As the railroad that once connected Hartford to Manchester, Vernon, Bolton, Andover and Willimantic became abandoned, weedy growth took over from lack of use. And as with so many rail lines, the war efforts demanded the steel of the rails and they were removed for scrap value. Fortunately for today’s trail users the rail beds are much more difficult to erase from the landscape than the rails and ties, and conservation efforts through the years have yielded the many rail-trail systems we have today.
The 20 plus miles of the Hop River Trail, like many trails of this length, passes through or abuts many preserved open areas. This is especially true for the western sections of the trail where development has put more pressure on the land and preservation efforts have maintained precious open space. Thus, in Vernon for a mile and a half the trail abuts the Belding Wildlife Area and passes through Valley Falls Park, and in Bolton the trail passes through both Bolton Notch and Hop River state parks along with some municipal open space for an additional mile and a half.
East of these towns, in Andover and Columbia, the trail is more remote passing through woodlands, along the edges of fields and crossing and abutting the Hop River. Add to these attributes the workmanship of the stone cuts, the low land “fills” and the remaining stone work of water crossings, and for a quiet, scenic and historic outing, the Hop River State Park Trail is hard to beat.
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Coventry, CT 06238