With 6 out of 10 acres of Connecticut covered in forest finding a single track to ride your MTB is just a short pedal away. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is activitely cultivating mountain bike trails and pathways.
Below are 13 of the BEST Places to MTB in CT.
1. Mianus River State Park (A Scenic MTB Treasure)
This state park in located in-between the City of Stamford and the Town of Greenwich. This preserve is separated into three portions. 110 acres owned by the Town of Greenwich, 187 acres owned by the City of Stamford, and 94 acres which the State of California accrued from the estate of former actress Libby Holman. The namesake Mianus River flows mostly along the eastern border of the park. Although, it does run through a small portion near the middle.
Where is Mianus River State Park for MTB
Looking for the Mianus River MTB Trail Map, check out this link. http://www.friendsofmianusriverpark.org/park/mrp-trailmap.htm
The park is well maintained by both the State of Connecticut and the Friends of Mianus River Park nonprofit. The result of this effort is an extremely popular scenic destination. The mountain bike trails found at this destination are in majority of moderate difficulty. Single tracks and fire roads make up the 8 miles of mountain biking trails available at this location, although several carriage roads offer single-track offshoots to look out for.
2. Nassahegon State Forest (Wildlife Mountain Bike Destination)
Formerly designated as a portion of the Nepaug State Forest, the Nassahegon State Forest was formally recognized in 1942. The park is encompassing 1352 acres of Burlington Connecticut and is the watershed for the Burlington Trout Hatchery. This Hatchery provides hundreds of thousands of stock fish for the state’s trout stocking program every year.
The mountain biking trails at this location are around 15 total miles in distance. Moreover, a good time can be found for riders of varying skill level due to the different difficulties of the trails available. Flowy trails with both quick descents and moderate climbs can be expected if you’re planning a visit to the Nassahegon State Forest.
Where to Find Nassahegon MTB Trails
Get a Nassahegon MTB Trail Map
Get a great map and check out the latest conditions at New England Mountain Bike Associations website NEMBA.
Visitors report seeing a high number of pheasants, turkey, deer, coyote, and fox. Black bears can also be seen on occasion, although are thankfully less common to encounter along the trails. Proper information regarding what to do if you encounter any of these animals while on the trails can, and should, be received from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website. (www.ct.gov/deep}. An advisory regarding proper procedure when in the presence of black bears can be found on the homepage.
Spotlight Mountain Bike Park – Connecticut
3. Millers Pond State Park (Challenging MTB Trails)
Millers Pond State Park is comprised of the 33-acre reservoir by which the parks name has been borrowed and 250 acres of wooded land located in Durham and Haddam Connecticut. The pond was formed in the beginning of the eighteenth century when Thomas Miller constructed a dam with the goal of serving his downstream gristmill.
A popular destination for experienced mountain bikers in Connecticut, and those visiting the area, this park prides itself in being uniquely difficult. The mountain biking trails here are not particularly long but they are hard. The 5 miles of trails at this location have been built in conjunction with those in the mountain biking community and continue to be maintained and improved with mountain biking in mind.
Where to Find Millers Pond State Park
Get a Downloadable MTB Trail Map of Millers Pond
However, don’t be intimidated. Millers Pond may not be a destination for beginners, but intermediate riders will be comforted to know that most features which give these trails their difficult also have a useful ‘go-around’ option.
4. Rockland Preserve (Choose your MTB Adventure)
The Rockland Preserve is the product of over 5000 hours of dedicated volunteer work to produce a 650-acre mountain biking paradise. Unlike ever other location on this list the Rockland Preserve was created with the singular goal of developing a place for mountain bikers of all skill levels to enjoy. The preserve is owned and maintained by the town of Madison, Connecticut.
Where to Find Rockland Preserve
Check here for a Trail Map and Trail Conditions
Rockland Preserve MTB Trail Map Link: https://www.madisonct.org/DocumentCenter/View/727/Rockland-2016?bidId=
Parking can be found at three locations amongst the 25 miles of trails. The trails themselves cover the entire gamut of difficulties from beginner to double black diamond. As such, the parking locations are aligned with the difficulty of the nearest trails. The 99 Renee’s Way entrance is offered to the beginner rider, the Route 79 Lot across from Samantha Lane is given to the intermediate rider, and finally the Dead Hill Road entrance is reserved for advanced riders.
5. West Rock Ridge State Park (Ride with a view)
The land defining West Rock Ridge State Park was originally the hideout of regicide judges Edward Whalley and Gen. William Goffe. The two regicide judges feared retribution from Charles II for judging in favor of the eventual execution of his father Charles I. One of the popular trails in this park the ‘regicide trail’ honors the history of this location.
Link to West Rock Ridge Trail Map: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrockgps.pdf
Located in New Haven, Hamden, and Woodbridge, Connecticut West Rock Ridge State Park is 1,722 acres of forest just off the coast of The Long Island Sound. There are 11 miles of dirt trails which are mostly wide, flowy, and easy to ride.
Although, certain trails are not open for mountain bike use due to their thin bases along the ridge being comprised of somewhat fragile soil. The main attraction for West Rock Ridge State Park is the spectacular view that can be seen from many of the trails. It is estimated that visitors can see up to 200 square miles, from certain points on the ridge, with full view of the New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound.
6. Pequonnock River Valley State Park (The Bat Cave)
This state park, often simply referred to as the Trumbull, is a 382-acre plot of land which is bisected by the Pequonnock River. On the west side of the river a rail trail exists but the majority of the trails can be located on the eastern side of the river. Most of the trails are very technical and suited particularly for XC and freeriding. The trails themselves have a combined 15 miles of distance made up mostly from single tracks.
Pequonnock River Valley State Park MTB Map: http://www.fcnemba.org/fc-mtnbikingmaps/trumbull/index.htm
The Pequonnock River Valley was formed by moving glaciers and thus is home to many unique granite formations. In fact, the reason why this park is essentially a free riders paradise is that every trail is littered with drops ranging from a modest 2 feet all the way to a terrifying 20 feet in elevation. Additionally, much of the natural beauty of the park is derived from the larger rock formations that make up the most common attractions of the park. The locals have many names for these formations, one even being referred to as The Bat Cave.
7. Meshomasic State Forest (Connecticut’s First State Forest)
The Meshomasic State Forest is an unassuming mountain biking destination which at first glance may seem to not make sense. The forest remains completely undeveloped, lacking in any pavement or facilities. However, the Meshomasic state park I assure you is an underutilized mountain biking paradise for those who are looking for somewhere a little more remote than they might be used to.
The forest has an immense 9000 acres of total woodland which was bought in 1903 for just 105 dollars. It was the first state forest in Connecticut and the second in all of The United States. In this undeveloped landscape hides a total of 30 miles of trails, these being comprised of both single and double track trails. These trails are completely unmarked so a trail map and a good sense of direction is recommended. The trails are not very difficult although some technical portions are present.
Meshomasic State Forest MTB Trail Map: https://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/Mashamoquet.pdf
Mountain biking is not prohibited, but is discouraged, during deer season due to the forest being so secluded. Additionally, it is important to remember that cars, while infrequent, are allowed on the forests gravel roads so it is best to keep to the right of the road. Moreover, the forest has no parking lot. Visitors instead must use roadside parking while being careful to block any trail heads as emergency vehicles must still have access to these areas.
8. Case Mountain Recreational Area (Most Popular)
Bicycling Magazine names this location as the best place to mountain bike in the state of Connecticut and it’s easy to see why it would at least be a contender for that title. There is a total of 33 miles of trail which are perhaps the most well-known out of any in the state. Moreover, the larger trails are also popular amongst hikers and dog walkers. At peak hours Case Mountain’s three parking lots can be completely full! (Thankfully the trails are so extensive that it won’t feel like it)
Case Mountain MTB Trail Maps: https://images.singletracks.com/2017/01/18254_thumbnail-1024-orig.jpg
The great thing about Case Mountain, and perhaps the reason why it’s so popular, is that the trails are incredibly diverse. Cross Country or Free riders of any skill level won’t leave disappointed. Not to mention the incredible view of Hartford from the summit of the mountain itself. The only downside to case mountain, however, also comes from the fact that it is a mountain. Many of the trails suffer from runoff and inadequate drainage early in the year but usually are consistently dry by summer.
9. Bluff Point State Park (Coastal MTB Riding)
If you’re looking for coastal views while mountain biking in Connecticut then The Bluff Point State Park is really your only option. Amazingly, this state park is the only significant portion of the Connecticut coastline which has yet to be developed. In actuality the area is separated into both the State Park and the Coastal Reserve which thankfully prevents any development. In total, 800 acres of land encompass Bluff Point.
Link to Bluff Point MTB Trail Map: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/bluffpoint.pdf
The single track and double track trails in this area are known to be usually easy to ride with great flow and only some elevation changes. On occasion the trails found here will be characteristically rocky or sandy, however, due to the coastal aspect of their positioning. The main trail, which leads to the lookout, is shared by runners as well so caution is recommended.
10. Upper Paugussett State Park (Mountain Bike Surrounded by Water)
The Upper Paugussett State Forest is somewhat like a peninsula which is jutting into the meeting of the Housatonic River and Lake Lillinonah. This block, the north block, of the Paugussett State Forest is 800-acres of woodland bordered on three sides by water. There are 6 miles of marked trails at this location, although if you were to go on all of the trail you could most likely get around a 12-mile ride.
Link to the Upper Paugussett MTB Trail Map: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/pagussett.pdf
There are very technical portions of the single-track trails found along the water. The remainder of the trails can be characterized as having rough terrain with many steep inclines. Out of all of the places on this list there is more cumulative elevation change here than anywhere else. In fact, there is a total 10,500 feet of descents and 9,800 feet of climbs.
11. Pachaug State Forest (Largest State Forest with MTB Trails in Connecticut)
This state forest borrows its name from the river which flows through its core, The Pachaug River. The Pachaug State Park is the largest in The State of Connecticut as it is over 27,000 acres in size. The portion of the forest which contains the Pachaug-Great Meadow Swamp was declared a national natural landmark due to its Atlantic white cedar swamp.
Link to Pachaug Trail Map: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/pachaugmountmiserytrailmap.pdf
Extremely popular amongst the local equestrian community so much of the park will have a smell that, if your sensitive to that sort of thing, might impede your enjoyment of the trails. If not, then the forest has over 30 miles of challenging trails to be conquered. The trails are comprised of single track, double track, and farm roads. There is one single track which cuts through a pine forest that is somewhat smooth, the rest could be said to be rock infested. But, if you like that sort of technical challenge then these trails might just be your favorite.
12. West Hartford Reservoir Recreation Area (Revolutionary War Campsite)
Link to Trail Map: https://themdc.org/assets/uploads/files/Recreation/WHtrailsMapWeb_12_2013.pdf
The West Hartford Reservoir Recreational Area has six large reservoirs which populate the eastern border of the 3000 acres preserve. There are 30 miles of well maintained, paved, bike paths accompanied by a few fire roads and a single-track trail. The trails here are, in majority, easily traversed due to them being paved or at least well maintained.
During the Revolutionary War these 3000 acres were home to an encampment of Continental Army soldiers and it therefore a well-known archeological site which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
13. River Highlands State Park (Unique Topography)
River Highlands State Park is located in the town of Cromwell, Connecticut. The name of this state park hints towards the fact that there are high bluffs which overlook the banks of the Connecticut River. What its name doesn’t tell you is that this land was formed from a massive flood event that ripped through glacier deposited soil. The resulting topography is completely unique and unlike anything in Connecticut. The trails are built from the naturally shaped drainage paths which are free from rocks, but not from logs or roots.
Link to River Highlands MTB Trail Map: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/riverhighlandsmap.pdf
There are seven miles of these paths, most of which are beginner level double track trails. There are some single-track trails, however, which many riders prefer. If you’re afraid of heights then this might not be your location because the best trails are located on the bluffs which look down onto the river. Moreover, there are several narrow bridges which eventually lead to the only trail with river access (but not the only one with river views). This isn’t a park with long difficult trails with technical challenges galore, but it is a great place to have a great, and unique, mountain biking experience.
Mountain Bike Parks in Connecticut
Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort
Powder Ridge Mountain Park is a lift access mountain bikers paradise. It is also the only mountain bike (and ski resort combination) park in the state of Connecticut according to mtbparks.com. There is a total of 9 trails at this location, five of which are from Top to Bottom; four of which are located on the lower mountain. A mountain biking park, of course, costs money to ride on and even more money to use the lifts. However, it can be worth it for the tailored experience of fun and adventure that can be had year-round.
At this location you can not only mountain bike but also: ski, snowboard, snow tube, enjoy local food and drinks, and participate in unique activities. One such activity is that of the ‘dueling pianos’ show which will feature Deuce Wild. Passes here are limited so it is best to purchase tickets and/or reservations as soon as they become available.
5 Leisure Mountain Bike Trails in Connecticut
1. Mohawk Mountain State Park
There are 15 miles of easy to ride logging roads at this location with one trail that leads to the top of the mountain and back down for those who are looking for a bit of a challenge. It only takes about an hour and a half to do the entire loop so it’s not going to be an all-day outing. Not much single-track so the trails will be wide and easy to ride. Find out more – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohawk_State_Forest
2. Mansfield Hollow
18 miles of single-track trails which are smooth and have great flow. Minimal climbing and therefore no drops and little downhill.
This is a great trail for a beginner or an older rider. The Park was created by the damming of the Natchaug River by the Army. The 500-acre lake that formed has since been used for public water supply.
3. Gay City State Park
This park is not entirely beginner but has 10 miles of mostly easy to ride single-track. Inclines and declines are rare and when they show up they are not too much of a challenge. Additionally, this parks trails converge with that of Case Mountain State Park meaning that you can have pretty much any experience you feel up to the challenge for.
4. Stratton Brooke State Park
There are five miles of cross-country trails which are extremely easy to ride and look around the Stratton Brook Pond. The trail is completely flat but does have some obstacles. There are, however, slightly more difficult trails attached on either side of the pond. These trails are sandier than the flat dirt path and therefore not suited for leisure biking if that is what you are looking for.
5. Carpenter’s Falls
This trail is only three miles in length, 0.6 miles into the trail is a waterfall which the park is named after. The right side of the trail is the only one open to bikers and it leads uphill to a concrete path. The beginning is slightly rough but not overly difficult and the concrete path is, of course, a breeze.
Mountain Biking Clubs in Connecticut
Connecticut NEMBA Chapters
The New England Mountain Biking Association is by far the largest in the state and deservedly so. On their website you can find information on almost every trail on this list and many more that weren’t included.
Get the latest trail conditions, maps and find a riding buddy at: NEMBA
They strive to provide useful and up-to-date resources on every mountain biking destination in the area and help with the building of new locations. They have 27 chapters throughout greater New England and over 7,000 members. They are an educational nonprofit organization who puts on hundreds of events every year.
Single-Tracks of Rockland
This club is much smaller than any single NEMBA chapter let online the entire organization in Connecticut. However, they are more focus upon the building and maintenance of only one set of trails located in the Rockland preserve.
You won’t find a more dedicated group of MTBers than at Single Tracks of Rockland
They don’t put on many events and are mostly only local in their membership but their trails are some of the best in the state. This club and its trails are funded and owned by the city of Madison, Connecticut.