Yes, Western Massachusetts, there is a rail trail in Westfield and Southwick, and I can tell you how to get there.
One of the most consistent visits to Pedal Paradise is via web search by bike riders for directions to the section of the New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail in Westfield, MA, called The Columbia Greenway Trail, and in Southwick, MA, called The Jog. Those bike paths have gotten good press about their development progress, and people are eager to ride them. But where the heck are they?
Yesterday, Avery and I drove down to Westfield to gather the information needed to find and ride those lovely bike paths. And they are lovely.
By the way, many thanks to Shaker Farms Country Club owner Nancy Kotowitz, who also serves on the Friends group for the trail, to allow this access through the Country Club. They’re got a nice grill there, maybe you’ll want to stop in for a snack.
Our report is after the jump, complete with driving directions, photos. Updated at the bottom with a comment from a reader on an alternate route.
I have to tell you, finding the current start of the Columbia Greenway Trail at Shaker Farms Country Club in Westfield was no easy feat. We got lost several times in a rabbit warren of housing developments, but finally figured out the correct way to go, and here with picture cues are directions for you to follow.
From the center of Westfield, MA, follow Massachusetts Route 10/202 south towards Southwick and Connecticut. It’s a couple of miles, and you’ll cross a small river bridge. After that, there’s another shopping center set of businesses on both sides of the road.
At the Quick Foods/Gigi’s Pizza on the left hand side, take a left onto Tannery Road.
[If you are coming from the south, going north on Route 10/202, there is a sign for Shaker Farms Country Club, but that sign is not visible traveling south.]
Follow Tannery Road until you see a sign on the left for Pioneer Valley Baptist Church. Turn left here. This is Ponders Hollow Road, which becomes Shaker Farms Road, where the Country Club is located.
The rail trail crosses Shaker Farms Road just before the Country Club.
The sign and entry for the country club are just ahead on the right.
Turn in here and follow the parking lot around to the right (you’re aiming for the far diagonal corner) to the access road to the parking for cyclists using the rail trail. In this photo, taken from the turn in off of Shaker Farms Road, the rail trail parking is at about 11 o’clock.
We didn’t find this parking for the rail trail until we were already on the bikes.
The bike trail goes north and south from here, though only the south portion towards Southwick’s The Jog and Connecticut’s Farmington River Greenway is currently open. I’ll put up more information later about Westfield’s bike path development northward progress towards downtown, but for now, you now know how to get there, and believe me, the ride is worth the effort to find it for you.
If you go, let me know if these directions were helpful, and how your ride was. Thanks.
Bruce D. from the MassBike Pioneer Valley email list wrote me this alternative route to the Congamond Road parking lot in Southwick – just across from Red Robin Hood’s Barn restaurant. This would also be the way to go if coming north on Rt. 10 from Connecticut and Southwick:
Gina, an easier way might be to continue down Rt 10 to Southwick to the light at McDonalds and go left for about 1 mile on Congamon Rd and you’ll cross right over the trail. There’s parking to the right and after parking, you can travel up to Westfield (about 5.5 miles to Shaker Rd.) or, you can go south all the way to Canton, Ct. I would guess that a round trip from Shaker Rd in Westfield to Canton would be about 70-80 miles.
Do remember to drop me a note of how your ride goes!