Central Connecticut Regional Planning AgencyCT

Environmental profile

The Central Connecticut Region covers 166.3 square miles. The south of the region consists of plains with fertile soil sandwiched between dramatic, steep traprock and amphibolite ridges (the Metacomet Ridge and South Mountain). While most of the plains agriculture in the region has been lost to suburban sprawl, challenging terrain has spared the ridges the depredations of major development.

The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains begin in the middle of the region and rise to the north and west. These areas have witnessed an explosion in exurban development in recent years but, for the time being, by and large are ecologically unimpaired, with tracts of unfragmented forest the dominant landscape.

Ragged Mountain, which rests atop the Metacomet Ridge in the towns of Southington and Berlin, is the region’s highest point, at 761 feet. Due north along the ridge in Plainville is Pinnacle Rock, another popular spot for enjoying scenic vistas. These and many other peaks, ridges, valleys, and kettle holes can be accessed through an extensive, semi-connected network of hiking trails. These include the New England Trail, the newest of eleven federally-designated National Scenic Trails.

The region is rich in water features, albeit of varying quality. The Farmington, Pequabuck, and Quinnipiac Rivers flow through the region. The Farmington, which is immensely popular with kayakers and anglers, as well as with walkers, joggers, cyclists, and roller-skaters (on its riverfront trail) is under consideration for addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Quinnipiac, while supportive of motorless boating, in contrast is chronically polluted. Lakes and ponds can be found in every part of the region. These include several pristine reservoirs as well as several private community lakes. (There are no public swimming holes in the region.)

New Britain and Bristol offer generous, well-maintained, historic urban parks, with opportunities for passive and active recreation. However, in recent years municipal open space protection in the region has lagged. The State of Connecticut has preserved large volumes of land, its properties are not evenly distributed: while some towns enjoy thousands of acres of State open space, others have fewer than twenty.