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A proposal has been made to the Town of Manchester for the creation of a new hiking trail along Bigelow Brook.
As proposed, this trail would parallel Bigelow Brook from its source in Center Springs Park until it merges with the Hockanum River next to Hilliard Street. The new trail would then join with the existing Hilliard Trail. The total length of the proposed trail would be around 8100 feet, or about 1½ miles.
The proposed Trail might have the following characteristics:
- A tunnel under the railbed, adjacent to Edgerton Street next to Center Springs Pond, to accommodate both the Brook and pedestrian walkway.
- A stone dust path from Center Springs Pond out to Broad Street.
- A grade crossing with a pedestrian traffic light at Broad Street.
- A paved, accessible, lighted and landscaped walkway along the north side of the Brook from Broad Street to Middle Turnpike West, that might attract commercial, office and residential development oriented towards the Brook.
- A grade crossing with a pedestrian traffic light at Middle Turnpike West.
- A Woodland Nature Trail along the north periphery of the former Hilliard's Pond, from Middle Turnpike West to Adams Street, intersecting with the existing Purdy Nature Walk, being maintained by the Manchester Land Conservation Trust.
- A grade crossing at Adams Street.
- A paved, accessible walkway along the north side of the Brook from Adams Street to Hilliard Street, as part of the ongoing Hilliard Mills restoration project. This section might include antique-fixture lighting and outdoor seating benches.
- A grade crossing at Hilliard Street, where the hiker could then access the Hockanum River Hilliard Trail.
- The existing grass-surfaced hiking trail along Bigelow Brook and the Hockanum River with connections upstream to the Hockanum River Adams Mill Trail, and downstream to the New State Road Trail. This section would include benches facing the River, canoe and kayak access, and catch-and-release fishing, with parking at the corner of Hilliard Street and New State Road.
- Further in the future, it's hoped to include Greenway extensions beyond the Hilliard trail west, along New State Road and further along Center Street (Routes 6 and 44), Middle Turnpike West, over the I-84 street bridge to turn either left or right onto the crossing the existing multiuse trail.
- Also further in the future, on its other end, it's hoped that the Bigelow Brook Trail will connect with the Cheney Rail trail. With this connection, hikers will be able to go to the North End of Manchester, and then wind along the streets to the Hop River Trail, where they can then go to Rockville (via the spur), Valley Falls, Bolton Notch, and Willimantic.
Note: In addition to the portion of the Cheney Rail Trail shown above, readers can access a flyer used in Rail Trail hikes sponsored by the Manchester Land Conservation Trust by clicking Cheney Rail Trail flyer, to see its full extent.
The following enhancements are suggested for a Fish & Wildlife Corridor:
- Enhanced stream flow.
- Siltation control.
- Use of stones for waterfalls.
- Litter and junk removal.
- Creation of fish shelters.
- Landscaping at sewer and storm-drain structures.
- Increased shade over the waterway.
- Wider vegetation and ground cover buffer.
- Observation platforms.
- Use of fencing to control blowing litter.
This project would be done in concert with the proposed Bigelow Village Commercial, Office and Residential Park.