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Air Line State Park Trail

Air Line Trail State Park

Air Line Trail State Park

What: State Park & Rail Trail
Where: East Hampton, Colchester, Hebron, Lebanon, Windham, Chaplin, Hampton, Pomfret, Putnam, Thompson
Activities: Hiking, Biking, Walking, Jogging, Rollerblading, Cross-Country Skiing
Length: 22 Miles (50 Miles Planned)
Maps: Click here

It follows a rail line that was known as the Air Line. It was used as a high speed passenger rail line from Boston to New York City and reached its peak usage during the late 1800s when the famous “White Train” used the route. Passenger service ended before World War II and freight traffic operated until 1955, at which point the bridge over the Quinebaug River in Putnam was washed out by flooding. The section between North Windham and Putnam was abandoned in sections in the late 1950s. The section from Portland to Willimantic was abandoned in the late 1960s. The section from Mechanicsville Jct. in Thompson and into Massachusetts was abandoned in the early 1970s.

The abandoned rail corridor between East Hampton and the Massachusetts state line was acquired by the Connecticut State Park System with the section from Route 66 in Windham to US Route 44 in Pomfret opening to the public in 1969 as a bridle trail. In 1976, the trail designation was extended north to Town Farm Road in Putnam. The southern section from East Hampton to Willimantic was opened as a trail in 1986. The Thompson section was opened in 1992.
Airline State Park is divided into three sections:

  • South section (from the Smith Street in East Hampton to the Willimantic River)
  • North section (from Route 66 in Windham to Town Farm Road in Putnam)
  • Thompson section (from Route 193 in Thompson to the MA state line)

The North secion of the trail from Windham to Putnam is part of the East Coast Greenway, which will stretch from Florida to Maine.

The South and North sections are connected by the Veterans Greenway, a short town-owned rail trail on the northeast side of Willimantic. The connection is not complete, as the Willimantic River bridge at the end of the South section is impassable and no trail connection has yet to be made through downtown Willimantic from the bridge to the Veterans Greenway. However a street connection is available joining the two sections by leaving the Southern section at Kingsley Road, continuing 2 miles (3.2 km) East to the Frog Bridge, crossing over the bridge, and accessing the North section via the Veterans Greenway.

In 2002, the state DEP acquired an additional 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of railbed in East Hampton, continuing the trail south from the current Smith Street terminus to Aldens Crossing Road. A bridge has been constructed to carry the trail across a brook where the original rail bridge was missing. No other work has yet been done to improve this section.

Trail Access Points:

South Section:

  • Smith Street, East Hampton – parking area
  • Bull Hill Road, Colchester – parking area
  • River Road, Colchester – parking area
  • Route 149, Colchester – parking area
  • On road detour under Route 2 via Route 149
  • Old Hartford Road, Hebron – parking area
  • Grayville Road, Hebron – parking area
  • Old Colchester Road, Hebron – parking area
  • Route 85, Hebron – parking area
  • North Pond Road, Hebron
  • Route 207, Hebron – parking area
  • Leonard Bridge Road, Lebanon – parking area
  • Chesbro Bridge Road, Lebanon
  • Route 87, Columbia
  • Cook Hill Road, Lebanon
  • Village Hill Road, Lebanon – parking area
  • Kingsley Road, Lebanon

North Section:

  • Route 66 / Tuckie Road, Windham
  • Route 203, Windham
  • Boulevard Road, Windham
  • Chewink Road, Chaplin – parking area
  • South Brook Street, Hampton
  • Potter Road, Hampton – parking area at nearby Goodwin Conservation Center
  • Estabrooks Road, Hampton
  • Station Road, Hampton
  • Griffin Road, Hampton
  • Kenyon Road, Hampton – parking area
  • Lewis Road, Hampton
  • Route 97, Pomfret
  • Brooklyn Road, Pomfret
  • US Route 44, Pomfret
  • Covell Road, Pomfret
  • Babbitt Hill Road, Pomfret
  • Railroad Street / US 44/Route 169, Pomfret – parking area
  • Needles Eye Road, Pomfret
  • Wright’s Crossing Road, Pomfret
  • Holmes Road, Pomfret
  • Modock Road, Putnam
  • River Road, Putnam
  • Town Farm Road, Putnam

Thompson Section:

  • Route 193, Thompson (south of Thompson center)
  • Sunset Hill Road, Thompson
  • Lowell Davis Road, Thomson
  • Sand Dam Road, Thompson
  • East Thompson Road, Thompson

The trail continues north into Massachusetts as the Southern New England Trunkline Trail, part of the MA State Park System. The surface in MA is the same as in CT, but Mass has improved access at trailheads and road crossings. This trail continues all the way to Franklin, MA.

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