Sunday. One of two days I get off from work. The end of the weekend. The day before I go back to work. There’s laundry to do and the car probably needs an oil change and while it’s tempting to veg out and watch 10 hours of Mad Men re-runs, the rugged trails of the northeast call my name, and who am I not to oblige them?
Nevertheless, let’s face it, it’s the weekend and I’m sluggish on the uptake. After prepping the bike, loading the car, eating lunch and watching 2 hours of Mad Men (damn you, AMC!) I’m at the Pequonnock Valley State Park trailhead in Trumbull, CT.
It’s easy to find and hardly concealed. Even on a hot day with high humidity, there are plenty of riders in the parking lot. Not surprising – Trumbull, as it’s more colloquially known – is rated the top trail system in Connecticut on Singletracks.com.
I started on the red trail which is almost immediately accessible from the trailhead. This strikes me as the flagship trail here. It meanders along the eastern border of the park, with tons of little off-shoots and what would normally be considered braids. And yet they’re oddly welcome here – remember those choose-your-own-adventure books we read as kids? Trumbull is a lot like that. With dozens of features along the way, you have to pick your poison.
After a short while I’m presented with the first overlook, which provides a stunning view of…the interstate. With that being said, if you’re here for the views, you’re in the wrong place. Trumbull is for the rugged spirit within.
The concrete is just STUNNING this time of year.
Forget Don Draper. What I really want to know is: Did Mikayla say yes?
And without fail, there are rocks – all kinds of rocks. Rocks you can hop up on, rocks you can drop off of, rocks that will make your derailleur cry “Uncle!” as it withers into the fetal position. I come upon two riders in the first 10 minutes of riding. They’re aboard a Santa Cruz Bullitt and a Kona Stinky. While that might seem overkill at a lot of places, it’s fairly ordinary here – there’s plenty of terrain that’s more than appropriate.
We briefly say hello and I part ways, temporarily feeling a *little* under-gunned on my hardtail. Not long after the moment passes as I enter a tightly knit section of singletrack along the ridgeline, lined by saplings on either side. A mere quarter mile later I encounter the only true “flow” section of trail, a lovingly crafted berm with a small rock kicker into it.
Don’t get the impression that Trumbull is hyper technical all the time. There are more forgiving sections throughout. The yellow trail runs adjacent to the red trail and is, for all intents & purposes, the red trail’s less-menacing sidekick. If the red trail is Batman, then the yellow trail is Robin; it’s not quite as badass as the Dark Knight, but it’s a refreshing change from the emphysema-laden ramblings that make Bruce Wayne’s alter ego so taxing.
On the north end of the park, where the red & yellow trails terminate, is a nice little park with a playground and other amenities. From here I jumped on the blue trail and headed south along the stream on the western border. Close proximity to running water means its a fair bit cooler here. It’s also a lot less technical, arguably the least difficult of the three trails I rode.
The blue trail’s terrain is smoother, largely riding beneath pine trees, with the decomposing needles forming a spongy carpet underneath the canopy. The surface is permeated by smaller roots and rocks, with larger rock gardens more reminiscent of the colored trails I rode earlier in the day.
On a sweltering summer day, I could totally imagine stopping mid-ride to jump in. A decrepit rope swing hanging from a nearby tree branch leads me to believe I’m not the first one to have this idea.
With recent rain the night before, the earth is tacky and ready to grip, with tire tracks like snakeskin patterned into the ground. Nearby rock outcrops are sweating, causing local graffiti to glisten in the intermittent sparkle of the afternoon sun.
I weave my way through, cautious of the smooth & slimy stone that constantly threatens to relieve my tires of their traction, and my bike of its vertical orientation. (Trumbull rocks are a special blend of tenacious after a good rain).
Not long after, the blue trail dumps me back at the trailhead, I pedal back to the car, almost completely spent…and then head back out for three more miles.
Editor’s Note: Regrettably I did not stumble upon Trumbull’s infamous Green Monster roller, although local lore leads be to believe it’s every bit as intimidating as it looks in photos (Google it).