‘Discover Colchester’ hike attracts skiers and trekkers

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Mon., Jan. 6, 2014
John Barnowski poses in front of the historic River Road bridge, which carried trains over it back in 1887. Photos by Merja H Lehtinen.
John Barnowski poses in front of the historic River Road bridge, which carried trains over it back in 1887. Photos by Merja H Lehtinen.

About a dozen people gathered on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 5, to hike along the Salmon River on the Airline Trail in Colchester. The Colchester Land Trust hosts these “Discover Colchester” walks, which discuss the terrain and historical aspects of one of the largest towns in the area.

It was raining in the lower altitudes of town on Sunday, but only a barely perceptible light snow up on the ridge where the trail meets River Road on the Colchester-Marlborough border. The roads were slick, and the hills windy and steep - and that was just getting to the trail. The trail itself is fairly level; it ascends and descends moderately, so it is ideal for hikers of all ages, cross-country skiing, and trekkers. But the snow was still fairly deep on Sunday, especially at entry points, and required high boots and a steady balance.

Katherine Kosiba had her trekking poles ready and her hiking boots on for the 3 miles ahead and back again. "I am here for the fresh air and the exercise," she said.

Aaron and Cindy, and their dog Natasha, an aging dame, were game for the exercise as well. "I have always read about these walks, but wanted to come and try it out, so we're here," Cindy said.

John Barnowski, the trail leader, is a writer for Northeast Utilities by day and avid outdoors man in his free time. He was keen on the walk and scrambled to get everyone on their way before the weather worsened. Barnowski explained the Airline Trail is named after the Airline train, an historic route that went from New Haven to Boston via towns such as Colchester. The historic brownstone "River Road Bridge," built in 1887, "carried the trains 18 feet above the unpaved portion of River Road," according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website. Barnowski said he was unaware if the brownstone was from the nearby Portland quarries, but conjectured it may have been. Portland provided much of the brownstone for the whole east coast, particularly New York City and Boston.

As the light snow started to fall, all the hikers and dogs in tow disappeared around the corner and over the next hill. They would return in about two hours.

The Colchester Land Trust is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that works to permanently protect open space in Colchester. To join or contribute to the trust, go to: www.colchesterlandtrust.org.

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