Canal Trail Serves as Winter Haven for Hikers - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Canal Trail Serves as Winter Haven for Hikers

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Historic Lock 12 in Cheshire (WFSB) Historic Lock 12 in Cheshire (WFSB)
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire (WFSB) Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire (WFSB)

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. 

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail                                     

Lock 12


Hiking in the winter isn't always easy.  After being battered by constant snow storms, it's getting harder to find a trail accessible to those of us that rely only on our hiking boots.  But, those paths do exist, and the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire is one of them.

Used in the 1830s to transport goods over water, the Farmington Canal Trail now acts as a recreational footprint for bikers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts. The entire trail covers close to 84 miles spanning from Northampton, Massachusetts to New Haven - almost continuously.  In Cheshire, my focus was on a section that cuts through Lock 12 Historical Park. 

Parking on North Brooksvale Road, I set off south on the trail that was heavily packed with snow.  The path cuts through a wooded area with homes on one side and a babbling brook on the other.

The trail's popularity is quite obvious as evidenced by the well-worn traces of cross-country skis, snowshoes and footprints on the ground.  These are what I followed in hopes of gaining traction on the compacted snow.

And although not the easiest to walk on, the snow's dramatic impact on the scenery around me was breathtaking.  Draped in white, tree limbs bow to the weight of the snow, while twittering birds -- weave in and out of branches -- very much alive in this winter arena. 

I found these natural wonders are only matched by a man-made one – that of Lock 12.    It's here where a little piece of history is carved out of the Cheshire landscape.  In the park, a lock keeper's house stands watch over the once-bustling canal.  A bridge spans the waterway; and below it, restored locks appear frozen in place.

After taking a moment to drink it all in, I forged ahead on the path once again.  Soon, I was enveloped by the woods to my left and the quiet brook to my right. 

As I neared South Brooksvale Road, I passed fellow hikers and dog walkers trudging their way through the snow.  Here, the trail picks up on the other side of the road heading for the Hamden line.  But for me, it was the perfect place to turn around and head back.

My only wish….snow shoes for the trek home.

Directions: Take 1-691 W to exit 3 for CT-10.  Turn left onto CT-10 S for close to four miles.  Continue straight onto S. Main St for a little more than a mile.  Turn right onto CT-42 W (N. Brooksvale Road) for a mile.  Turn left into the parking lot.

Trail Difficulty:

Trail Distance: 2 miles (N. Brooksvale Rd to S. Brooksvale Rd and back)