Connecticut Path Heritage Trail

Connecticut Path Heritage Trail

The epic migration of Connecticut's founders along the Old Connecticut Path is part of the DNA of Connecticut. Their story is enshrined on the east face of Capitol looking out over the place the reached at the end of their long journey at Hartford, and further east to to hills they crossed to reach their promised land. While the scene shown (left) depicts the Hooker family's journey, it symbolizes the travails of the individuals and families who came to Connecticut becoming founders of Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield. In a few short years after their arrival, they formed a new order under the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut that established a government by the consent of the people foreshadowing a Constitution that defines and protects our liberties today.

Today, it is possible to travel across the towns that the founding pioneers crossed, from Thompson to Hartford, in about an hour. It is hard to grasp the challenges of their arduous journey along the Old Connecticut Path of four to five days across this land to reach their destination at Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield.


Connecticut Boy Scouts showed the way to reconnect with the experience of the Old Connecticut Path's pioneers. Their journey along the route from Boston to Hartford 75 years ago in 1944 was undertaken to commemorate the journey by walking in the footsteps of the pioneers.  Their mission was to create a memorial route for others to follow.  Scouts again led the way repeating the trek 30 years later in 1974. Later, an enthusiastic group commemorated Windsor's 350th anniversary by marching from Dorchester to Windsor along the Old Connecticut Path. 

The journeys of the Boy Scouts and the Windsor trekkers were road trips.  They followed roads from town to town that paralleled the Old Connecticut Path. The challenge today is to provide an off road experience that connects the people of our time with the experience of the pioneer journey along the Old Connecticut Path. The proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail attempts to connect the natural spaces preserved along the route of the Old Connecticut Path utilizing trails and quiet roads from Thompson to Hartford. 

Over the the months from February to June 2019, the potential route of the Connecticut Path Heritage Trail was presented on the Old Connecticut Path  Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/oldconnecticutpath/ across each of the towns from Thompson to Hartford through text, photos and maps. These have been compiled for each town in the sections below. These provide a draft guide for the proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail.  The format is modeled on use of note cards to organize a report. The cards may be revised and/or rearranged as they project moves forward.

The Connecticut Path Heritage Trail attempts to realize the mission of Connecticut's Boy Scouts on their march 75 years ago to create a memorial route so that we may follow the footsteps of Connecticut's pioneers now and in the future. The potential to realize this vision has been made possible by the commitment of the people of Connecticut to preserve the majesty of the land within: federal, state and town lands, conservation trusts,  forest preserves and private land owners. Conservation minded citizens have created the Greenways and trails along the route of the proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail. There are gaps in the proposed trail that may be closed over time through community involvement to complete the heritage trail.

Connecticut will be celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2033-2036. Looking forward, completion of the proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail could open the way to connect with the experience of the pioneer men, women and children who traveled across the wilderness to reach their promise land in Connecticut.


CONNECTICUT BOY SCOUTS MARCH THE OLD CONNECTICUT PATH

Boy Scout Pioneers on the Old Connecticut Path: 75 years ago during August 1944 a group of 17 intrepid Boy Scouts from the New Britain, CT council set out to follow the Old Connecticut Path from Cambridge to Hartford. During August 1944, a group of 17 Boy Scouts from the New Britain, CT council commemorated the 1636 pioneer journey of Rev. Thomas Hooker and the Newtown congregation from Newtown (Cambridge, MA) to Hartfrod, CT. They followed the route of the Old Connecticut Path or "Great Path". Their goal was to bring attention to the historic route followed by the pioneer founders of Hartford in 1635-1636 so that others might follow in their footsteps.


Discover the story of these Boy Scout pioneers who followed the Old Connecticut Path by clicking the link CONNECTICUT BOY SCOUTS' MARCH


THOMPSON

The Old Connecticut Path crossed a portion of Thompson, CT where a sense of wilderness remains for exploration today!

There is no finer place to begin the journey from Thompson to Hartford along a commemorative Connecticut Path Heritage Trail.

 

Visit the Thompson Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  THOMPSON


WOODSTOCK

Woodstock is the second largest town by area in Connecticut. The town is bigger than some countries! While it does not have large expanses of preserved woodland for an off road trail system across the town, it does offer scenic and historic roads dating back to the founding of the town in 1686. Portions of these ancient routes were likely built upon even earlier Native American paths in use for thousands of years.


Visit the Woodstock Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  WOODSTOCK

EASTFORD

Eastford is a crossroads town. Here the various trails and roads connecting Boston and Providence with Hartford intersect.The Old Connecticut Path is noted as a significant part of the history of Eastford.


Visit the Eastford Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  EASTFORD

ASHFORD

The Old Connecticut Path is part of the history of Ashford. The proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail connects the story of the Path with the woodland preserves along the way waiting to be explored today.


Visit the Ashford Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  ASHFORD

WILLINGTON

Starting at Moose Meadow in Ruby-Fenton Park/Conservation Land in Willington, we find the way of the Old Connecticut Path across Willington following long forgotten roads and pathways. The route through Willington passes through deep woods along deeply worn trails that show the effects of heavy travel during the early years.


Visit the Willington Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  WILLINGTON

TOLLAND

The likely route of the Old Connecticut Path crossed the town of Tolland from the Willimantic River at Nye-Holman State Forest to the Tolland-Vernon town line. Development over almost four centuries has erased most traces of the old Path. However, there are still places along the Path that connect the story of the Old Connecticut Path with the history of Tolland and Connecticut's heritage. The proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail provides a cross-town route that runs parallel with the Old Connecticut Path with some places touching the ancient trail. 


Visit the Tolland Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  TOLLAND

VERNON

Vernon offers a spectacular opportunity to experience the heritage of the Old Connecticut Path and the beauty of a trail system that connects that heritage with the land.

The likely route Old Connecticut Path ran close to the modern highway (RT30) across town from the Tolland line to Manchester. There are places where the old trail may be seen undisturbed thanks to local activism to preserve Vernon's green spaces.


Visit the Vernon Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  VERNON

MANCHESTER & EAST HARTFORD

The proposed Connecticut Path Heritage Trail follows the incredible trail system with the Hockanum River Greenway from the Tankerhoosen Greenway at Talcottville down to the Connecticut River at Hartford. The landscape of Manchester and East Hartford has been transformed over the past century. Farms and fields are now covered with homes, businesses, factories and public buildings. The pastureland of Connecticut's pioneers have been paved and built over. However, the vision of community members and hard work of volunteers preserves a green slice of the land that still connects people with the beauty of the land.


Visit the Manchester/East Hartford Connecticut Path Heritage Trail (click)  MANCHESTER & EAST HARTFORD