Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea how cool rail trails were. I also didn’t know how popular they’ve become.
We have been walking in the general vicinity of the house we live in for about three years. It’s a great place to walk and we have really awesome trails right in the back yard. After three years though, I’ll tell you, it gets a little…err…umm…old. Good thing we live in an area that’s host to avid walkers and bikers. I think the outdoor enthusiast population around here is above average.
A few weeks ago, we felt like going for a walk. I wasn’t enthusiastic about doing the same old thing, so I suggested heading down to a surprise area for something new. Since there is mucho trust of any plan I concoct ending in absolute perfection, there was instant agreement and we got in the car. We were heading down to the “Airline State Park and Rail Trail.”
– The Airline State Park is a rail trail located in Connecticut. It follows a rail line that was known as the Air Line. It was conceived as a high speed passenger rail line from Boston to New York City, shaving 25 miles (40 km) off the old route. (Source)
– Since 1991, thousands of local residents and visitors have discovered the joy and beauty of the Air Line Rail Trail, a scenic and peaceful 50 mile stretch across eastern Connecticut, through the towns of East Hampton, Colchester, Hebron, Lebanon, Columbia, Windham, Chaplin, Hampton, Pomfret, Putnam, and Thompson. (Source)
– The Airline State Park Trail, located in eastern Connecticut, follows the old rail bed of the New York & New England Air Line Railroad, so named because it followed a straight line route, as if drawn through the air, between New York and Boston. Stretching for more than 50 miles, it is divided into three sections: South , North and Thompson. (Source)
Let’s just say, it’s really nice. It’s as level as any train track would be and it’s in excellent shape. The very first night we began walking on the trail, our jaws nearly hit the ground. There is one particular section that makes you feel like you are walking through a safari themed area of Disney World. There are rivers and swamps, birds, turtles, side trails, bridges, cliffs…almost anything natural you can think of that would be in this region of Connecticut. The next time we walk on that section of trail, I’ll be sure to take some video and photos.
One more thing…this rail trail is really popular. We weren’t ready to encounter so many serious participants of what we have here, but we were glad to see them. The neighbors enjoy walking and biking on this trail and it seems as though they are the type of people who would put up a fuss if anything ever happened to it.
We decided to go for a bike ride yesterday evening. Walking is kind of tough this time of year because of the bugs. You can either walk and swat flies the whole time or you can jump on a bike and outrun them. The bikes it was.
The section of trail we decided to ride on was about one and a half miles long, so it’s a three mile round trip. It’s not difficult and there are some really great natural features. The trail crosses two rivers (Judd Brook and the Jeremy River). There are also some nice steep declines to the river available if we decide to do some hiking in the Autumn.
Here’s the unfortunate part of yesterday’s bike ride. Just when I got to the very end of the section or what I otherwise know as the turnaround point, I realized I was losing air in my front tire. I was a mile and a half deep in the woods. Since I didn’t have a fully flat tire, just a slow, but quickening leak, I decided to head back a bit faster than I normally would. I’ll give you the ending of the story right now…I made it, but let me tell you that it’s not fun riding a bike with a flat tire. It’s loud and it takes a heck of a lot more energy than it normally would. Also, with all the extra energy I expended riding so fast, I burned more calories than I would have liked to.
When we got back, I took the tire off and patched the tube. There was a small hole caused by a thorn stuck in the tire. It’s probably been there for years because I have had to fill it up before, but this is the first time it really let loose. Since I always wanted to have road tires, instead of mountain bike tires, I ordered some this morning. I’ll write about that later on.
For now, enjoy some video I took.
Airline State Park and Rail Trail Bike Ride
Judd Brook – Airline State Park and Rail Trail
By the way, the music in the first video is “Break Open” by Gareth Johnson.