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Note: Per the State of Connecticut's website, the trail is open from dawn to dusk April 1–November 14. Eagle nesting activities can delay the opening of the southern trail head in Windsor Locks. Due to construction, it is anticipated the southern entrance will be closed for the entire 2018 season and hopefully reopened Spring 2019. The northern entrance in Suffield is open.
The Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail occupies a narrow strip of land between the Connecticut River and the eponymous canal. Also known as the Enfield Falls Canal, the waterway opened in 1829, allowing boats to avoid shallow water along this stretch of the adjacent river. Now operated as a state park, the paved trail replaced the towpath once used by mules and their human drivers to tow freight along the canal until the system was rendered obsolete by railroads in the mid- to late 19th century.
The trail’s isolation between two waterways, as well as its abundant vegetation, makes it the perfect place to spot wildlife. The natural beauty and tranquility, coupled with its convenience to large population centers in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, make the trail a popular destination, and you’ll likely run into scores of happy trail users no matter the day. Families, many with leashed dogs, are particularly abundant. A short segment of the route built more recently extends the trail over the CT 190 bridge to the east, providing nonmotorized access to residents of Enfield and no doubt increasing the trail’s use even more.
Begin your journey in the north at a large parking lot at the end of Canal Road in Suffield. Shortly after you start heading south, you’re forced to navigate a narrow footbridge over the canal. Carefully avoid the fishermen who are almost guaranteed to be plying their craft—indeed, you’ll often see cyclists riding down the trail with rods slung over their shoulders en route to their favorite fishing spot—and you’ll enter the comfortable shade of the official towpath.
The scenic, well-used path is a straight shot south, giving you ample opportunities to take in expansive views of the Connecticut River to your left. Do keep your eyes on the pavement, though: aggressive tree roots pushing up the asphalt can make for a bumpy ride, while the many geese who lay claim to the trail don’t like to clean up after themselves. Occasionally, you’ll spot old stonework that will remind you of the canal’s rich history.
Closer to the trail’s southern end, you’ll pass under Amtrak’s active New Haven–Springfield Line, which crosses the Connecticut River here—making the trail an ideal vantage point for railfans. Shortly thereafter, you’ll end at a nondescript parking lot and traversable gate intended to prevent cars from accessing the trail. The lot is located behind a vacant factory, one of many that once used water from the canal to power its mills after the waterway’s transportation use ceased. Continue down the paved access road behind the building to reach CT 140 and nearby civic facilities in Windsor Locks, or head back the way you came to return to your car.
To reach the northern trailhead in Suffield from I-91, take Exit 47W, then head west (right) on CT 190 toward Suffield. Shortly after you cross the Connecticut River (1.4 miles in all), turn left onto CT 159/East St. N. Next, take the first left onto Canal Road. Go 0.4 mile on Canal Road to its end at the trailhead parking lot.
To reach the southern trailhead in Windsor Locks from I-91, take Exit 42 for CT 159 toward Windsor Locks, then turn left onto S. Main St. After a little more than a mile, turn right onto CT 140/Bridge St. Take a left behind the vacant factory building, immediately after you cross the canal but before you cross the Connecticut River. The access road ends shortly thereafter at the trailhead parking lot.
As others mentioned a little bumpy from roots. Parking on south end is just beyond an old factory building. Turn down single lane road just before canal. There looks to be a gate across the trail, but there is a bike opening to the right. North end has nicer parking in a small park. Some historical info about canal in park. Trail continues north beyond park. Not sure how far it goes.
Beautiful ride along the river BUT you better have a very soft seat to absorb the rough surface!!
Pros: Clean toilets. Clean parking lot. View of the Connecticut River and bridges. Not much traffic. Cons: Bumpy trail. Geese on the trail. Goose poop covered trail. Geese will not let you go by if their goslings are with them. The smell of the canal in some locations. Water flowing on both sides of the trail (not for children).
The trail is closed from November to April for Eagle nesting! Happy for the birds. Made me bike somewhere else and find some delicious roadside turnips.
nice trail just bumpy for my bike. skinny tires, also part of it is closed because of Eagle nesting. found out after about 3/4 of my trip. happy riding
trail is a nice trail for views of the ct. river but it is bumpy. the asphalt needs replacing. Also better for walking than biking due to the short length. Part of the trail is closed for eagle nesting.
Canal trail is beautiful for its variety of scenery. It may not be perfectly paved, and since I ride a cruising bike with balloon style tires, the few "rough" spots are meaningless little bumps. I see speed bikes all the time and they move along at a good pace so I don't think bumps are really an issue. Both parking lot entrances could use a little repaving though.
Started at the south end near Rte 140. parking is up a narrow driveway with vicious speed bumps. Recommend starting at the north end. Trail is well maintained with reasonable views of the river and constant view of the canal. Interesting overlooks and birds, rabbits turtles etc. appear when you are quiet. Found wild grapes to eat and assume wild fruit are available seasonally. Lunch at the Maine State restaurant in Windsor locks, rte 140 is great, and just over the river from the South entrance. Had a great time. About 9 miles back and forth. Porta potty at north end. Family level ride.
Access from south end of the trail is blocked. Drove up to north access area and rode the trail south. paved and kinda rough; definitely not a road bike trail. Due to eagle nesting; the trail is fenced off and access blocked starting at the railroad bridge on south to Windsor Locks. Only about 1/2 of the trail is open. Signs said that part of the trail was closed until Jul 15th
I have been walking and biking this trail for years. It just opened for the season a couple of weeks ago, and there was a bit of much needed upkeep done to it before opening, whether pruning back some of the bushes that had started encroaching on the trail, or fixing some of the crumbling parts of the roadway, and it even looks like a trail down to the water for fishermen and women near the northern entrance has been added. It has beautiful views, though sometimes the southern end is closed due to the bald eagles nesting. Depending on time of day, there can be little to no shade over the trail itself, despite all of the trees, so do not forget your sunscreen!
Trail is fun but rough, areas are tilted towards the canal side. Needs to be repaved
The trail is kind of pretty, really short.
The south entrance should be avoided unless you are in a suv with great ground clearance. My camry bottomed out and had a hole put in my exhaust that costed two hundred bucks to repair.
Expensive bike ride that didn't even last an hour.
Not only does the road leading to the southern entrance need repair, the path is all cracked and uneven.
I would rather they close the southern entrance than let people like me damage their vehicle.
I walk this trail several times a week. It is open from April 1 to November 14. However, over the last few years eagles have nested in the south end of the park, and the southernmost mile has been closed off until July.
The trail is 4.25 miles from gate to gate. It might be 4.5 miles from the far end of the Suffield lot.
The parking lot on the north end is spacious. The one on the south side is adequate, but the road leading to it is in disgraceful condition (as of August 2014).
The trail is asphalt that is cracked in many places. Nevertheless bike traffic equals pedestrian traffic. Volunteers do a good job of keeping the path free from debris.
By summertime the foliage is so dense that the views are minimal. In April or May you might see a beaver or two. Otherwise, you can expect to see rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and all kinds of birds. The variety of flora is unmatched in CT. Fishermen are common on both banks, in boats, and on King's island.
The trail is almost perfectly flat and straight, and the mileage is marked in paint from both ends. Most markings are fairly accurate.
The parking area in Suffield was clean and safe, although I was disappointed that the trail abruptly stopped, I found it wonderful. There is such history in this area... it is so worth exploring!
I wanted to run the trail on the 31st of December only to get there and find its closed until April 1st!
took ride today, the asphalt is in need of repair, rough riding for bikes, many rots lifting the pavement and cracks but nice trail for walking
This is a wonderful trail - enough for a nice hour long ride. Lots of people out birdwatching, biking and walking. It's really neat having two very different bodies of water on both sides of you. The road wasn't butter-smooth, but I was able to keep up a nice pace.
The trail was well-maintained, scenic and easy to ride. The canal is on one side of the trail and the CT River is through the trees on the other. We met the town historian at the lock, and got a nice history of the area and the canal. Well worth the time and effort!
This is one of the most scenic trails I've been on around here. It's got the canal on one side and the river on the other. There's a whole bunch of photo ops, I always take my camera with me on this ride. The canal has a lot of fallen trees, so the reflections in the water are striking. There's a few bumps, but its not horrible. The Windsor Locks end has a entry road in that's in bad shape, go slow on it. O.
The Windsor Locks Canal trail is a beautifully maintained bike trail. It features some great views and excellent opportunities for viewing river wildlife. The only problem I had with it was that despite the fact that it's paved, it is a tad bit bumpy. Overall, a great bike trail with easy access to main roads.
The trail is re-opened, and it's pretty phenomenal. We biked from the Windsor Locks end yesterday, and had perfect weather for such an event. It'swater on both sides...definitely worth the trip. It's a short trail, but has active train bridges overhead, and beautiful scenery! A must-do for certain. A great place for nature photography and a nice quiet ride.
Why is the Canal bike path still closed? Why was it closed to begin with? Because of the nesting eagles? WHy? Noise from people biking; from bird watchers? What about the VERY LOUD trains that go by the path more than several times per day? I have biked that path seven days per week for many months in a row and there are absolutely no loud sounds or other disturbances about. Is it that eagle gawkers would swarm the area? DEP, please open the trail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
May 3, 2011 Windsor Locks side is closed you can go to the Suffield side.
We could only go 2 miles in the direction of Windsor Locks. Temporary gate preventing people to go any farther. The southern portion of the Windsor Locks Canal Trail is closed until July 1 because a pair of nesting bald eagles has taken up residence there.
"Bald eagles are a threatened species in Connecticut according to Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Dan Esty, the trail will be closed until the young eagles can fly or the nest fails. If either event occurs before July 1 the trail will open earlier, according to a press release from the DEP."
“Disturbance can cause the adult eagles to abandon their nest, causing the eggs or chicks to die,” Esty said in the press release.
Does anyone know what the exact date is for this trail to open?
Decided to try out the WL Canal Trail today on the last weekend before closing. The trail is closed the trail to protect nesting birds over the winter. This trail had very light use today and with the canal on one side and the fiver on the other provided some peaceful riding and solitude. Scenery was very nice with the contrasting waters on either side and late fall foliage adding color. The trail itself is narrower and surface is a little rougher than the Farmington Canal and rode a bit slower. Nice river views the whole way and plenty of birds and squirrels gathering food for the winter. I caught the train passing over the trestle as I rode by, not a usual sight on most trails. Glad I tried this trail, it was a nice change.
They finally removed the closed for construction signs and cones on the Bridge crossing from Enfield Perl St to RT 159 in Suffield (end of June 2010). They still have the short connecting path down under the bridge to the Windsor Locks Canal path closed, but have ignored the signs and it is passable if you are willing to risk being caught. Alternately you can go out to 159 then back down canal road (much scarier with all the traffic).
I rode this trail last week and let me say, it was very nice. A little bumpy at times but the 4.5 miles feels like 10. It parallels the canal and then eventually winds up on the main road, Rt 5 and ends at a private property's driveway. Lots of folks on this trail on a weekday afternoon.
At the parking lot, they were doing construction under the 190 bridge and locals told me they were extending it a bit.
On the northern edge of the bridge for peds and cyclists, they have finally added a bike/ped walkway from Enfield to Windsor Locks. Should make for a much safer crossing.
Biked from windsor up almost to the North end today with my grandson. This trail is not for young children unless you caution them and keep a close eye on them. No rails and a very steep drop to the river. I was impressed with the aquaduct over the Farmington River and the views of the Conn. River. as soon as the leaves fall this will be even more spectacular.
"It seems it's about time the State of Connecticut repaved this trail. I was out the other day and it was quite bumpy and rough.
And as it is mentioned under the ""Seasonal Restrictions"" section for this trail, the Towpath is closed to all uses from mid-November until early April of each year. This is to protect the nesting habitat for endangered birds of prey."
Trail is now paved. There are some nice views of the Connecticut River on one side and the canal on the other. There's also some wildlife to see -- lots of turtles and birds. I saw some fisherman on the canal that hooked a few fish too.
This trail has been renovated and is now a smooth ride that includes travel over an aquaduct.
"A good place for kids bikes, not so great fo blades. Nice view of CT. River and fishing along the canal. Not so easy to find without a map. Large dirt parking lot, no facilities, but stores can be found at the southern end after crossing the Bridge. Trail end near some factories, follow road to rt 140 turn left over bridge to store 1/4 mile away"
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