SOUTHWICK RAIL TRAIL:
COLUMBIA GREENWAY RAIL TRAIL:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: September 02, 2023
Length: Southwick Rail Trail; 6 miles
Columbia Greenway Rail Trail; 3.2 miles
Westfield Riverwalk; 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Columbia Greenway/Southwick Rail Trail. Easy. Flat paved rail trail.
Westfield Riverwalk; Easy. Flat, narrow stone-dust trail atop a levee.
To start from Phelps Road near the CT/MA border for the Southwick Rail Trail [Southern End]; From Routes 10 & 202 in Granby, CT, just over the line from MA, take Notch Rd east and immediately turn left onto Quarry Rd. Quarry Rd will travel east, then turn south. Turn left when you come to Phelps Rd. You'll travel underneath the trail and come to a parking lot on your right. Map Board, BIKE STATION and Porto-Potty located here. Head north along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail for 0.4 miles to the start of the Southwick Rail Trail.
To start from the Shaker Road parking lot for the Columbia Greenway/Southwick Rail Trail [Center Section]; From I-90 take exit 41 to Routes 10 & 202 south for 4 miles. Turn left on Tannery Rd, then left on Ponders Hollow Rd which become Shaker Rd. Just past where the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail crosses the road turn right to reach the trailside parking lot. Heading right (north) takes you along the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. Heading left (south) takes you along the Southwick Rail Trail.
To start from the Depot Square parking lot in Westfield for the Columbia Greenway [Northern End]; From I-90 take exit 41 to Routes 10 & 202 south to Westfield. Come to the elevated RR bridge, the parking lot is on your left. Travel underneath the RR bridge and turn left to access the entrance. Facing south. the trailhead is on your right, , just across Routes 10 & 202.
To start from Whitney Field in Westfield for the Westfield Riverwalk [Western End]; From I-90 take exit 41 to Routes 10 & 202 south. Cross the river and merge with on coming traffic. Take your next right on Orange St. Follow to Shepherd St and turn right. You'll cross over the Levee (Trailhead on your right) and enter Whitney Field. Parking immediately on your left. Head back out the entrance to the trailhead on Shepherd St.
The New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail is a planned 84 mile multi-use trail from New Haven, CT to Northampton, MA. In Connecticut the trail is referred to as the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and in Massachusetts as the New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail, although each town currently has their own name for the trail. Hence the name Columbia Greenway Rail Trail in Westfield and Southwick Rail Trail in Southwick. In Westfield the Westfield Riverwalk crosses the rail trail. This trail travels atop the Levee alongside the Westfield River.
The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a paved multi-use trail that extends from New Haven, Connecticut to the Massachusetts border. It follows the path of the former Farmington Canal and the New Haven & Northampton Railroad. Currently two sections are mostly complete in Connecticut. The Southern Section runs from New Haven to Southington and the Northern Section is complete for 22 miles from Farmington to the Massachusetts border. See; Farmington Canal Heritage Trail; Southern Section & Farmington Canal Heritage Trail; Northern Section . In Massachusetts the paved trail continues following the rail bed of the New Haven & Northampton RR along the Southwick Rail Trail & Columbia Greenway Rail Trail in Southwick and Westfield. A gap exists through the towns of Westfield & Southampton before the paved trail continues north through Easthampton and Northampton along the Manhan/New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail . The trail then intersects with the Mass Central Rail Trail; Williamsburg Branch which travels northwest towards Williamsburg and the Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck Branch which travels east towards Amherst. For more information See; SOUTHWICK RAIL TRAIL & COLUMBIA GREENWAY RAIL TRAIL .
In 1828, the Farmington Canal opened for excursion boats to take passengers from New Haven to as far as Northampton, Massachusetts. The canal was 86 miles long, 4 feet deep and 36 feet wide. Twenty-eight locks were built in Connecticut to accommodate a 292 foot total drop in elevation along the canal. The canal was never profitable and so by 1848 railroad tracks were being laid along the old canal route. The New Haven & Northampton RR/Canal Line was born, changing ownership over the years until the Boston & Maine Railroad discontinued service along this line. See; NH & NH RR .
Starting from the end of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Suffield, CT at the MA State Line [Southern End]; The Southwick Rail Trail continues North, crossing a bridge over Palmer Brook, where you'll spot a green Mileage Marker reading 22 miles (from Simsbury), as well as, a Farmington Canal information sign. Granite Mileage Markers every mile along the Southwick Rail Trail section.
This is also the site of the old Guard Gate or Guard Lock which was to prevent Congamond Lake water from draining into the old canal). The old Farmington Canal, which in MA joined the Hampshire & Hampden Canal, travels along the right. After 0.2 miles spot the modern Guard Gate or Guard Lock as the old Hampshire & Hampden Canal pulls away from the trail as it travels Northeast to utilize the Congamond Lakes. To get to Westfield from Congamond Lakes, canal boats traversed through eight Locks in Southwick. Lock 9 is along Shaker Road in Westfield.
The trail follows the old rail bed of the former NH & Northampton RR through an evolving marsh. After about 0.5 miles you'll leave the marsh and encounter a mix of forest, fields and residential hosing. At 1 mile you come alongside the Miller Road parking lot next to a Map Board. A Porto-Potty is located near-by. The trail then crosses Congamond Rd (Route 168).
Note; To your left is an old general store from the days of the RR that's been converted to a great place to grab some refreshments. Called Red Riding Hoods Basket, check out; RED BASKET for more information. Also, a quick 0.25 mile detour right along Congamond Rd will bring you to Congamond Lake and the Connecticut state line. Use caution as their is only a narrow shoulder along the road.
Continuing North, you cross a bridge over a brook and travel alongside a marsh. You'll travel over an old culvert bridge (used to allow farm animals to access opposite side of RR tracks) at 2 miles and pass by tobacco fields and barns. The trail then passes by Edgewood Golf Course and travels through a tunnel underneath Point Grove Rd at 3.1 miles. After traveling over a high berm you'll cross over Depot Rd at 3.5 miles and encounter another Map Board. Next a cross-light over Feeding Hills Rd (Route 57) at 4.3 miles where you'll find another Map Board BIKE STATION and Porto-Potty. The trail now travels out in the open between fields before heading back into the woods. You'll cross a culvert over Slab Brook surrounded by nice wood fencing. A slight detour around Sam West Rd (water fountain located here) brings you to a slight down hill grade with another Map Board in the middle of the woods at 5.8 miles. More wood fencing as you travel along a berm over Kellog Brook and past the Shaker Farms Country Club on your right. The trail crosses the Westfield town line after 6 miles and continues as the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. Informational signs along this section. You quickly pass by the Shaker Road parking lot where you'll find a Map Board. A cross-light takes you over Shaker Rd (Map Board) at 6.5 miles along the wide open trail. You'll pass by a spur trail up to Harvest Moon Lane followed by another steep spur trail up to Colony Circle. The trail then crosses over the Little River at 7.3 miles followed by another bridge over S Meadow Rd. A side trail leads down to the S Meadow Road parking lot next to the Little River. Nice open views to your right of the tobacco fields and the Holyoke Range. A berm brings you into Westfield where the trail crosses E Silver St at 8.0 miles. A side trail leads down to E Silver St. Lamps are located along this section which follows a berm through town.
Note; A side trail leads down to Hedges Ave where a tunnel under the trail connects to Ashley St.
You pass by another side trail on your left that leads down to Main St and another Map Board, before you cross a bridge over Main St at 8.5 miles. A 2nd bridge crosses over Thomas St (spur down to Thomas St) followed by a 3rd bridge over Chapel St (spur down to Elm St). An old RR trestle bridge then takes you over Elm St (Route 202) and a 5th bridge crosses over Orange St. This brings you to the Westfield Riverwalk and Levee above the Westfield River. Lots of overlooks and seating located here.
Note; The Westfield Riverwalk travels East-West atop the Westfield River Levee. See Below.
Finally, you cross another old RR trestle bridge over the Westfield River where the trail currently ends, as of 2023, after 9.2 miles. Straight ahead an active RR line crosses. Not sure how this old NH & Northampton RR crossed the active tracks? Not sure how they plan on bridging the gap to the next section in Southampton, which has yet to be built and will connect to the finished Easthampton section. See; Manhan-New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail . Part of Westfield's old NH & Northampton RR line is still active. Southampton's rail bed section is abandoned.
Note; Heading right along a cement path takes you past the small Women's Temperance Park out to *Route 202. Head left along a sidewalk, underneath an active RR bridge to Old Pochassic St. Across Route 202 is the Depot Square parking lot. Head left up Old Pochassic St and check out the old brick RR Depot on your left and and rail yards on your right. Straight ahead is another active rail line. Check out the old brick arch, I believe this is where the old NH & Northampton RR passed through and continued North past the large rail yard. The old NH & Northampton RR then split left (still active), while the another active line split right. Return to *Route 202. A crosswalk over Route 202 will bring you to Half Miles Falls Park, which is located in the median between Great River Bridge East and West (Route 202). Nice water features and views of the river. You can then cross back over the river via either the Great River Bridge East or West (Route 202), which both have walkways with promenades overlooking the Westfield River, back to the Westfield Riverwalk. In between, in the median, is Wojkiewicz Park. Be sure to check out the clock tower.
Starting from Shepard Street [Western End]; From atop the Levee.
Note; Heading West is a hard packed grass trail atop the Levee. It appears to end at Ellsworth St.
The narrow, stone-dust trail Westfield Riverwalk follows the Levee East past Whitney Field (Porto-Potty, playground & sports fields) and across Sackett St. Here the trail is paved as it takes you past bocce courts and promenades overlooking the Westfield River. You come to the intersection of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail at 0.4 miles. You pass by more promenades overlooking the river before and a trellis before coming to the Great River Bridge West (Route 202), where you'll find a cross-walk over to Wojkiewicz Park (located in the median). Travel across this tiny park, then head right to reach another cross-walk over the Great River Bridge East (Route 202). Head left along the sidewalk and you'll come to the stone-dust path on your right just before the bridge. Continue East atop the Levee passing by the Westfield Riverwalk parking lot. Here the river view is more scenic and the stone-dust Westfield Riverwalk a bit wider. Pass by a spur trail down to Park St at 0.8 miles followed by another spur down to Chapman Playground at 1 mile. Splash Park, playground & basketball court. The trail then turns inland, South away from the river. You head off the Levee down to Williams Riding Way after 1.6 miles.
CLICK HERE FOR COLUMBIA GREENWAY RAIL TRAIL MAP
CLICK HERE FOR SOUTHWICK RAIL TRAIL MAP
CLICK HERE FOR WESTFIELD RIVERWALK MAP
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT