The Toonerville Rail-Trail (a.k.a. Springfield Greenway) spans 3 meticulously maintained miles from the downtown business district of Springfield southeast to the western bank of the Connecticut River at the VermontNew Hampshire border. The Springfield Terminal Railway once operated an electric rail line connecting Springfield to Charlestown, New Hampshire, across the state boarder. The trolley was affectionately nicknamed the "Toonerville Trolley" after a popular cartoon strip that ran until 1947. Established in the 1890s, it was Vermont's longest surviving passenger trolley service.
The paved trail begins at the Robert B. Jones Industrial Center, just east of downtown. Starting your trip here is a breeze: there's plenty of parking, the trailhead is easy to find and the first 2 miles of the trail follow a gentle downhill grade along the Black River. A tributary of the Connecticut, the Black River powered mills in the 18th and 19th centuries, although today you're more likely to spot a kingfisher or blue heron than evidence of the mills.
At mile 1.5 the trail spans the Black River by way of a rustic former trolley bridge. Before crossing, venture off-trail for a visit to the 1795 Eureka Schoolhouse. It is the state's oldest one-room school. In the 1960s, crews moved the building to its present location and restored it. Open from May to October, it now serves as a tourist information center.
Beyond the bridge the trail takes a short detour on quiet Paddock Road before rejoining the corridor and passing beneath US 11. The Toonerville Rail-Trail continues for another 0.5 mile before reaching a parking area for Hoyt's Landing at the confluence of the rivers, a popular spot for fishing, swimming and canoeing. Beyond the landing, the trail crosses beneath US 11 once more, ending 0.3 mile later at US Route 5.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Springfield trailhead, take Interstate 91 to Exit 7 and follow US 11 north toward Springfield for approximately 2.5 miles. Watch for the Robert B. Jones Industrial Center on the right. There is ample parking here.
To reach the Hoyt's Landing trailhead from I-91, take Exit 7 and follow US 11 toward Charlestown, News Hampshire. Hoyt's Landing, and trail parking, is on the right.