The Hop River Trail is one of those great linear parks that go on and on forever.
In the case of the Hop River forever means 20.something miles from Manchester to Willimantic. For my stroll I took the Upper Section, which goes from Colonial Road in Manchester to Bolton Notch State Park. About 7.3 miles.
The trail begins in an industrial area and quickly turns to suburbs as it winds through Vernon, with the suburbs becoming more sporadic past a popular parking spot on Church Street in Vernon. You leave the houses behind as the trail skirts along and above the Tankerhoosen River and Belding Wildlife management Area before cutting through Valley Falls Town Park Again, the trail skirts high above the main park, though there are a number of trails that leave the HRT and go down into the park along the river.
At Bolton Notch the trail intersects with the East Coast Greenway, where I walked an additional 3.6 miles of the six-miles towards home. I lost the light and had to call for a rescue ride. Winter in New England. Day ends way too early. I also managed to go through Bolton Notch Park without going through and taking pictures of the notch itself.
Be warned, the trail bed is raised with viaducts and places to step off trail for a friendly tree or boulder are few and far between and the trail population is such that getting caught in the act of watering the verge or washing down a rock is a near certainty.
End thoughts? Too peopley for my usual tastes, but when I get the mindset and just want a long, flat wide trail to pound out miles at a steady pace this trail, and the others like it, are just the thing. And if you want to leave the people and get your backwoods on there opportunities to do so at a number of spots, Later in the spring I’ll go from Bolton Notch to Willimantic.