The Sky’s The Limit Challenge, Hike 8—Windsor Locks Canal SP

Posted By on July 10, 2016

The Sky's The Limit Challenge, Hike 8—Windsor Locks Canal SP

5.5 miles; Windsor Locks, CT

Although I now live in Connecticut, I grew up in Rhode Island, and as a Rhode Islander, I have this ingrained idea that any trip longer than about 20 minutes, you should pack a lunch. Anything over 2 hours, plan to stay overnight.

Some of the DEEP hikes are pretty far from home—definitely over 2 hours away. So my hiking partner and I decided to do 2 or 3 of the further flung challenge hikes at once on an overnight trip. And we picked, of all places, the campground at the American Legion State Forest, because, as it turns out, that hike I did less than 3 weeks ago? Actually one of the Sky’s the Limit Challenge hikes. D’OH!

Cabin

Cabin

And rather than pitching a tent, we opted for one of the 6 cabins at the campground. This turned out to be a great choice! These cabins are practically brand-new (in their 2nd year of use), comfortable and bug-free. They have 2 bedrooms. They have electricity. There’s a double-bed in the front room, along with a dining table, and 4 bunk beds in the back room. The mattresses are firm, if sort of thin, foam, covered in vinyl. And the cost was only $50 for the night, which, naturally, we split. Pretty good price for an overnight! I highly recommend them.

But before we got to the campground, we opted to do the 2nd of the 14 hikes that was labeled “easy,” Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail.

The Trail

The Trail

Yup. Pretty easy… straight and flat. The paved trail follows the towpath of the canal, and it parallels the Connecticut River. We saw lots of birds—herons, ducks, geese, swallows… unfortunately, no bald eagles, although they are quite well-established all along the river.

Tobacco Barn

Tobacco Barn

We also got a good view of one of Connecticut’s many tobacco barns. The history of tobacco in Connecticut is a long and interesting one, which I won’t recount here, but if you’re into it, you can check out this Wikipedia article. On the way out of the park we saw a field newly-planted with a crop I didn’t recognize until I realized it must be tobacco.

Nest

Nest

Speaking of birds, we also saw this cool little nest right beside the trail. And we got our official trail selfies at one of the canal locks which, I presume, Windsor Locks was named for.

Saville Dam

Saville Dam

Once we finished this quick and easy hike, we headed for the campground, and along the way stopped to sightsee at the Saville Dam which forms the Barkhamsted Reservoir—the drinking water supply for Hartford. There is no public access to the roads surrounding the reservoir, as my hubs found out when he tried to cycle there a few weeks ago. I’m guessing this lovely structure is the pump house?

West Branch of the Farmington River

West Branch of the Farmington River

Another nice feature of the cabin we were in was that there were paths down to the river which ran right behind it. Stacy braved the water and did a little wading, but I didn’t bring swim shoes. Yeah, I’ll stick with that story. No swim shoes.

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