CHENEY RAIL TRAIL:
CENTER SPRINGS PARK LOOP TRAIL:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: April 23, 2010
Length: Cheney Rail Trail; 1.5 miles
Center Springs Park Loop Trail; 1 1/4 miles
Difficulty: Cheney Rail Trail; Moderate. Undeveloped rail trail. Flat, hard packed dirt & grass. Mountain bike recommended.
Center Springs Park Loop Trail; Easy. Paved trail with slight hills.
To start from Truman Cowles Park; 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; 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 .
Starting from Truman Cowles Park; The trail actually starts north across Hilliard St and up 0.1 miles near the active rail line, but the surface consists of trap rock which is not bike friendly. Heading south from the parking lot, a picnic table, benches and a sign board are located in this tiny park. The surface consists of rough hard packed dirt and grass, but the trail is flat. This is an urban trail that travels behind residential and commercial lots. Your first road crossing is Woodland St which brings you along a narrow strip of grass behind two houses and a fence before the trail dips down past an old RR crossing sign and back along the rail bed. After 3/4 miles you'll cross a busier Middle Turnpike. USE CAUTION as their is no cross-walk. A dirt trail leads you along the power lines. This section is a bit more isolated. You travel along a high berm and come to an overlook of Center Springs Park & Pond below to your left at 1.2 miles.
Note; Just before you come to the high berm you will spot a dirt path along your left. This will bring you down to the Center Springs Park Loop Trail. See Below.
Here the trail narrows and starts to become overgrown (and possibly impassable in the summer months) as you travel behind the Manchester Parkade Shopping Center. A single dirt track brings you to the old Center St RR trestle which is fenced off. The narrow path then brings you down to Center St at 1.4 miles.
Note; For an easier return or to access the Center Springs Park Loop Trail turn left along Center St traveling underneath the old RR trestle. Turn left up Edgerton St and follow this residential street to where it's blocked off. Continue straight along this closed road (to traffic) and it will bring you down to the pond and park at 1.8 miles. The paved trail begins on the northern side of the pond, not quite reaching the road. To your left is the rail trail along the high berm and the dirt access path.
Center Springs Park Loop Trail:
Follow the paved trail from Edgerton St along the northern side of the pond heading east. You'll pass by a pavilion, some Porto-potty's and the parking lot 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 Park parking lot.
Follow the road which turns into a paved trail straight.
Note; The old road turns left and takes you up to Hemlock & Liberty Streets.
The trail heads uphill following Bigelow Brook and then crosses over the brook where it emerges from a culvert just below Main St (Route 83). The trail now loops back high above the brook with a couple of spur trails on your left leading up to Manchester town offices. When you come to another intersection turn right down the hill. Straight leads to another pavilion. Cross a small bridge over the brook and head left to complete your loop of 1 1/4 miles.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT