Aug 11, 2011
01:56 PMDiscover Connecticut
Weekend Discovery: Air Line State Park Trail
Like to hike? The Air Line State Park Trail provides one of the longest, straightest and flattest paths to be found anywhere in the state, offering more than 50 miles of family-friendly trail that stretches through a wonderfully diverse terrain.
Like other rail trails throughout the state, the Air Line trail got its start as an actual railroad, being built as part of the New Haven line in 1846—since planes were still decades from being invented, it took its name from the idea that its path was part of a straight line between New Haven and Boston, or the shortest distance "as the crow flies." Trains rain along this path until the floods of 1955 destroyed much of the trackbed. The land fell under state jurisdiction, and eventually was designated for bridle and hiking trails.
The trail is divided into two sections: the south section, which runs from East Hampton to the Willimantic River; and the north section, which goes from Willimantic to Putnam. The trail continues through Thompson to the Masschuesetts border, although it's not as well cleared as the rest. The majority of the trail offers wide, open paths, composed of either packed stone, dirt or gravel, ideal for walking, jogging, biking or horseback riding.
Since the Air Line State Park Trail covers such a long distance, there are numerous access points in the various towns along it. And being a state park, it is free and open to the public. Enjoy!