Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Directions

We decided to take advantage of the 40-plus degree weather and get in an overdue check-out of the recent additions to the rail trail circuit around Northampton.

We started out from the entrance near Taco Bell on King street. I'm still experimenting with the iPhone so although the regular camera was in tow, it stayed in the bag most of the time this trip, in favor of some more heavily doctored on-the-go phone pics. (Also, to forewarn, the pics and words on some of these posts might come out a little messy or quirky until I get the hang of posting from the phone...)

They've gone to some expense expanding the already great trail system, including several new bridges being built over the road and river crossings as needed. Two nearly identical truss-type bridges are on this first stretch between the route 5 access and downtown. The downtown bridge is particularly interesting with it's great view of Main street, that is, through the chain link fence lining it's sides to prevent droppage of all sorts onto the street from above.

The view is not wasted on local police, who were taking advantage of the vantage to keep a lookout.

The old railroad overpass that the trail parallels is still there, and due for a new paint job. The town is in the process of deciding just what to paint on it, just as many a grafitti artist has done over the years.

The trail now runs all the way to Texas street, almost at the Easthampton line. The plan is to eventually hook up with the Manhan trail in that town, creating a sort of pedestrian/bicyclist interstate (or intertown) system that can only be good for everybody involved.

Lots of interesting old buildings are found along the old railroad bed where they once served as people-employing/ goods-producing factories and warehouses, filling up or unloading boxcars.

Some of the buildings still standing sit idle, but most were renovated; like the old train station, that now houses a couple of quality eateries.

The recycling of these flat, straight, unused rail beds as pedestrian pathways is easily one of the best socially and physically healthy ideas to come down the pike in a long, long time. If only the big plan -linking all the trails from the berkshires to the Boston area- ever comes to pass...

'd be like one final gift of a bygone era.

1 comment:

Fishing413 said...

Gtrat post. Just thinking of them linking all the trails from the berkshires to the Boston area makes me smile. What an absolutely great idea. The resources are 80% already there! What a great bike ride that would be!