Walks & Trails
Whether exercising on your lunch break or taking the family for a stroll, our trails offer a sublime scenic and sensory experience.
Walk, run or bike our trails; the choice is yours. They’re open all day* and are a perfect backdrop for any outing.
Click here to view and print our Riverwalk Park Brochure with Map!
* Trails are closed from dusk ‘til dawn and intermittently during the winter for snow removal.
Great River Park, East Hartford
2.8 mile loop. Approximate walking time: 50 minutes
From the parking lot, proceed in either direction along the river. Walk south to the Hockanum River and return for a one-mile walk or continue north to the Bulkeley Bridge and return for the full 2.8 mile walk. The walkway is paved and lighted its entire length.
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza to Riverside Park’s Boathouse, Hartford
1.6 mile loop. Approximate walking time: 30 minutes
Proceed north from Mortensen Riverfront Plaza following the walkway along the river, pass under a stone arch of the historic Bulkeley Bridge and into Riverside Park to the Greater Hartford Jaycees Community Boathouse. Once you reach the boathouse, simply reverse the directions and return to downtown Hartford. The walkway is paved and lighted its entire length.
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza to Great River Park’s Hockanum River, Hartford and East Hartford
3.2 mile loop. Approximate walking time: 60 minutes
Proceed from the upper level of the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza and head east across the Founders Bridge Promenade into East Hartford. Use the handicapped ramp or descend the stairs to East River Drive and turn left under the highway bridge and then left again up the walkway ramp into the north section of Great River Park. Once you reach the stone arched Bulkeley Bridge (I-84) turn around and follow the path down to the river, under the Founders Bridge and south past the boat ramp and amphitheater. Follow the walkway through the flood plain to the Hockanum River confluence under the Charter Oak Bridge. Once you reach the Hockanum River, simply reverse the directions and return to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza and downtown Hartford. The walkway is paved and lighted its entire length.
Charter Oak Landing to Great River Park’s Amphitheater, Hartford
2.0 Mile loop. Approximate walking time: 40 minutes
From Charter Oak Landing’s parking areas, follow the walkways to either the stair tower or pedestrian ramp on the Charter Oak Bridge and cross the river into East Hartford. Once back over land, descend the stairs to the floodplain and follow the paved walkway over the Hockanum River Bridge and continue north through the forest to Great River Park’s amphitheater and main entrance. To return to Charter Oak Landing, simply reverse the directions. The walkway is paved and lighted its entire length.
The Mountain Bike Trail at Riverside Park, Hartford
Riverside Park is also home to over 4.5 miles of trails starting at the boathouse and extending north almost to the Town of Windsor with two distinct trails in the flood plain forest for park visitors to enjoy either on foot or mountain bike. The main trail is wide and starts under a canopy of mature cottonwood and maple trees, passes under a rustic railroad bridge still used by the Connecticut Southern Railroad, and follows the City’s earthen levee for more than two miles until you reach the Tower Brook gully. A noticeable feature, the former Hartford Landfill, will soon become a passive recreational area with tremendous views of the city and beyond. For your return trip to the boathouse, a single track trail follows Tower Brook to the bank of the Connecticut River and weaves its way around hundred’s of trees while offering a close-up view of the river and the possibility of seeing a Bald Eagle, splashing fish, wild turkey, or colorful pheasant along the way. Designed and built by inner-city youths, the trails have been used by several regional and national mountain bike sporting events brought to Riverside Park. The trails are available to the general public seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
Do you like to run but sometimes need a little motivation to get started? Come join the Downtown YMCA’s women’s only running group! Runs take place on the beautiful riverfront trails. Click here for more information!
We hope you enjoy your Visit to the Riverfront Parks!
A RIVERFRONT STORY - Who is Running in Riverfront Recapture Parks and Why?
Sheila Reese grew up in Middletown and relocated to Hartford in 2004. Upon meeting a Riverfront staff member at a networking function, Sheila mentioned that she is a runner and inquired about using Riverfront trails with her group. The group gathered in the parking area at Riverside Park where trail maps were provided and the best distance route was selected for the day.
The Department of Health and Human Service’s Department of Minority Health reports “African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.” Realizing obesity can lead to diabetes and other serious, chronic illnesses, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks conceived and founded Black Girls Run!
Black Girls Run! is a nationwide African-American Women’s Health movement promoting exercise and healthy living. “Our most popular exercise of choice is running. Members cover the full range of runners, from Couch Potatoes on the rise through full marathoners.”
With the entire country as our gym, Black Girls Run!-Hartford has the added luxury of running along the paths from Riverside Park to Great River Park. “The Riverfront organization thought of everything. We basked in the storybook beauty of the foliage-fringed, calm river waters as we warmed up on the landing. Armed with Riverfront’s maps that outline various color coded, pre-measured routes offering a variety of scenic views, we opted for a four mile plus run over the bridge to East Hartford. A variety of terrain, staircases, and trails equipped with biking lanes and art-laced paths enhanced our experience.”
“Today’s running group includes novice and veteran runners that offer unmatched support and camaraderie. The run wasn’t complete until all met at Riverside’s “free” parking lot, trading war stories and making plans to do it again. We then bid one another farewell until the next time!” Riverfront Recapture has been added as a running point on their running schedule, so if you see a group running in the park, wave, and give them a thumbs-up. To join the CT Chapter of BGR!, click here for more information.
A RIVERFRONT STORY - No prior experience was required – to join this Hartford Steam Boiler running group.
Six Hartford Steam Boiler employees run together several times a week, often in Riverfront parks. A few had running experience when they started, and some had none. All had different reasons for starting, including: too much time at the desk, a walker encouraged to join the runners, stress outlet, preferring to be outside rather than in the gym.
What do they get out of this experience? Tina, Nap, Cheryl, Todd, Les, Angela, and Kristi commented, “New friends, better health, satisfaction, and a chance to bounce ideas off each other in person rather than by email or phone.” And why on Riverfront trails? Various members of the group commented:
• “We have variety in our runs, as we take different paths – to the Riverfront Boathouse, across the river into East Hartford, or head south along the river toward the South End of Hartford.”
• “The river is beautiful.”
• “There is no traffic in the park, so no exhaust fumes.”
• “The views along Riverfront trails are great, perfect for refreshing myself for the rest of the work day.”
• “Experiencing and sensing the seasons – the riverfront and the trails are nice in every season!”
• “I enjoy the shaded trails.”
• “I love seeing the kids at the Boathouse.”
• “Riverfront parks are not littered – they are very clean.”
In addition to running in the Riverfront parks, members of this group have also experienced the 5k Extreme Scrambles (held in Riverfront parks in collaboration with the Hartford Marathon), Riverfest and its fireworks, often viewed from the HSB building, Dragon Boat races as participants and spectators.
This is just one of several groups from HSB and other downtown businesses that take advantage of Riverfront parks. We hope you will be encouraged to check them out on your own time.