Whenever I am out in the natural world, I listen for the roar.
Not the call of lions, tigers and bears, but the sound of waterfalls dropping over rock chasms or rapids tumbling along a river. And there is plenty of roaring as you navigate the trails of the Scantic River Linear Park West in Enfield.
The Scantic River is a lot like the Hockanum River, which that flows through Vernon, Manchester and East Hartford. Both located along highly developed stretches of busy roads, the rivers flow forgotten through the towns. But if you find the time to seek them out, you will wonder how you missed them.
Located along Route 190 in the Hazardville section of Enfield, this portion of the Scantic River Greenway includes scenic views of the river, a farm, a forest filled with huge white pines, banks lined with blooming daylilies and several thundering rapids.
When you arrive at the parking area, you will find one of the more unusual sights at the trailhead – a basketball rim nailed to the tree with bark wrapping around it. From here, the trail descends to the river, past gorges and a large field. The sounds of the first set of rapids draw visitors to the banks of the river along one of the many side trails that showcase this portion of the 38-mile-long waterway, which winds from its headwaters in Massachusetts to its confluence with the Connecticut River in South Windsor.
The first side trail to the river leads to a high embankment overlooking the waterway and a fairly calm stretch of the Scantic. Several benches line the top of the bank, giving visitors a chance to enjoy the peacefulness of this section of the river. The river is fairly shallow in this area, for those who want to kick off their hiking boots and explore the trails on the other side of the Scantic.
From the benches, the one-mile loop trail winds high above the river with several openings in the forest providing viewing areas of the clear-running river. The trail passes through a deep pine forest before returning to the banks of the river, which runs placidly past a cattle farm.
It is here where you begin to hear the sounds of what is known as "Stockers Rapids." A side trail takes visitors past an abandoned building to an old, crumbling asphalt road. The road leads to an overlook of the rapids and a broken dam in the forest. The water plunges loudly over several high rock ledges and through a chasm, leaving visitors with an appreciation of the power of the Scantic and why it was so highly desired by factory owners.
Hazardville was once home to some of the largest gunpowder factories in the country, supplying gunpowder for the Mexican War, Civil War and the California gold rush – an industry that also had many deadly explosions. Today, this section of the Scantic River is known for its quiet and peacefullness – a forgotten escape along a busy road.
The Scantic River Linear Park is located along Route 190 (Hazard Avenue) directly across the street from Holiday Lane.