Too cold and damp for a hike? No snow cover for a ski? Don’t let shoulder seasons keep you cooped up. A trail run, no matter how brisk the weather, can be just the answer.
Fortunately as residents of the Northeast, we’re never far from a trail of one sort or another. Connecticut’s Hop River Linear Park, a popular destination for families and marathoners-in-training alike, stretches from Vernon to Willimantic. A 16-mile rail trail connects a series of parks and greenways through several towns, including Freja Town Park, Box Mountain, and Bolton Heritage Farm. The rail trail also connects to other long trails such as the Air Line and Charter Oak Greenway.
Valley Falls Park in Vernon is a good starting point. The early miles of the rail trail cut through the park from north to south, and turn-offs provide access to a network of 8.5 miles of blazed trails, in addition to a connection to the 40-mile blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail. Runners can design a route as long or short, easy or rugged as they wish.
Deborah and Scott Livingston, avid trail runners and members of AMC’s Connecticut Chapter, are such fans of Hop River Linear Park that they built their home nearby. “We’ve run on trails all over New England, and even all over the world, but there is nothing like running out your front door,” Deborah says. “You can go from running on the smooth flat stone dust surface to running side trails with super steep hills on rocks and roots.”
In addition to running and snowshoeing, Scott also bikes to work through Hop River Linear Park. “Our kids are growing up on this trail and to them, it’s completely normal to have this great resource so close by,” he says.