The Hop River State Park Trail, located within a half-hour drive of Hartford, CT follows an old railbed along the Hop River and is in various states of development. This is one of our favorite mountain bike rail trails in Connecticut because it is a little rough in nature and still has some unimproved sections which offers a fun, rugged experience suitable for mountain bikes. It is very picturesque, passing through narrow rock cuts, the central Connecticut woodlands, a state park, farmlands edged by stone walls and quintessential New England towns.
Besides waterfalls, mountain laurel, and remnants of historic railroad bridges, wildlife including deer, turkey, hawks, owls and buzzards can be observed along the trail.
Manchester - Vernon: For a fairly continuous 12 mile route, the best place to begin your bike ride is at the Vernon Rails-to-Trails Park at the Manchester town line, on Church Street and head eastward. From the trail terminus in Manchester to the Vernon Town line, the surface is hard-packed dirt.
Vernon - Bolton - Andover - Coventry:
Vernon to Burnap Brook Road, Andover: Bicyclists will enjoy long, scenic stretches that traverse parkland with very few or no road intersections. The trail has been improved with a solid, stone-dust surface, signage, bridges and parking lots.
The trail from Burnap Brook Road to Kings Road in Coventry has been cleared but the surface is unimproved. Great for mountain bikes. Several new bridges along this stretch have been constructed by trail crews within the last few years. The trail parallels the Hop River just southeast of Bolton Notch. The river flows from its source at Bolton lake for 16 miles to the junction with the Willimantic River. Look for small waterfalls along the trail, especially near Burnap Brook Road at the confluence with Burnap Brook.
Note: From Center Street to Meritt Valley Road in Andover the trail is closed to trail through traffic. As of Spring 2008, there is still no safe way to cross over Route 316 as the bridge is missing. There is no barricade so watch out for steep drop-offs. If you are cycling with kids, it is advised to turn back at this point.
Coventry to Willimantic River:
Rough and unimproved. Some stretches overgrown. Mountain bikes recommended.
Start this section at Flanders River Road, Columbia. It travels to the Hop River State Park Trail terminus at the Willimantic River in Windham: Trail users must leave the rail bed at this point and come out on parallel Route 66. An active railroad line on the other side of the bridge prevents the trail from extending all the way into Willimantic. Connections from this point to downtown Willimantic and the connection with the Airline Rail Trail are currently being reviewed.
Note: The section from Kings Road, Coventry to Flanders River Road, Columbia is impassable due to an unsound railroad bridge over the Hop River that has not yet been replaced.
Note: This Connecticut Rail Trail is part of the proposed National Eastcoast Greenway System. It connects with the 5-mile Vernon Rail Trail north of Bolton Notch, CT. The Rockville Spur Trail meets the Hop River Park Trail at Warren Avenue and heads northerly into the historic center of Rockville, Connecticut.
For more information:
The Department of Environmental Protection
Phone: (860) 295-9523