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The Rockville Spur, a section of Vernon Rails-to-Trails, is a stone-dust rail-trail stretching 4.2 miles into the heart of historical Rockville. The trail begins on Warren Avenue in Vernon, but you’ll probably start your journey 0.2 mile away, at the Vernon Rails-to-Trails Park on Church Street. The park was once the site of a train depot and today serves as the trailhead for Vernon’s rail-trails, including the Rockville Spur. At this outdoor museum, panels tell the story of the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad, and remnants of the railroad bring the history to life. It’s here, for example, that you’ll learn that the Rockville Spur was constructed in 1863 to serve Rockville’s once booming textile industry.
Once you’ve parked and sufficiently immersed yourself in history, it’s time to go. To get to the trail’s actual start point, just head west to Church Street’s intersection with Phoenix Street. Make a left onto Phoenix and then take the first right—that’s Warren Avenue. A signpost marks the beginning of the trail, and markers every 0.25 mile guide you along the way. Note that if you’re up for more riding at the end of your journey, you can pick up another trail from the park: the 20-mile Hop River State Park Trail.
Once you’re on the spur, you’ll exchange the suburban scene for a serene wooded corridor. At about 0.25 mile, you’ll come to the Maple Avenue intersection, the first crossing of several along this trail. Each intersection may require patience because there are crosswalks but no signals.
Once you’re across this street and back on the trail, you will come to one of the trail highlights: the bridge over the scenic Tankerhoosen River. This waterway was the economic lifeblood of Rockville during the town’s industrial heyday. The view upriver, with trees crowding its banks, is Tankerhoosen Lake, one of seven ponds on the river. It’s worth pausing your journey at this point to take it all in. Continuing on, you will come to the I-84 underpass, the only road crossing not at grade. In the space between the tunnels, you’ll find another treat: murals bursting with color on the walls, the work of local artists and schoolchildren.
The next intersection is across the busy CT 30 (Hartford Turnpike). The trail continues through the woods with unmarked paths feeding into it from nearby homes, proof of how popular this trail is with local residents. At the 3.25-mile mark (West Street), you’ll notice that the trail narrows into little more than a swath in the grass as it emerges into a residential neighborhood. Half a mile later, you’ll find yourself back in the woods where the path opens up again. Just shy of Vernon Avenue, the spur ends abruptly on an earthen mound atop an old bridge abutment. You can either retrace your steps back, or use the path on your left to go down the embankment (be careful; the soil is loose) onto Vernon Avenue.
To reach the Church St. trailhead in Vernon, from I-84 E, take Exit 65 for CT 30 toward Vernon Center. Turn right onto CT 30, and in 0.2 mile turn right onto Dobson Road, which turns into Washington St. After 0.4 mile, make a slight left onto Church St. The Vernon Rails-to-Trails Park will be on your left and includes a parking area, benches and picnic tables, and the outdoor museum. From I-84 W, take Exit 65 and turn left onto CT 30. In 0.3 mile turn left onto Dobson Road and follow the directions above from there.
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