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Maintained by: The Vernon Greenway Volunteers (VGV) and volunteers from the Hockanum River Linear Park Committee (a subcommittee of Vernon Parks and Recreation).
Parking at the beginning of the trail:
Parking can be found at 3 places...
> At the north end of the trail, on the grass at the Waste Treatment Plant off Windsorville Road (Rte.74), for approximately 6 cars
> At the mid-point of the trail, at the south end of a parking strip next to Paul's Pizza, for 4-6 cars; and,
> At the south end of the trail, on the parking lot for the Dart Hill North Park on Dart Hill Road, for 4-6 cars.
The trail walk:
This is one of the most scenic, hilly and tranquil of all the trails along the Hockanum River. It parallels the river, winding through a lush green forest valley totally away from all intrusions of traffic noise. It includes seating at various points for privacy and reflection.
Beginning at the north end of the trail, the hike begins from the parking lot on the right side of the Waste Treatment
Plant drive and parallels the outside (right) of the fence. Note: There is a kayak launch site on the right from the
drainage ditch just before the fence. It allows easy access to the scenic Vernon Marsh and its wildlife -- beavers, carp,
ducks, geese and herons.
The trail follows the tree line on the right and passes through a field (a part of the Public Works large-parcel deposit area) and goes down a stairway on the right into the woods. The field trail is unmarked, and one must watch carefully for the stairway. The trail passes around a large wetland pond on the right, through invasive Japanese Knotweed, and enters Vernon Gardens property. Stay to the right, around the swimming pool.
The main trail follows the river and passes over a stream channel on a metal grate bridge. The pond on the left serves as a wetland holding area during flood conditions. During floods, an alternate trail marked with orange flags and orange/blue blazes follows the paved road around the right side of the swimming pool; then turns right, past maintenance buildings, into the grass; and follows the woods with the pond on the right, where it soon rejoins the main trail.
After the main trail metal grate bridge, there is a log bench seat with a spectacular view of the marsh. Beaver activity is apparent in this stretch. Autumn Olive are invasive in this area.
You next cross a narrow stream over a footbridge, and then pass behind Woodmere Apartments. You continue past tennis courts, climb a small bank, and pass a swimming pool fence on your left. Be careful to follow the orange blazes that immediately re-enter the woods on your right, where you descend and cross a 50-foot boardwalk over a drainage wetland.
At the south end of the apartments, 2 side trails on the left lead to the unimproved Dart Hill Extension Park, and a 0.4 mile unblazed stone dust loop trail. The first side trail is at the north end of the loop, and the second is at the south end; both are blazed orange/blue. The stone dust loop trail has an access and parking point at the southeast corner of the parking strip near Paul's Pizza on Route 83.
Continuing on the main trail, you cross another footbridge with steps over a stream channel. The lowland on the left serves as another wetland holding area during flood conditions. The trail follows a narrow ridge above the river and enters Dart Hill North Park on a hilltop. The path to the left is an unpaved, unblazed 0.3 mile Park loop trail, which rejoins the main trail near the picnic area at the northwest end of the parking lot on Dart Hill Road. The picnic area provides an easily accessible respite above the river.
Note: The Rockville Spur of the Rails-to-Trails may be reached by walking left (east) on Dart Hill Road, crossing Route 83 / Talcottville Road, and then bearing left at the fork onto Regan Road and to the trail crosswalk. The total road walk is about 0.5 miles each way.
To continue south on the Hockanum trails on the west bank to Dart Hill South (West), walk to the right on the sidewalk along Dart Hill Road and cross over the river. Continue past Lawler Road and Skinner Road. Then cross Dart Hill Road and follow the orange blazes into the woods.