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For the northern section of the trail, parking is available in Springfield at North Riverfront Park (121 West Street) and at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1000 Hall Fame Avenue).
For the southern section of the trail, park at Borgati Park.
I'm from Northern CA and visit my uncle in Forest Park a couple of times a year. I have used the Springfield portion of the Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway every time I visit.
The drawbacks are that the Agawam portion (which runs along a busy street with most river views blocked by foliage) stops well short of the South End Bridge. The bridge itself is nearly inaccessible with only one narrow and dirty sidewalk leading down to West Columbus Street in Springfield. Neither child nor disability friendly.
As another reviewer noted, the sidewalk on Springfield's West Columbus Avenue is broken and filthy and continues for almost one-half mile past a GM dealership (Shame on you, Mr. Balise for the mess on your long sidewalk) along a very busy thoroughfare to LA Fitness just beyond the Basketball Hall of Fame. The latter two establishments are wonderful places to visit.
An elevator which was working behind LA Fitness for the first time last year (bravo to whoever took that initiative) takes one to a walk way over the Amtrak rail line.
I agree with those who complain that the 3/4 mile stretch to the south ends in a cul de sac which is unnerving if one is alone. What's the purpose in that?
I like the stretch to the north. Yes, there is some evidence of homeless people, but the police had a cruiser proceeding slowly along the path during my visit last week. I asked if there was a problem, and the officer indicated that they just regularly patrol the path during the daylight hours.
At the North End Bridge, a rowing club has been established and a new park is being created. Bikes and boats can be rented.
And then there is the final 1 mile to the Chicopee line --easily identified because the dike has been clear cut right at the border. this is a very peaceful portion of pathway. The neighborhood is a good one. The clear cut dike is super ugly -- but it offers a great view of the river. I'm rather glad the river walk doesn't continue along this, but its a pity that the vision for the full nearly 22 miles of river walk will not be realized within any reasonable time frame.
In sum, yes, this river walk is not perfect. But it is better maintained now that it was in earlier years. Security has also improved. It is very poorly marked which accounts for its lack of use. Yet, it remains in my view a great place for a bike ride or a walk with friends. I will use it again on my next visit.
I entered the trail near the Basketball Hall of Fame, where there is a bridge walk for pedestrians over the railroad tracks down to the trail. Nice vistas of the Connecticut river and bridges over the river. I walked to the railroad bridge and watched trains for awhile. However, did not like the homeless folks camping along the trail and near some of the bridge underpasses. I will not go here again.
The end of this trail is behind Balise Chev. and then a dead end. You could get 'trapped' here. They is no way out unless you head North again to one of the access points. The trail in Agawam was supposed to connect here but nothing was ever done. There is a sidewalk along the South End Bridge which is usually full of debris and the side walk in front of the car dealer is horrible.
I was told by the hotel clerk (Hilton garden inn) to stay off this trail anytime near dusk. So I ran on it around 10 am Sunday morning - this was the northern part of this trail. What've found were abandoned buildings, graffiti and very few people using the trail for which it was meant. NOW, the views the trail provides are beautiful. This trail just needs some work, it had some weeds overgrown. After the abandoned building his, the trail goes by some very poor neighborhoods and eventually it gets to some decent neighborhoods. However, this is where it ends. I like running outside and if you'd rather take a slight risk than run on the treadmill, keep your eyes open and you'll be fine. IF at all possible, run or bike with someone else. I did not feel comfortable on this trail mainly because I saw so few other people biking or running on what should be a time if high traffic. Be careful. If you have other options, use them. Or go with a friend. The trail itself is actually grata and offers great views. The development AROUNDthe trail needs to improve.
In response to krm’s review, Springfield Riverwalk advocates acknowledge that he has identified many of the trail’s problems: isolation, a sense of entrapment, ugliness, litter, trash and confrontations with members of the urban underclass. I am grateful to him for describing what he saw and experienced, because his review, coming from an outside observer, will be useful in shaming public officials into solving these problems, all of which have been repeatedly brought to their attention over the past three years.
I do wonder, however, whether his walks took him over all 3.7 miles of the trail from the Chicopee line all the way to the south terminus. I say this because the problems he describes exist in the middle of the Riverwalk around Clinton Street and to a lesser extent south of Riverfront Park, but do not exist north of the Clinton Street pumping station, between there and the Chicopee line. This section, accessible via the grade crossing at the North End Bridge (Route 20 or West Street), at Plainfield Street and elsewhere on Riverside Road, is well-maintained and borders a quiet, pleasant residential neighborhood.
So I cannot agree though with krm’s solution which is to take down the signs leading to it and caution visitors not to use the Riverwalk. That is, to abandon it. First of all, the Springfield Riverwalk constitutes 3.7 miles smack in the middle of the Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway, a projected 21 mile regional trail. The Riverwalk exists; it is paid for, and even were it to be abandoned, it would remain a trouble spot for the foreseeable future. A better answer is that the city and the region step up to challenges the Riverwalk presents today, and by solving them, turn this ugly duckling into the handsome swan it was meant to be.
I have walked the Springfield section three times alone and at different times of day. I am a 6 ft., 195 lb. male. All three times I felt uncomfortable and on "edge." The trail is isolated and not pretty. I observed litter, including condoms and well worn trash. All of my visits included close encounters with bad apples, not people excercising or enjoying a walk.
This trail is a disaster waiting to happen. All signs leading to it should be taken down. All out of town visitors should be steered away. I would not walk the trail with my family. Nobody should walk this trail alone and women should go in groups of four with cell phones at the ready!
On my last visit, a man turned around and followed me to the dead end at the South End bridge. I had the river on one side and a large fence on the other. The only way out was through him. I had my phone on 911 and prayed he was not armed. He looked hard at me and I at him, but he moved over. This was my last visit, I have a young family.
Local users of the Springfield segment of the Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway in Springfield would take issue with Jorbidy’s review of July 20, 2009. In a series of frank assessments over the past two years of this trail which runs the entire length of Springfield’s riverfront, odors have never been noted as a problem. And while it is undeniable that the central section has its share of urban “edge” including illegal dump sites and shady characters, sections north of West Street and south of Riverfront are well-maintained, well-policed and family-friendly. In fact, negative buzz and lack of use are two of this trail’s greatest problems, and it would be a shame if reviews published on the R-t-C site were to perpetuate them.
This trail is not too fantastic, and not very safe. The smell was overwhelming, and the trail was littered with garbage. The City of Springfield has a lot of work in order to get this trail up to par. Too many transients hanging around.
The trail is pretty much as others have said, it's certainly not the smoothest riding to be had. As for the trail ending suddenly, i remember around '87 or so that the MBTA wanted to run the franklin line further west, paid a large chunk of change to a consulting firm for a report that essentially said that the rail lines had been abandoned and that many of the abutters had legally claimed back the right-of-way. There is no reason why the MBTA wouldn't have been able to take back the land with eminent domain assertions, but they didn't. I don't know their reasons.
"You can ride south of the Rt.57 bridge for about 3 miles now. This bike-way is finished for about 2 miles along river rd. going toward 6 flags. Park at the Ed. Borgatti Rec. area or along the bike way just before it. With about 1 mile of side walk on the west side of the Conn. river. After crossing the river Rt. 57 bridge the trail starts almost behind Central Chev, but you have to ride side walk up to the station north of the Basketball hall of fame to cross unless you climb the stairs for the green walk way just before the Station. You can then go south for about 3/4 of a mile to a dead end and then turn north to ride all the trail to the Chicopee line. Hopefully they will finish going north to link with Holyoke's trail. The trail is nice riding on tar where it is finished and has some very scenic views of the river and bridges.
"The trail is not maintained during the winter (i.e., kept clear of snow). It's mostly shaded from the sun, so wait until all the snow is gone and you have your sunglasses on to ride and enjoy. Regarding another post, I haven't come across any undesirables that care to keep pace with my bike or my running on this trial. So far it's been safe for me."
"It's a nice ride for the great views of the Connecticut River, the Memorial Bridge and the train tracks. But because the trail is sandwiched between the river and the tracks, it tends be be almost secluded, and as such, there are occasionally undesirables around. If it was more used, perhaps it would feel a bit safer."
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