Quinnipiac River State Park
323 acres in North Haven, CT
Parking: Small lot near 10 Banton St, North Haven, CT
Trail Map Trails: 1.5 miles Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Quinnipiac River State Park is odd and a bit mysterious. The park occupies land unused for the Wilbur Cross Parkway, amidst a settlement abandoned by flooding, trailed by ex-blue blaze Quinnipiac Trail.
I headed down the gated road that starts Quinnipiac River State Park on a cold January afternoon. The road, which is an abandoned section of Banton Street, is slowly being reclaimed by nature and is covered in moss and substantial weeds in many areas even in winter. The blue blazed trail splits off to the right after just 0.1 miles and winds a bit through some wet areas to the banks of the Quinnipiac River. The river was swift flowing on my visit and the trail largely hugs the bank.
This area was clearly developed with a riverside community that started in the 1920s. There are old fences, foundations, and concrete slabs among the trees as well as piles of brick and seemingly out of place ornate steps down into the river. The start purchased the land in the 1970s and tore down the houses. I continued for about a third of mile along the trail until it started to get wet and flooded. Others who have explored it in the past have had similar experiences pushing through overgrowth in summer and jumping streams year round. I made it past the first few flooded areas and mud pits by pushing through the vegetation off the trail, but soon realized it would continue as far as I could see and turned around. The trail used to continue for another 3 miles to Toelles Road as a section of the Quinnipiac Trail, but only the first mile is maintained likely because maintaining a trail in a floodplain is difficult.
The second half of the ‘maintained’ trail was noticeably less (I only made it another .2) and the main turnaround point seems to be adjacent to where the paved roadway ends on the trail map. I followed the roadway through a small pine nursery back to the parking noting several nice newly placed benches.
Established as a state park in 1948.
The A to Z of Connecticut State Parks – Quinnipiac River State Park (2016)
Connecticut Explorer – Quinnipiac River State Park (2014)
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Last updated January 27th, 2020
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