1. RAILS-TO-TRAILS: HOP RIVER LINEAR PARK TRAIL
This popular, multi-use trail is the 5.1-mile Vernon segment of the Hop River Linear Park Trail that runs 21 miles from Manchester to Willimantic. It also connects to the 40-mile Air Line Trail. Biking, hiking, jogging, walking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding are allowed. Parking is available at Church St., Valley Falls Park and Tunnel Rd.
Trail Feature – The Vernon Depot Outdoor Railroad Museum at Church St.
2. RAILS-TO-TRAILS: ROCKVILLE SPUR
This multi-use greenway is a 4.1-miles spur of the Hop River Linear Park Trail. It runs from Church Street to Rockville.
Distinctive wall murals by graffiti artists are visible on the I-84 underpass. This popular trail is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
Trail Feature – Foot bridge across the Tankerhoosen River.
3. HOCKANUM RIVER LINEAR PARK
This linear park runs along the entire length of the Hockanum River, from the Connecticut River in East Hartford, through Manchester and Vernon, to Ellington. In Vernon it connects to the Manchester trail in Talcottville, and to the Ellington trail on Windsorville Road. The 4.0-mile Dart Hill Trail features historic signs, scenic rest areas and picnic benches. Trail access and parking are available at Pleasant View Dr, Trail Run, Dart Hill Rd, and Windsorville Rd.
Trail Features – (1) Boardwalk trail through the marsh at Pleasant View Dr; (2) the Dave Smith Suspended Bridge & Park, Windsorville Rd, (3) Dart Hill Park, a 17-acre site on the river with playscape, picnic areas, exercise trail and gazebo.
4. ROCKVILLE HERITAGE PARK
This 1.5 mile urban walking trail has 7 interpretive signs highlighting Rockville’s historic buildings. The trail begins at East Main & Grove Street corner and ends at Saxony Park on West Street. Park at the Gene Pitney Memorial Park, 19 Grove Street.
Trail Feature – Dog park, picnic area and short river trail loop at Saxony Park.
5. BELDING WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
This beautiful 280-acre, state-owned site has miles of trails through woods and fields. It is part of a 2000-acre protective greenway along the Tankerhoosen River, and is known as a birding hotspot. Visit www.ct.gov/deep/belding.
6. BRAILLE TRAIL AT VALLEY FALLS
Seventeen Braille signs along a brook and amidst mill ruins describe the history and natural features of the area. An all-volunteer project, the trail was originally built as an Eagle Scout project, Vernon Troop 223. The trail was later upgraded with grant funds from the Friends of Valley Falls and the Vernon Greenway Volunteers.
7. STICKNEY HILL TRAIL
Located in Rockville, this is a 15.9-acre site owned by the Manchester Land Conservation Trust featuring a scenic overlook of Shenipsit Lake. It is accessed from Pleasant St. Park here, or walk 1/3 mile via Ann St from Gene Pitney Memorial Park. www.manchesterlandtrust.org/flyers/StickneyHillHikeTrailMap.pdf
8. VERNON CENTER MIDDLE SCHOOL TRAIL
This site has 1.9 miles of blazed trails through woods, over hills and around a pond. It also has community gardens and a popular 18-hole disc golf course. Access the site from West Street and bear immediate left onto the dirt road, park on the hillside. Parking in other areas is not allowed when school is in session.
9. WALKER’S RESERVOIR
This blazed 0.8 mile trail is a scenic loop around the shores of Walker Reservoir East. Fishing is popular. Access to the CT blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail is directly across the street from the parking area.
10. MEETINGHOUSE HILL
The 33-acre Meetinghouse Hill field is one of the most historic places in Vernon. It was the site of the first meetinghouse and school in Vernon, and also the site of a Native American trail. Now preserved as open space, the property is part of Strong Family Farm. The trail to the top of the hill has spectacular views of Hartford.
11. VALLEY FALLS PARK TRAILS
This beautiful 200-acre town-owned site has several miles of blazed trails, a pond and swimming beach, picnic pavilion, Braille trail and ample parking. It is part of the 2000-acre protective greenway in the Tankerhoosen River watershed. Hiking, swimming, birding, and cross-country skiing are enjoyed here. The Rails-to-Trails Hop River Trail and the Webster-Knapp Ridge Trail, owned by the Northern CT Land Trust, run along the western boundary of the park and are easily accessed from the park. Sections of the park have ruins of textile mills and an early trout hatchery, and have been named National Register Historic sites.
12. RISLEY POND LOOP TRAIL
This beautiful, 104-acre site is owned by the Manchester Land Conservation Trust. It has 3.3 miles of blazed loop trails, including a section of the blue-blazed CT Shenipsit Trail. Stunning views are seen from the Box Mountain ridgetop. Park at the north end of the pond, off Lake Street.
13. TALCOTT RAVINE LOOP
Talcott Ravine was gifted to the Northern CT Land Trust by the Talcott family. Points of interest include glacial geologic features, the Tankerhoosen River, Dobsonville dam, and historic mill ruins. The 1.8-mile loop trail includes a section of the Rail Trail.
Explore Historical Vernon, Connecticut
1. VERNON DEPOT
For over 150 years, a railroad brought goods and passengers to and through Vernon and Rockville. Once a bustling railroad corridor, the trains and rails have long since left town. The last freight train passed through town in late 1970, the last regular passenger train in 1955. Today, the old railroad routes are part of Vernon’s Rails to Trails linear park.
2. ROCKVILLE HISTORIC DISTRICT
The Rockville Historic District is located in the northeast section of the Town of Vernon, Connecticut and grew out of the textile industry that developed along the banks of the Hockanum River in the early nineteenth century. The Rockville Historic District consists of approximately 550 acres (.86 square miles) and includes 975 buildings.
3. TALCOTTVILLE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Talcottville is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a nineteenth century factory village. The district is associated with John Warburton and Peter Dobson, pioneers of the cotton manufacturing industry in Connecticut.
4. VERNON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Vernon Historical Society is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to the collection and preservation of historical materials and information relating to the town of Vernon and to providing opportunities for residents to learn about our local history.
5. VALLEY FALLS FARM
Valley Falls Farm is a scenic, 8-acre local historic property owned by the Friends of Valley Falls, Inc. It features an 1850 farmhouse, an iconic 1911 stable, and five outbuildings that were once part of a “gentlemen’s farm”. The Friends plan to open a Heritage Center in the coming months that tells the story of the farm’s prior owners and how they used the land.
6. NEW ENGLAND CIVIL WAR MUSEUM & RESEARCH CENTER
Housed in an original Grand Army of the Republic Hall, the museum contains numerous one-of-a-kind artifacts and research resources to help tell the story of the average citizen-soldier of the Civil War.
7. NEW ENGLAND MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM
With over 25 different brands, extensive magazine archive, and memorabilia from iconic events and superstars in the industry, there is something for every motorcycle enthusiast.
8. WAR MEMORIAL TOWER ON FOX HILL HENRY PARK
War Memorial Tower at Fox Hill at the crest of the hill in Henry Park opened in 1939 as a monument to honor all veterans from Vernon and Rockville. The tower with its promenade offers a commanding view of the Connecticut River valley. Visitors can park along Tower Road near the base of the memorial.
9. ARTS CENTER EAST
Arts Center East is home to a rich artistic community. With a year-round calendar of exhibits that are free and open to the public, Arts Center East’s mission is to advance the arts for all. The Arts Center offers beginner and intermediate classes in varied artistic mediums, and present multiple musical and theatre performances throughout the year.
10. STRONG FAMILY FARM
Strong Family Farm is Vernon’s nonprofit community farm located in the Center of Vernon. Established in 1878, it was the last family farm in operation. The big yellow barn is a local landmark and artists’ subject. In addition to a store with seasonal CT grown produce, the farm hosts many popular farm inspired events.
This guide was produced in partnership with the Town of Vernon and with the generous support and funding from the Vernon Greater Together Community Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, CT Humanities and the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts.