Nipmuck Trail

Hike the Nipmuck Trail

The Nipmuck Trail runs 41.5 miles from Mansfield to the Massachusetts border following peaceful rivers, passing overlooks and small waterfalls. The southern sections are dominated by water features and well traveled with largely easy to moderate difficulty.

The northern sections are more challenging, rugged and remote forest with lots more elevation change.

I hiked the entire trail for Connecticut Trails Weekend in June 2020.

There are currently two races that use the Nipmuck as a course.

  • Nipmuck Marathon has been running for 35+ years in the rugged northern sections and is a classic New England race (see more info here)
  • Nipmuck South Trail Race started in 2014 and is part of the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. It takes place annually in June (see more info here)

Fastest Known Time (use this link for all FKTs)

  • East Branch – Dan Grip (6h 33m 12s on July 19th, 2020)
  • West Branch – Tony Bonnano (6h 29m 11s on May 13th, 2020)

Section List

East Branch – 6.4 miles

  • Eastern Terminus — 2.3 miles — Starting in a large field this hilly section provides quiet views of Mansfield Hollow Lake
  • Mansfield Hollow — 1.7 miles — Passing through the boat launch, picnic area, and through deep woods the Nipmuck is one of the less traveled trails in this busy state park
  • Rt 89 Iron Bridges — 2.3 miles — Crossing two pony truss bridges relocated to the trail in the late 90s this section criss crosses the Fenton River
  • Cross Chaffeeville Rd and enter Fifty Foot (skip to North of the Junction below)

West Branch – 5.2 miles

  • Western Terminus — 1.9 miles — Starting behind a large rock off Puddin’ Ln this rocky and rooty beginning follows Sawmill Brook for a stretch
  • Wolf Rock — 0.6 miles — A steep uphill to a great overlook with the namesake glacial erratic perched atop the overlook
  • Cross Crane Hill Rd between houses through a short 0.2 mile rocky section that exits along someone’s side yard to cross Brown’s Rd
  • Schoolhouse Brook — 2 miles — This section cuts through a large network of trails on rocky terrain, crosses Clover Mill Rd, passes small cascades along Schoolhouse Brook, turns at Bicentennial Pond, and exits along someone’s side yard to Spring Hill Rd
  • 0.2 mile road walk along Spring Hill Rd to cross Rt. 195 and enter Fifty Foot

North of the Junction – 29.9 miles

  • Fifty Foot Cliff — 1.8 miles — The best overlook along the trail with views southeast over Mansfield Hollow the east and west branches join just past the overlook
  • Chaffeeville Silk Mill — 1.4 miles — The overgrown remains of the silk mill and bridge start this section of narrow trail along the banks of the Fenton
  • Torrey Preserve — 0.5 miles — Short section along the Fenton from the Gurleyville Gristmill Museum to the Torrey Preserve
  • Fenton Tract — 2 miles — Following a winding section of the Fenton River on remote trail in this UCONN owned property
    • Trail Notice: Temporary (since summer 2018) reroute around a meadow flooded by beaver activity
  • 0.3 mile roadwalk along Old Turnpike Rd turn left where it meets Rt.44 and walk .1 miles to cross Rt.44 at the Nipmuck roadsign
  • Talmadge Tract — 1.9 miles — Leave the Fenton River behind and exchange river views for forest, fern, and rock
  • Marsh Road — 2.7 miles — Rerouted in 2017 this long stretch passes the backside of a farm to meet old roads and Knowlton Brook before crossing Rt. 74
    • Camping area near Rt. 74
  • Natchaug State Forest: West Ashford Block — 1.2 miles — After crossing Rt. 74 enter designated “old forest” with steep slopes and dense mountain laurel
  • Natchaug State Forest: Perry Hill — 2.3 miles — Gradual terrain passes through land rebounding from a timber harvest
  • Turn right for a 0.7 mile road walk along Oakes Rd, cross Rt. 89 diagonally and head 0.2 miles down Iron Mine Ln
  • Pixie Falls — 2.1 miles — This section features old foundations, Pixie Falls, a stretch of the 400 year old Old Connecticut Path, and Ladies Room Rock
    • Camping Area just past Pixie Falls
  • Yale Forest: Eastford Road — 1.6 miles — A largely forgettable section that passes along a small ridge through alternating mountain laurel and open forest
  • Yale Forest: Boston Hollow — 4.2 miles — The most rugged stretch of the entire trail with a steep climb to a narrow vista then dense laurel, hills, and valleys
  • 0.1 mile road walk along Barlow Mill Rd
  • Yale Forest: Walker Mountain — 1.9 miles — This section heads up and up and up with a new spur trail to the Walker Mountain summit and then down through the Yale Forestry school
  • Bigelow Hollow (North Terminus) — 3.6 miles — Half hilly terrain and half along the rough yet peaceful shores of Breakneck Pond
    • Camping Area and Lean-to Shelter along Breakneck Pond

Walker Mountain

★★☆☆☆

41.975883, -72.140336

Yale Forest: Walker Mountain Connecticut Blue Blaze Trail in Ashford and Union, CT Parking: North end: Shoulder parking just east of the main entrance to Bigelow Hollow… Read more…

Wolf Rock

★★★☆☆

41.758975, -72.213081

Wolf Rock Nature Preserve Joshua’s Trust 108.3 acres in Mansfield, CT Parking: Shoulder parking near 62 Crane Hill Rd Storrs, CT Trail Map Wolf Rock’s main feature… Read more…

Talmadge Tract

★★☆☆☆

41.841828, -72.240032

Talmadge Tract / UCONN Moss Forest / Royal Knowlton Preserve Willington Town Park / Blue Blaze Nipmuck Trail 408 acres in Willington, CT Parking: Small lot near 100-,… Read more…

Nipmuck : East Terminus

★★☆☆☆

41.7519540, -72.1605640

Nipmuck Trail – East Branch Terminus CFPA Blue Blaze Nipmuck Trail 2.28 miles in Mansfield, CT Parking: Large dirt lot at 28 North Windham Road, Mansfield, CT Trail… Read more…