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)
West Branch – Tony Bonnano (6h 29m 11s on May 13th, 2020) and Cherie Bilbie, Jillian Ellefson, Kelly Catlin, Mira Skuka (11h 31s on June 20th, 2020)
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