alter natural areas and intact forests just so people can take a bike ride! Use this money to make the roads safer for bikes. Please stop destroying natural areas for recreational biking!
The Madison section in Hammonasset State Beach Park is beautiful and well worth a visit. Park in the dedicated parking lot just east of the Park entrance on Route 1.
Views of marshes and Long Island Sound.
I can't wait for the Trail to be completed all the way to New Haven!
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