Reservoir Trails Beckon Hikers in All Seasons - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Reservoir Trails Beckon Hikers in All Seasons

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Reservoir #5 seen from Yellow Trail Reservoir #5 seen from Yellow Trail

Since childhood, my love of the outdoors has always been a part of me. And as an adult, I hope to share that passion with my own children.

So, I offered this challenge to my family, to join me in exploring the hidden treasures and more popular gems Connecticut and the surrounding region have to offer. From hiking to biking to kayaking, I hope my window into the outside world inspires you to explore as well. 


West Hartford

Cold. Ice. Wind.

These are the very elements that greeted me for my morning hike at the West Hartford Reservoirs. It's what can be expected here in Connecticut. But, it's still a shock to the system when you first head out. So, bundled up in layers from head to toe, I made my way to this suburban wilderness.

Located on 3,000 acres of forest land, it shares space with the MDC water treatment facilities. There are two main sites; one centered on Reservoir 6 on the West Hartford-Bloomfield line and the other, located on Farmington Avenue, which features trails that meander around four other reservoirs.

I headed out to the latter, mentally steeling myself for the brisk walk. Surprisingly, a lot of other people had the same idea judging by the number of cars in the lot. And, why not? There are about 30 miles of roads and trails to explore here, aimed not only at hikers, but at cross-country skiers, bicyclists and joggers too.

Starting at the parking lot, I crossed the small walking bridge located at the center of the lot, before heading left. This connector parallels the fenced-in plant and dumps onto the site's two main loops; the yellow and red road trails.

From here, I continued right, making my way along the wide, paved road that leads deeper into the site.

This main road is also shared by MDC and construction vehicles, so keep in mind to stay alert.

About a half-mile in, I began to notice the gurgling water from the streams that tie two of the area's reservoirs together. Here, the land is more wooded, but during the winter months it's easy to see the lake beyond the trees.

And as I drew closer, I found the landscape just memorizing. A mini waterfall drowns out the sounds of nearby Route 4 and the pristine look of the water sheathed in ice adds a beautiful touch. The fragile ice lends itself to drama as well. A deep bellowing could be heard as water lapped under the crevices of the moving fragments. At other times, the cracking of the ice echoed across the wide span of space.

For the most part, any fellow hikers and dog walkers I encountered sailed by me, sure of their morning mission. But, with Reservoir #5 in full view, even the most veteran of visitors took a moment to breathe it all in.

As I neared the reservoir's mid-point, the road breaks off into two directions. To continue on the longer red trail, hikers need only keep straight on the path. I followed the yellow trail instead heading left over a bridge that bisects the reservoir nearly in half.

From here, there are additional off-shoots that hikers can choose from. I kept on the yellow path, which soon turned icy as it headed uphill into the woods. Tree markers made it easy to follow, but I had to tread more carefully because of the ice underfoot.

At its highest points, I found well-placed benches and picnic tables poised above scenic vistas of the reservoir and outlying areas. However, it didn't take long for the trail to quickly begin its descent and bring me back to the main road. Within minutes, the path brought me out to the lot and to my car.

And although grateful for being out of the cold, I have no regrets making the trip in the first place.

In fact, I felt more alive and invigorated because of it and wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Directions: I-84 W to Exit 39 toward CT-4/Farmington. Continue onto CT-508. Turn right onto Farmington Avenue. Parking lot is located at the MDC Water Treatment Facility and Reservoir Recreation Area at 1420 Farmington Ave.

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Trail Distance: 2 miles

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