ROCKVILLE SPUR TRAIL:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated:October 11, 2011
Length: Rockville Spur; 4.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy. This old rail trail is flat and consists of stone dust.
To start from the Colonial Road parking lot in Manchester; From I-84 take exit 63 to Route 30. Head east to Route 83 (Oakland St) and head right. Turn left on Sheldon Rd into the industrial park. Turn right on Colonial Rd and the parking lot will be immediately on your left.
To start from the Church Street parking lot in Vernon; Take exit 65 off of I-84 in Vernon to Route 30. From the westbound exit take Route 30 west and from the eastbound exit take Route 30 east. Cross over the interstate via the Dobson Bridge which turns into Washington St. Immediately after crossing the bike path, turn left onto Church St. The parking lot will be a little ways down on your left. There is a map board here along with a small gazebo and picnic table.
To start from Vernon Commons; Take exit 65 off of I-84 in Vernon to Route 30. Head east on Route 30 and take a right into the Vernon Commons Plaza and park. The trail starts just east of the parking lot where it crosses Route 30.
In 1846, the Providence & Plainfield Railroad was formed to build a railroad from Rhode Island into eastern Connecticut. Before construction had even begun, the western terminus had been expanded to Willimantic, then to Hartford, then to Waterbury with the intent of eventually going to the Hudson River in New York. The Connecticut portion of the route was chartered to the Hartford & Providence Railroad in 1847. Construction began in Hartford that year, building both eastward towards Providence and westward towards Waterbury. In 1849, the New York & Hartford Railroad merged with the Hartford & Providence Railroad to become the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad. On December 1, 1849 the initial segment of the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad between Hartford and Willimantic was opened for business. Meanwhile, back in Vernon, in February, 1856, a group of Rockville businessmen began planning the best route for a railroad to connect Rockville, which was already quite industrialized, to the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad at Vernon Depot. The four and a half mile Rockville Railroad was chartered in 1857, but a national depression prevented its construction until 1862. Once the line was completed, the Rockville Railroad went into operation in August 1863. The Rockville Spur splits off the Hop River State Park Trail in Manchester traveling into Rockville. For more information visit; VERNON GREENWAYS , VERNON DEPOT and CT RAIL TRAIL EXPLORER .
Starting from the Colonial Road parking lot in Manchester along the Hop River State Park Trail; The Rockville Spur Trail officially starts from the Church St parking lot but this is a good starting point to extend your trip. A map board is located here. The Manchester section is less developed then the rest of the trail with a hard packed dirt, grass and some stone-dust surface. It is also narrower. As you start out along the trail you'll spot some of the old RR tracks still in place along your left as you head into the woods. Mile marker posts are located every 1/4 mile along the Manchester section. You cross the town line into Vernon at almost 0.7 miles. Here the trail widens with a smooth stone-dust surface. Another set of mile markers are located on your right and originate from the Church St parking lot, the main point of origin for the mile markers along this trail. This is a forested residential corridor, but still fairly isolated. After crossing Taylor St look right to spot the old telephone poles left over from the RR days. Cross Elm Hill Rd at 1.4 miles and you'll come to the first of numerous informational signs located along the trail. This was the site of the old Talcottville Depot Station. The next section is more isolated as you travel through several rock cuts and over a high berm before crossing Dobson Rd at 2.1 miles. You'll pass by several informational signs along with an old RR signal before coming to the Church Street parking lot at 2.4 miles. This was the site of the old Vernon Depot. Picnic tables, a Porto-potty and a pavilion are all located here. This is where the mile markers originate from heading both east & west every 1/4 mile along the Hop River State Park Trail. The 0 mile marker also begins here for the Rockville Spur Trail which splits off when you reach Phoenix St at 2.5 miles. The Hop River State Park Trail continues straight. Head left along Phoenix St then right down Warren Ave. The paved trail then crosses the road and heads up a short hill where it reverts to stone-dust. Just past the 1/2 mile post (about 3 miles) will be an old railroad bridge over the Tankerhoosen River and overlooking Tankerhoosen Lake. You then travel underneath I-84 through two tunnels and come to Route 30 at 3.3 miles. The Vernon Commons Plaza parking lot is located here to your left. Be careful crossing this busy road as there is a crosswalk, but no light. The trail travels along a wooded residential corridor, crossing Ogden Brook after 4 miles. You'll cross over Center Rd followed by Regan Rd before the trail then passes through a small valley. You'll pass a foot trail up to Rockville High School on your left. After you cross under some transmission lines you'll come alongside some old buildings to your left. This is where another rail line split off heading west towards Old Town Rd. You'll cross West St at 5.9 miles as the trail becomes more urban. The next section consists not of stone-dust, but of another slightly rougher material. The trail briefly travels alongside Nye & Spring Streets before heading back into woods. You then dip down to cross over Rau St and head back up a short embankment where the trail now runs alongside a heavily wooded hillside. Below to your left are a series of old mill buildings that were built along the Hockanum River to utilize water power. The trail ends abruptly after 6.7 miles at an abutment overlooking Vernon Ave where a RR bridge used to be. If you look down to your right you'll see where a brook crosses underneath the trail and emerges on the left via a stone conduit. There is a small path to your left that leads down to Vernon Ave.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT