Old Rail Lines in Connecticut Make Great Trails

With the Industrial Revolution in full swing in the early 1800s, it was only a matter of time before businesses and travelers in Connecticut seized upon a then-novel technology, the railroads. By 1899, there were 1,013 miles of track, with another 416 miles of trolley lines.

Today, only 629 miles of passenger and freight rail are still in use in Connecticut; the remainder have fallen victim to the convenience of cars and trucks. So what happened to the other 800 or so miles of relatively flat rail bed? Well, quite of bit of it has found new life as recreational trails for walkers, bikers, joggers and even horseback riders.

Nineteen “rail trails” have been laid over nearly 185 miles of abandoned railroad rights-of-way across Connecticut. Unlike the miles of hiking trails that climb over hill and dale and greenways that twist and turn along the banks of rivers, rail trails are generally flat with long, gentle curves. The first weekend of this month, June 4-5, 2016 Connecticut will celebrate National Trails Day, so it’s the perfect time to try one of the state’s trails.

Among the longest rail trails in the state thus far is the Air Line State Park Trail, which extends roughly 53 miles between from Hampton, near the Connecticut River, to Thompson, which borders both Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the state’s northeast corner. Among the shortest are the Trolley Trail, a three-quarter mile link in Plainfield between the Moosup Valley State Park Trail and the Air Line, and the mile-long Cheney Rail Trail, which previously linked the Cheney Co. silk mills in Manchester by rail to the rest of the world.

See the complete list…


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