The Hop River State Park Trail is one of Connecticut's longest rail-trails. Narrow cuts and a lush tree canopy make for enjoyable visits year-round.
Near its western end is the Charter Oak Greenway, which heads into the state capital of Hartford. Less than two miles separate the two trails and plans are in the works to connect them. Both are part of the developing East Coast Greenway network, which connects multi-use trails from Maine and to Florida.
Shortly after you begin your ride from the west end, you'll have the opportunity to connect to another trail. At Church and Phoenix streets, the trail branches north and is sometimes called the Rockville Spur or the Vernon Rails-to-Trails.
From the intersection continuing east on the Hop River Trail, the trail climbs gradually for a few miles past impressive rock outcrops. Beyond the Bolton Notch parking lot, the trail passes beneath State Route 44 and US 6, threads a narrow rock cut then descends several miles through thick woods. Past Steeles Crossing Road, US 6 comes into view on your left, but not so close as to break the mood. Keep watch for small waterfalls like the one near Burnap Brook Road, and enjoy the covered bridge over State Route 316.
Eventually, you pass beneath US 6 through a 100-foot lighted tunnel. Another mile brings you to Parker Bridge Road. The trail continues east toward Willimantic. After going under the US 6 bypass, the trail continues along the Hop and Willimantic rivers to its end at Columbia Avenue. Here, you come to a beautiful bridge crossing over the Willimantic River that connects the trail to the Air Line State Park Trail, which spans more than 52 miles and runs northeast to the Massachusetts border.
Vernon: The Church Street trailhead is just 1 mile south of Interstate 84 and located between Phoenix and Washington streets. To reach the Church Street trailhead from I-84 east, take Exit 65 and follow signs to State Route 30 north. Turn right at the first traffic signal on Dobson Road and cross beneath the interstate. Dobson becomes Washington Street. A mile south, turn left on Church Street. Trailhead parking is ahead on the left. To reach the trailhead from Exit 66, bear right on Frontage Road, then turn left on Tunnel Road. After 0.25 mile, turn right on Warren Avenue. Drive 0.5 mile, take a left on Phoenix Street, then an immediate right on Church. Trailhead parking is on the right.
Bolton: Bolton Notch State Park; entrance is just west of where US 44 becomes Route 44/ I-384. Enter the park at the end of the guard rail heading west. Parking is also available at Steele's Crossing Road, about 0.3 mile west of US 6.
Andover: Park at Burnap Brook Road about 0.2 mile west of US 6 and on Wales Road about 0.2 mile west of US 6. From US 6 west, enter Andover, turn left onto Lake Road then right onto Merritt Valley Road. The road will intersect with the trail after about 0.2 mile.
Columbia: Park at turnouts where the trail intersects Hop River Road and Pucker Street, 0.4 and 0.3 mile north of US 6, respectively.