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Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail Offers Beauty, History
So maybe you aren't looking to tackle the 50-mile Air Line multiuse trail as it winds from East Hampton to Putnam. Or even the 4.5-mile Windsor Locks Canal Trail that takes visitors from Windsor Locks to Suffield.
Beginners to the multiuse trail may be interested in the 1.3-mile Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail as it winds its way along an old railroad bed on the Cheshire/Meriden border. A new addition to the multiuse trail, the paved path was built in 2006.
The trail was built on the Meriden, Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad, a 17-mile railroad between Waterbury and Cromwell that gave Meriden manufacturers a cheaper way to reach steamboats on the Connecticut River.
Some sites to see along the way include Meriden's famous 78-foot-long Red Bridge, a structure on the National Registry of Historic Places. Also along the path are the ruins of a factory that once made bone suspender buttons for Civil War soldiers.
The trail begins at the Red Bridge and was at one time, along with Oregon Road, the main route between Meriden and Cheshire. Much of the trail passes between siltstone ridges and the banks of the Quinnipiac. The gorge, with towering walls of reddish brown, comes up quickly and is a part of the fossil-bearing Newark Terrace that is part of Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill.
According to one of four informational kiosks, the gorge is the steepest slope along the length of the river, at one point dropping from a 200-foot elevation to a 100-foot within a distance of 125 feet. Farther west, the trail runs close to the river. A long, slender island known as Boy Scout Island sits in the middle of the river.
Take I-691 to Exit 4. Turn on West Main St. and travel east to Centennial Avenue, which eventually turns into Oregon Road. The entrance to the park is at the junction of Oregon and River roads. Parking is available at Dossin Beach.
You can view Peter Marteka's videos online, along with his Nature's Path column, at www.courant.com/marteka. His column also appears in Friday's Hartford Courant.