Willimantic: The Cycling Trail Connector

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Click the image to enlarge
Click the image to enlarge and read this historical marker about the Air Line and Hop River trails

To celebrate National Trails Day,  I rode the East Coast Greenway from Hartford to Willimantic, to see the newly-opened connector. In Bolton, I jumped on the Hop River Trail and pedaled southeast along this old railway bed, covered by wonderful shade trees. When this trail ended, I pedaled about a mile on the road west of town, then switched onto the brand-new trail that runs along the Willimantic river. While this new trail is relatively short, it now gives Hop River riders a way to avoid highway traffic into downtown Willimantic, or to cross a bridge to connect to the Air Line south trail to East Hampton. I took both options, first by zipping into town for a late breakfast at the Willimantic Food Co-op, then back across the bridge for a ride on the Air Line south trail, where I encountered dozens of cyclists and hikers enjoying the day as much as I did.

Check out the map above with trails (in green) and street routes (in blue). Click on any route to view its name and mileage. Download any of these files in GPX format: ECG Hop River, Willimantic west, Willimantic trail, Willimantic downtown, Air Line north, and Air Line south.

Update: This post features the easy routes that I would recommend to most riders with suitable tires for crushed stone trails, such as hybrid, touring, or mountain bikes. If you ride a skinny-tire road bike, these trails may not work for you. Also, these routes are ideal for dry weather, as heavy rains can turn sections into mud.

Also, I biked a longer route than shown above. I began in West Hartford and rode the East Coast Greenway through Hartford, East Hartford, and Manchester, and continued on the ECG/Hop River trail as described above. (See East Coast Greenway maps page for details.) When I finished the Air Line south trail in East Hampton, I biked through Glastonbury, crossed on the ferry at Cromwell, then back home through Rocky Hill and Newington. My total was 83 miles.

Download any of the photos below from my Flickr album.

  • Willimantic connector for the Hop River and Air Line trails

  • ECG Willimantic west entrance

  • ECG Hop River trail entrance at Bolton

  • East Hampton Air Line trail sign

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Jack Dougherty

Jack Dougherty writes about cycling adventures, advocacy, and his growing appetite at JackBikes.org.

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