a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Biking Northampton's Rail Trails; Norwottuck and Manhan


   My friend Rose, an avid biker, and I decided to ride the "rail trails" around Northampton, Mass. We parked at the Damon Road parking area in Northampton which puts you right at the hub of the trails. The Norwottuck trail goes east to Amherst, it's about 11 miles. Go west, and the trail goes thru Look Park in Northampton and north to Leeds. Go south and the trail leads to Southampton and there is another spur that goes out to Holyoke and the CT river.

  
   One of the picturesque stops along the trail going towards Leeds, it's an old dam. The stonework was pretty amazing.

     
   We followed this trail to the end, turned back and biked around Look Park, a very nice place for a picnic! Heading south, we biked down to Easthampton. We crossed the newest section of the trail, which is a bridge that linked the Norwottuck Trail to the Manhan Trail (the southern sections). Here's the story: new bridge
   
  
There are kiosks on the Manhan Trail that display a large map of the trail as well as maps for the taking. It's a very well paved, pretty ride.

double pink echinacea

   
   At the end of the trail in Easthampton, you can see where the trail will eventually continue, right now it's under construction. According to a source online, the trail will go all the way to New Haven, CT and it's 72% done! Won't that be a great ride!!

A victim of  "yarn bombing"
       
   We headed back and took the spur to Holyoke, it comes out on Rte 5 but we decided to return the way we came. Back in Northampton we stopped for some cold drinks and a rest before continuing on the trail back to where we parked and onto Amherst.

Northern Water Snake
   
   This trail goes over the CT River, is very picturesque but is older and has some bumpy sections. It's a really pretty ride, especially the part that  goes through the Lawrence Swamp. Last year when we rode this way, we saw Great Egrets, this year it was a big, black snake!

   
   Since I'm not up on my snake identification, I didn't get too close to take her picture. I sent it to the Mass Wildlife and New England Herp society sites to get an ID. It's a northern water snake and most likely a female.
  All in all, we rode 52 miles. The weather was perfect, the trails are very interesting and surprisingly, not many people were out on them. Of course, we did go on a weekday, I imagine on weekends the trails are busier.