Thursday, November 6, 2014

Norwattuck Rail Trail, Northampton & Hadley

Last week after I had an appointment in Northampton, I decided to take a walk on the Norwattuck Rail Trail. It's an 11-mile paved path from Northampton, through Hadley to Amherst and Belchertown. The original railroad was built in 1887 to link Northampton and Boston. Passenger service was discontinued in 1937 and freight service in 1979.

I parked in Northampton near the bridge, then walked over the Connecticut River, past fertile agricultural land, and made a left on West Street in Hadley. At the end of the street, I continued on up to the top of a berm and, voila! There is the river again! It had been completely hidden by the berm. Then I made a left along the river and walk to another section of berm back to the rail trail, and then back across the bridge.

It's a little over 4 miles with varied scenery. The long bridge crosses the river and Elwell Island; the undeveloped farm land which nearby, though not visible on my walk, has sprouted many large shopping centers and blacktopped parking lots; the river views are unpopulated and peaceful; and the sky is huge. Since I don't bike, I have not been on the rest of the trail, however it is well used. I love this little walk and try to make time for it whenever I am in Northampton.

The bridge over the Connecticut parallels the Coolidge Bridge on Rte 9.
Various crops and nursery stock are grown on the flat fertile land.
West Street, Hadley, is wide and lined with large oaks and maples.
It reminds me of its long agricultural history.
Some houses along the street are still farms.
At the end of West Street, I climbed up a wide berm to be able to see the river.
No buildings or development are visible.
Looking south across the fields to the Holyoke Range.
I love this sky and landscape!

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