Last Updated:     August 07, 2023

Length:               Cheney Rail Trail; 1.7 miles

                             Center Springs Park Loop Trail; 1.3 miles                            

Difficulty:           Cheney Rail Trail; Easy. Flat, stone-dust rail trail.  

                             Center Springs Park Loop Trail; Easy. Paved trail with slight hills.


To start from Truman Cowles Park for the Cheney Rail Trail [Northern End]; From I-84, take exit 63 to Route 30 east, then Route 83 (Oakland St-N Main St-Main St) south. Turn right onto Hilliard St. Truman Cowles Park, a small parking lot, will be immediately on your left.

To start from Center Springs Park for the Center Springs Park Loop Trail [Western End]; From I-84, take exit 63 to Route 30 east, then Route 83 (Oakland St-N Main St-Main St) south. Turn right on Bigelow St, left on Liberty St, right on Hemlock St then left on Lodge St.

The Cheney Rail Trail follows the rail bed of the former South Manchester Railroad. The old South Manchester Railroad, as the Cheney's called it, connected Cheney Brothers silk mills to northern Manchester. Built in 1869 with Cheney family funds, the railroad linked the silk mills to the main line, at that time known as the Providence, Hartford, and Fishkill Railroad, which ran through the North End. At 2.25 miles, it was the shortest freight-and-passenger railroad in the United States, but the longest private railroad. For more information visit; CHENEY RAIL TRAIL . You can also access the Center Springs Park Loop Trail, near the Southern End of the  Cheney Rail Trail.

Cheney Rail Trail:

Starting from Main Street/RR crossing [Northern End]; Farrs Sporting Goods is located here. Just behind Farrs next to the RR tracks the trail begins next to a RR Crossing sign. 

Note; Future plans call for connecting this trail to the start of the Hop River SP Trail at Colonial Rd in Manchester.

The wide, stone-dust Cheney Rail Trail travels past a cement Whistle marker before a cross-walk takes you over Hilliard St to the Truman Cowles Park parking lot after only 0.1 miles. Heading South from the parking lot, a picnic table, benches and an informational board are located in this tiny park. This is an urban trail that travels through a residential and industrial corridor. Cross-walk over Woodland St at 0.3 miles where the trail continues to your right. The trail dips down past another old RR Crossing sign and brings you to Middle Turnpike at 0.8 miles where you'll find another informational sign. USE CAUTION as their is no cross-walk. If you head right you can access a cross-light over this busy street. The trail continues along the power lines. This section is a bit more isolated. You travel along a high berm and come to an iron arched bridge overlooking Center Springs Park & Pond below to your left at 1.2 miles. 

Note; Just before the bridge a side trail will bring you down to Edgerton St where you may connect to the Center Springs Park Loop Trail. See Below

Continuing across this arched bridge you'll soon cross another old RR bridge over Center St. Here you'll find old RR tracks and sidings before traveling underneath Park St and coming to the old Cheney Mills (now Lofts at the Mills) after 1.7 miles.

Note; To connect to the Charter Oak Greenway you have 2 Options:

Option 1: Continue straight on-road along Elm St (residential/sidewalk available). This will take you through the old Cheney Mills out to Hartford Rd at 2 miles. Turn right on-road (sidewalk available) then take your first left on Prospect St across I-384. Here you'll pick up the Charter Oak Greenway , which travels East-West, after 2.3 miles.

Option 2: Continue straight on-road along Elm St, then take your first left along Forest St (residential). Turn right on Main St (sidewalk available) at 2.3 miles and travel to Hartford Rd where you'll pick up the Charter Oak Greenway at Charter Oak Park after 2.5 miles.

Center Springs Park Loop Trail:

Note; A paved trail travels West underneath the bridge out to Broad St. Here you'll find the Broad Street parking lot. Future plans call for creating a link to the planned Bigelow Brook Greenway, which will be built across Broad St on a vacant lot. No progress as of 2023. See; MAP .

[Western End] Follow the narrow, paved Center Springs Park Loop Trail East from Edgerton St along the Northern Side of the pond heading east. You'll pass by a pavilion, the Parks & Recreation building (restrooms available) on your left and some fishing docks on the right before coming to an intersection. Head right up to Lodge Drive (closed to traffic) and turn right. 

Note; Left brings you to the Center Springs Parks & Recreation parking lot.

Follow the road which turns into a wide paved trail straight ahead.

Note; The old road turns left and takes you up to Hemlock & Liberty Streets.

The trail heads uphill following Bigelow Brook and then turns right just below Main St (Route 83). The trail now Loops back West high above the brook with a couple of spur trails on your left leading up to Manchester town offices. When you come to an intersection on your right follow this narrow paved trail down the hill. 

Note; Straight takes you past another pavilion, up a small hill, then past a basketball court and ball field to Valley St after less then 0.2 miles.

Cross a small bridge over the brook at the bottom of the hill and head left to complete your Loop of 1.3 miles.