Number in Group: 9
Estimated distance round-trip: 2 miles
Weather: 55°F breezy, cloudy
Resources: geocaching.com (look at descriptions of caches grouped to the east of 187)
Highlights of the trip: river, some place new
I had been looking around (on-line) for a place to have our first hike of 2013. Every place I could think of, I was afraid we would end up with either icy or muddy trails. I looked at various sources for ideas, but ended up on geocaching.com looking for clusters of caches that might indicate an area with a trail system. That's how I came across Farmington River Park in the northern part of Bloomfield. The geocachers on the site mentioned that this park was little used. Certainly, I had never heard of it before and I only live a few miles away.
Farmington River Park encompasses 78 acres along the river in an area between the Tariffville Gorge and Rainbow Reservoir. There is a large sign marking the entrance to the parking area. Given how little-used this park is, the parking area is pretty large. There is a kiosk, but unfortunately no map and I have not been able to find one on-line.
We had a nice sized group show up with a couple of people we hadn't seen in awhile. We headed down the wide gravel trail out of the parking lot with the kids leading the way. Before we got too far, there was a trail going off to the left and down toward the river. It would be pretty easy to miss this trail, although once you are on it, you can see small, metal, Farmington River Park tags on the trees. We followed this trail along the river going in the direction of the Reservoir.
This area of the river is flatwater and would be a nice place to kayak. I have read that there is a put-in place on the other side of the river under the Route 187 Bridge. The take-out spot, which we noticed last year when hiking in Northwest Park is on the far side of Rainbow Reservoir. (I created a Google map showing a rough guess as to the route we hiked, the area covered by the park, and the put-in and take-out points for kayaking along the river. More information on using the river can be found on the Farmington River Watershed Assocation's website).
We kept to the trail along the river and came to an area that must be a summer hang-out. There was a rope swing over the water, a fire pit, and glass from broken beer bottles laying around.
We crossed a stream, climbed a small hill, and ended up at a large dirt area that is obviously an ATV or dirt bike track. It was pretty large and trails extended beyond it, but we decided to make this the turn-around spot. (Later, looking at Google maps, I could see we had been in an area behind Griffin Office Park). Since we weren't sure where the other trails would lead us, we returned to the parking lot on the same trail.
We had a nice walk here and met only one other person on the trail. I think he was a little surprised to see our group. The trails were only muddy or icy in a few spots. Most of the hike was on dry trails. It was nice and quiet along the river and I think it would be fun to come back and get the geocaches. I think it might be even better to do some kayaking in this area.