For Outdoor Enthusiasts
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat offers a unique hiking experience to Gillette Castle, home of the late William Gillette, famous for his stage portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
The Gillette Castle Connection has limited availability per trip; be sure to arrive early and call ahead if you have a large group.
Gillette Castle Connection hikers enjoy a 30-minute train ride through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. Next, passengers detrain at the Hadlyme Flagstop for a short walk to the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry. The Ferry transports passengers to the base of Gillette Castle State Park for an uphill hike on moderately graded trails to one of Connecticut’s most famous destinations. Total hiking/walking distance is approximately 3/8 mile each way, or 3/4 mile roundtrip. The entire trip (train ride / walk to ferry / ferry ride / hike uphill to castle) takes about 1 hour each way.
This hiking adventure is recommended for those in good health with average hiking skills and appropriate footwear/clothing. It is not suitable for families with small children or strollers due to the hiking terrain.
Tickets need to be purchased at Essex Station Ticket Window in-person. You must indicate to the ticket agent that you want to purchase Gillette Castle Connection tickets so that you are properly ticketed. Gillette Castle Connection passengers must sit in Coach Seating; upgrades to First Class and Open Car are not available.
The Gillette Castle Connection is available to hikers on the following dates in 2019:
May 25-June 9 (Saturdays & Sundays as well as Monday Memorial Day May 27)
June 15-August 25 (Daily)
August 31-September 2 (Daily)
This hiking connection is available on 2 outbound trains: 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (If you want to enjoy the entire experience of train ride, hike, and Becky Thatcher riverboat excursion, you must take the 11:00 a.m. departure). Hikers return to Essex Station on either the 2:00 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. train. In order to ensure that hikers board the return train on time, the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat will provide a map and train schedule at Essex Station. Please note that train tickets do not include fees for the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry (2019 rates are $2 per person each way) and the Gillette Castle tour, if desired.
The availability of this program is contingent upon the operation of the Chester / Hadlyme Ferry Service. The Ferry runs as required. On the return trip, hikers must allow for possible waiting time for the ferry. The train does not stop at the Ferry Road flagstop unless hikers are there at the scheduled pickup time.
In addition to Essex Steam Train & Riverboat fares, tickets for the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry are $2.00 (subject to fare change by the CT Department of Transportation). Gillette Castle, interior tour fees: $6 for adults; $2 age 6-12, free for children ages 5 & under.
The Gillette Castle Connection has limited availability per trip.
Be sure to arrive early and call ahead if you have a large group.