Heroes Tunnel (a.k.a. West Rock Tunnel)
Regicides Trail above, Wilbur Cross Parkway below
The Regicides Trail traverses the ridge above the well-known tunnel on the Wilbur Cross Parkway. When I was just gaining a love for long distance trail hiking as a young Boy Scout, we hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail over the Lehigh Tunnel. Something about looking down at the cars below going through the mountain I had climbed felt… felt powerful somehow. I was probably 11 at the time and I remember that feeling fondly. This trail and tunnel are not quite as impressive, but it’s still something cool to do in CT. In fact, you can’t do this ANYWHERE else in New England. Why? Because Heroes Tunnel (renamed from West Rock Tunnel in 2003) is the only road tunnel in New England that goes through a land feature.
The following is excerpted from my Regicides hike report:
We trudged onward towards what was, for Andy, the highlight of the day: hiking over the West Rock Tunnel and the Wilbur Cross Parkway (which becomes the Merritt a bit further south). I’ll admit, it was sort of cool and of course all subsequent drives through the tunnel will annoy my wife and child: “Papa has been up there. Above us now. Right over this tunnel. Yeah, that’s right.”
Driving under the tunnel…
The view from southern side over the tunnel…
Andy framing one of his “perfect shots” from the northern part of the woods over the tunnel… and there’s that mystery tower…
This rather odd stone tower in the middle of the woods is – to the best of my knowledge, a ventilation tower for the tunnel a couple hundred feet below. A CT letterboxing website (RIP) descibed this thusly: “Walk up the stairs to a stone octagonal building, built into the hillside. We believe this building is an air shaft for the Wilbur Cross Tunnel below. This looks like some medieval tower with its iron gated windows and steel door.” Not mentioned is the weirdly distant sound of the trucks passing below.