The Hop River Trail is a popular rails to trails linear park that runs 20.2 miles from Willimantic to Manchester. It began as the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill line from Hartford to Willimantic via Manchester when it was completed in 1849. A short section of track remains near the Manchester trail head, a turn table pit is near the Church St parking, and old telegraph poles dot the trail throughout.
The trail has undergone significant upgrades over the last 15 years closing the gaps to make it nearly complete. Only one bridge over the Hop River in Columbia is left to complete its length and join it with the Air Line Trail.
A section of the Hop River Trail is part of the Charter Oak Greenway which will connect Manchester to Putnam. It is also a part of the East Coast Greenway running from Florida to Maine.
I biked the entire Hop River Trail in July 2020 including the Rockville Spur for a total of about 50 miles out and back. It took me about 5 hours at a mixed pace.
Section list (South to North)
Air Line Junction to Kings Rd — 1 mile
$1.3 million project to put a deck on the abandoned Willimantic River bridge completed in September 2019
This section doesn’t connect to the full trail yet, still one bridge over the Hop River slated for renovation in 2021