This 4 mile section is called the Canalside Trail. It's located along old factory canals in Montague. They had recently completed the final phase here. Even though it had gotten cloudy Sunday afternoon, we headed up to scout it out.
The trail begins on the Montague side of Barton's Cove, where there is a parking area and a waterside park. There was some kind of photo-meet going on, there were a lot of kids with tripods and cameras there on Sunday.
Don't ask me what this thing is...
The trail goes by the Turners Falls Bridge, and the Great Falls Discovery Center and Unity Park. Unfortunately the Discovery Center was closed when we were there.
The trail goes by a fish viewing area, then follows the canal.
The trail is nicely done, with tall black metal and wood fencing to keep people out of the canal. There are old factories on the other side. Farther on the canal gets wider, and the trail runs along some power lines. The land is nicely cleared, and the woods thinned out in this section. There were tons of Canadian Geese sitting in the water when we went by.
The first half of the trail suddenly seems to come to a halt at Montague City Road. There are no signs to direct you to the next section, yet. If we didn't know the trail was 4 miles, we would have thought it ended there.
We crossed over and down a side street on the other side. Down another street and past this old water tower, we saw where the trail continued on.
The trail from here is much more wooded and peaceful. The trees form a canopy above, very much like the Norwottuck trail in Hadley. Also very much like the Norwottuck is this railroad bridge converted to trail use. It spans a quiet stretch of the Connecticut river. According to a plaque, it was built in 1936.
Not too much farther and you reach the end. The trail empties out into a big train yard. You can go right up to the tracks and watch the trains roll by. These three engines were heading out when we got there.
In this age of liability and litigation, I'm guessing it won't be long before the rail yard is fenced off, for our own safety of course.
We headed back.
The trail was, overall, impressive. It had elements of the Norwottuck trail with the bridge and canopy of trees, the Eashampton Manhan trail with it's easy 4 mile length and fencing throughout. It even kind of reminded me a little of the Cape Cod trail, with the canal running alongside, (though much smaller and sans the boats).
The canal and rail-yard give this trail it's own distinctive character. It's another option for some outdoor activity, and a nice addition to the growing list of rail trails in the valley.