GRAND TRUNK TRAIL LETTERBOX:

STURBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS

HERITAGE TRAIL:

SOUTHBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Planted:                May 11, 2005

Last Updated:       July 28, 2013

Length:                 Grand Trunk Trail; 2 miles

                              Westville Community Trail; 1 mile

                              Heritage Trail; 1.4 to 1.6 mile loop

                              Westville Lake parking lot to Letterbox; miles

Difficulty:             Grand Trunk Trail; Easy. Flat stone-dust surface.

                              Westville Community Trail; Moderate. Hilly stone-dust surface.

                              Heritage Trail; Easy-Moderate. Stone-dust surface & boardwalks with one hill climb.     Loop; Moderate. Narrow hard packed dirt trail has some rocks and roots and hill climb.

Directions:     

From I-84, take exit 1 and follow signs to Mashapaug Rd. 

To start from the Westville Dam parking lot; Travel along Mashapaug Rd, which then becomes South St for 3 miles. Just past Westwood Pkwy on your left will be a brown sign for the Westville Dam. Turn left on Marjorie Lane and follow to the entrance and the Westville Dam parking lot.

To start from the Westville Lake parking lot; Travel along Mashapaug Rd for 2 miles until Breakneck Rd crosses it. You'll see a brown sign for the water treatment plant on your right, but turn left here. You'll pass through a gate for the Westville Lake Recreation Area. I'm not sure if this gate is closed during the winter or not. Cross over the Quinebaug River and take your second right into the Westville Lake parking lot. 

The Westville Lake Recreation Area is owned and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who constructed the Westfield Lake Dam on the Quinebaug River to control flooding and thus created Westville Lake. The park includes athletic fields, a picnic pavilion, grills and a boat launch. The Grand Trunk Trail travels southwest from the top of the Westville Dam along the northern side of the Quinebaug River/Westville Lake, while the Westville Community Trail travels southwest from the top of the Westville Dam along the southern side of the Quinebaug River/Westville Lake. The Heritage Trail travels east from the top of the Westville Dam down to and along the southern side of the Quinebaug River. The Grand Trunk Trail is a section of the TITANIC RAIL TRAIL which is planned to run from Palmer to Franklin. The Grand Trunk Trail is actually the rail bed of a defunct railroad that never got built. Some called it the "Titanic Railroad" after its founder, Charles Hayes, went down with the Titanic. Another completed section of the planned Titanic Rail Trail is the Brimfield Trail in Brimfield and Fiskdale. For more information visit; GRAND TRUNK TRAIL .

Starting from the Westville Dam parking lot:  

A signboard is located in the parking lot above the dam. From here you can access all 3 trails. If you start down the Westville Community Trail you can loop back around along the Grand Trunk Trail. The Heritage Trail also loops back to the parking lot.

 

1) Heading south along the Westville Community Trail; From the signboard travel through the parking lot to the right of the Army Corps project office past a yellow gate. You head downhill on a stone-dust trail that passes by an open birding area that includes an Osprey platform (no nest when we were there, however we did spot a Loon). There are informational signs located along the trail. The trail then travels up a slight hill into the woods along a ridge above Westville Lake before coming to a footbridge. Here the trail becomes steep and winding as you make your way down to river level. At 0.7 miles you'll pass a yellow gate, where you head right on-road along Old South St. This takes you across a causeway and over the Quinebaug River past the Westville Lake parking lot (Map board). Turn right and follow the path up to the yellow gate and the Grand Trunk Trail. About a mile.

Note; From the Grand Trunk Trail you may head left to its end or  right to loop back to the top of the dam for a 1.8 mile trip.  

 

2) Heading southwest along the Grand Trunk Trail; From the signboard a paved trail slopes down along the backside of the dam to a bridge. Below, the narrow rock channel diverts the water from the lake to the 3 flood gates. Cross the bridge to the northern side of Westville Lake where a flat, stone-dust trail travels alongside the lake. There are informational signs located along the trail. You head into the woods and pass by the Recreation Area with its picnic tables and pavilion on the left. You'll come to a yellow gate at 3/4 miles. On your left is the Westville Lake parking lot which also includes a map board.

Note; You may head left to loop back to the parking lot along the Westville Community Trail for a 1.8 mile trip, however, you'll face a steep climb.    

Continuing along the Grand Trunk Trail, cross Breakneck Rd and pass by a red and white gate. The trail continues as stone-dust, following a ridge with Old Mashapaug Rd below paralleling the trail and the Quinebaug River. Pass through a rock cut followed by a short, white stone marker to your left at 1.5 miles. Just past this marker is a large flat rock where you'll have a view of a concrete spillway in the river. The river is rough below this spillway and calm upstream. Take 8 paces back along the trail from a wooden post located on the right side of the trail and you'll see a large moss covered boulder on the ridge. Go to the backside of this boulder and lift up a flat stone to reveal the Grand Trunk Trail Letterbox. Continuing along the trail, you'll pass through a large rock cut and over a small berm before you come to a sharp turn in the trail. Here you can see the old stone abutments where the rail bed used to cross the river. Now the trail crosses the river just ahead at the Ed Calcutt Bridge, a narrow steel bridge. As you cross over this bridge, look below it to spot an old stone pier foundation. When we were there, a goose was sitting on its nest, protecting its eggs. The trail currently ends after you cross over the bridge at 2 miles, but plans are to continue the trail up to River Rd. As of August 2013 construction has yet to begin.  

3) Heading east along the Heritage Trail; Follow the entrance road out from the Westville Dam parking lot. Pass by a white maintenance building & road on your left before coming to a signboard and trail on the left at 0.2 miles. This is the start of the Heritage Trail. A wide switchback trail leads down to the Quinebaug River.

Note; As of July 2013, they still hadn't put down the final top coat of stone-dust.

The flat, shaded, stone-dust trail travels right alongside the river with benches and picnic tables along the way. You'll cross several boardwalks, one with a nice viewing platform that abuts the river. If you look across the river you can spot the old field stone embankment. Finally a cement handicap ramp leads you up to the end of the soccer field. Here, an informative signboard detail the history of the area. The trail ends at a small parking area just below West Street School where you'll find a map board and Porto-potty at 0.7 miles. Head left up the paved road to the school entrance road and turn right. This will bring you to the front of West Street School.

From here you have two options. If hiking or mountain biking I would suggest Option A. If  biking, Option B.

Option A; Take the paved path in front of the school right around the side of the building. To the left of the tennis courts will be a map board. A grass trail takes you alongside the tennis courts, past a trail marker, over a wooden bridge and along a hard packed dirt trail into the woods. The hilly, rough trail (stones and roots) travels along the ridge. You'll rejoin the switch-back trail mid point at 1.1 miles. Head left back up to the dam entrance rd, then right back to the Westville Dam parking lot for a 1.4 mile loop.

Option B; Head left out to West St, turn right and travel up a short hill either on-road or using the narrow sidewalk. Turn right on South St and then right again on Marjorie Lane, where a brown sign for the Westville Lake Dam indicates the entrance. This will bring you back to the Westville Dam parking lot for a 1.6 mile loop.

HH

GRAND TRUNK TRAIL MAP

HERITAGE TRAIL MAP

 

LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON

JANUARY 11, 2016

TO EMAIL A VERIFICATION

letterbox@snet.net 

 

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WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER

 

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