Huntington State Park, Redding
This 1000 acre park is a gem! Great for all levels of riding, with a 10 mile system of carriage roads laced with miles of single track, utility lines, and technical double tracks. Save your breath for a few tough climbs and check your brakes before bombing down hills. The park has a variety of scenery too, lakes, glacial features, forest and field habitats, old foundations, and mica mines. The artist Anna Huntington deeded her estate to Connecticut for the park, and two of her statues, one of bears and one of wolves guard the main parking lot. Huntington is a favorite of everyone from families to riders who enjoy highly technical trails.
I'll bring you along on one of my favorite loops today. We'll start at the statues off Sunset Hill Rd. and cruise through the fields to a carriage road at the bottom. We'll take off into the single track, on the South Pond extension trail. Hang on to those handlebars as we ride over stone walls and blow downs, through a rock garden, and a few quick turns. We'll get a peek of South Pond through the trees and ride past a fish control dam, ducking back into the woods onto the South Pond trail. This trail is a nice moderate trail with a bit of spice here and there to keep everyone paying attention. I usually bring novices and beginners to this trail to experience single track riding. After a rock garden, a roller, and a few ups and downs, we'll pop out on the carriage road again and have a few minutes of mellow riding and views of the largest lake, Lake Hopewell.
Now we are in for a treat as we head back into the woods on the Rock and Roll Trail, a very challenging trail built by NEMBA. It is only a mile long, but what a mile. We'll take our time, and have do-overs. Be prepared to cross streams, ride over logs and bridges, make quick turns, and ride those rock formations. The trail traverses an incline and then becomes very tight in the mountain laurel. There's no way out, now! Don't worry, we'll wait at the end for everyone. What did you say? Do it again in the other direction? Oh, not today, want to save some energy for the Lolliop?
After a breather, we ride again, on past another lake and dam. Check out the fishermen and kayakers. Cutting into the woods, and more mountain laurel, be aware. Just when we thought it was just another trail, we ride over a roller after a blind turn and land in a small clearing. If we keep the momentum going, we can ride up the roller on the other side, through the woods to the parking lot at the end of Dodgingtown Rd.
Don't stop long, we are ready for the Burned Loops. A brush fire cleared all the undergrowth four or five years ago, leaving a section of open woods and lots of large smooth rocks. Don't get lost in here either! We'll ride around here a bit, and we'll find some real techy stuff in here but we'll know where to look. We'll ride my favorite roller, about 12 feet of smooth rock with a nice run out at the bottom. Just please stay out of the vernal pools in the spring. The frogs need the habitat.
And now we'll head over to the Lollipop Trail. Don't be fooled by the name, this trail is no Lollipop. It might have been once, but a tornado hit a few years ago, and when the trail was reopened, it was tight, curvy, with lots of ups and downs. We'll ride the ramps over the large trees and through a squeeze between rocks and stumps. If we aren't tired yet, we'll do the whole loop and if we are tired, there's a bail out through the swamp. NEMBA put in a couple of bridges across the swamp but a huge log ride is still there. Ever seen anyone do it? Neither have I.
And now to finish the ride, we'll mellow out on some double track past the tourmaline mine and back out to the fields and statues and parking lot. And did I tell you there's lots more we didn't ride today… so how about riding here tomorrow?
--Submitted by Paula Burton
For more information see the Fairfield County NEMBA Website.