Norwalk River Valley Trail Run & Salmon River Trail Run

Today was a trail running special edition Valentine’s Day for Debbie and me. We started the day relaxing in Prospect with the kids and Debbie’s parents, but then thinks picked up the from there. We drove to Cannondale to kick off an out and back run on the Norwalk River Valley Trail.

This is a hidden gem in Fairfield County. Eventually the trail will go for 30 miles, but the section we ran was a 5.6 miles “U.” It didn’t quite make a loop, so we turned back and repeated the route that we went out on. The trail abruptly ends at Skunk Lane in Wilton. That’s where we turned back.

The trail is a mix of road and trail. It’s hard to tell what the trail is like because it was covered in snow, but I suspect that it a mix of dirt and stone dust. The trail sections meander along the river, which is quite lovely. The road sections are a mix of busy suburban roads and nicer sections that wind through the quaint sections of Wilton. We loaded the course on our Garmin Fenix watches, and we still made a few wrong turns. The signage was sporadic.

Even still, this is a recommended trail. We chose this one because we figured that even with the snowpack, it would be runnable, and we were right. We didn’t use any traction. We enjoyed are run which took us 94.5 minutes for the 11.3 mile round trip. The route was nice and there are some scenic spots. It’s flat, so there isn’t any climbing or views, but for a nice trail close to civilization, this one is a winner.

After our Wilton adventure, we headed back towards home. The kids are spending a few days during winter break with their grandparents. We snacked in the car and scouted another trail to run. Again, we looked for a trail that we hadn’t done before that would be runable, even in the snow.

We chose the Salmon River Trail. It was an 80 minute drive from Wilton to Colchester. We did the Salmon River 5.5 Mile Run in 2007 with Shepard in the jog stroller. I recall arriving at the start late. The gun had already gone off. The race used a section of the Air Line Trail and a little bit of singletrack. So, we had been in the area, but we hadn’t done the complete “lollipop” that starts/ends at the famous Comstock Covered Bridge.

Unlike the Norwalk River Valley Trail, the Salmon River Trail is part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail system. Here is the CFPA’s Connecticut Walk Book description.

Towns: Colchester

Trail Overview: The Salmon River Trail in Colchester is within the Salmon River watershed and traverses a portion of Salmon River State Forest and loops through Day Pond State Park. Expect to see mixed hardwoods, beautiful views of the Salmon River, and an enormous glacial erratic. Day Pond State Park is wonderful for picnicking and Day Pond itself (regularly stocked with trout) is a great place for fishing and swimming. The trail’s Comstock Connector features historic Comstock Bridge, the only covered bridge in eastern Connecticut. A side trail, blazed blue/red, will take hikers to a waterfall.

Hunting is permitted in State Forests intersected by this trail. Please use caution and wear orange during hunting season. For Day Pond State Park parking info, a park map, and other park information, click here. Fore more info on Salmon River State Park, click here.

Allowed Uses: Hiking (all trails)/ Horseback riding (on yellow diamond trail only)

Partners: Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP)

Lee-Stuart Evans has an even better description on his website.

From Chatham Historical Society website, here is a description of the bridge:

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Comstock Bridge, also known as the Comstock Covered Bridge is one of the three remaining covered bridges left in the state of Connecticut – the other two being the Bulls Bridge in Kent and the West Cornwall Covered Bridge overlooking the Housatonic River in West Cornwall, Connecticut.

The course is rugged. It winds its way through Salmon River State Forest for 6.5 miles and gains nearly 1,300 feet in elevation. It’s a leg burner. There was more snow in Colchester than Wilton, so we used our Kahtoola MICROspikes and they helped. This run took just over 67 minutes and it really hurt the legs.

A second hard run with a drive in between is always a challenge, but we wanted to spend a bit more time in the woods, so it was worth the effort. We look forward to seeing this trail when it isn’t snow covered. It only took us 30 minutes to get home from where we parked near the bridge. We have a little bit of Sunday left to chill out before the work week ahead.

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@trailrunningmom scorched the final 10 miles. I made the 90 minute drive back to the finish and then ran out to meet her with six or so to go. We hammered the final rocky descent and then accelerated on the infernal five miles of dirt road that led to the finish. Time was about 27h54m @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun #bighorn100 #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #trailrunning #ultrarunning
@trailrunningmom is in the homestretch. She is on the last 17 mile segment coming down from the Dry Fork Ridge Aid Station. She came through around 9:15 A.M. after another grueling climb. It’s blazing hot. @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun #bighorn100 shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #trailrunning #ultrarunning
66 miles down as of 3:15 A.M or so. Second trip over Sally’s Footbridge. This time after 18 miles mostly downhill (all in the dark). I’ll see her at one more aid station. She perked up a bit and is on the last big climb now. She says her “quads are not working.” @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun #bighorn100
In and out of Jaws Trailhead Aid Station at 8,800 feet @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun #bighorn100 Nearly 5,000 feet of vert in 18 miles of relentless climbing was not @trailrunningmom ‘s jam. She suffered and slowed but she got moving again at the 48 mile mark. Long night ahead and now she is running the same 18 miles back DOWN the mountain. #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #trailrunning #ultrarunning
The good news is that @trailrunningmom was flying coming into Sally’s Footbridge Aid Station at 30 miles and some big descending. The bad news is I missed her after a three hour drive. It’s now a three hour drive back to the next AS. I feel terrible but a wrong turn was costly. You would think this was my first crew job! AS volunteers said she looked good and was running near the front. @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #trailrunning #ultrarunning #bighorn100
I saw @trailrunningmom at the Dry Fork Ridge Aid Station at 13.4 miles. She had a little under 4,000 feet of climbing to get to this AS at 7,480 feet. She was running in third but it is so early. As you can see, she was smiling. The scenery for crews is amazing. For runners it is even better. @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun #bighorn100 #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #trailrunning #ultrarunning
Start of the @bighorn100 @bighorntrailrun in #Wyoming @trailrunningmom is ready to rock it. About 300 runners started at 9:10 A.M. Depending on connectivity I’ll update every 4-6 hours. It’s remote! @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #trailrunning #ultrarunning
@trailrunningmom pulled the plug at #RunRagged Last Person Standing Race after 23 hours/laps and 71 miles. Five intrepid runners were still going when we departed. She is happy with her distance and was pleased to stop before the rain returned. Congrats to all who ran and kudos to the volunteers from the #cttrailmixers @bighorntrailrun is less than a month away and it’s her A race. She wanted to stay within her limits this weekend. Thanks to @laurab_312 for being on our crew. @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #trailrunning #ultrarunning @ultraspire #ultraspire
I arrived at the #cttrailmixers #RunRagged Last Person Standing Race in time to see the end of lap 11 and start of lap 12. Judging the quality of the field, this could easily go to Monday or Even Tuesday. The rugged 5K loop is running 40-55 minutes/lap with some moisture and mud for added challenge. @trailrunningmom says she feels good but it’s early. They started at 8:00 A.M. this morning. It’s been in the mid-40’s F and raining on and off all day. ☔️

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