Norwalk River Valley Trail Coming Along Briskly

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Things are moving along briskly for the Norwalk Valley River Trail.
Things are moving along briskly for the Norwalk Valley River Trail. Photo Credit: Contributed by Rob McWilliams

WILTON, Conn. -- Once again, trail is being laid down through the Wilton woods.

Last winter the half-mile Norwalk River Valley Trail “demo” section was built between Route 7 and Raymond Lane. Now it is being extended up to Sharp Hill Road. And, without winter freeze-thaw, things are moving along briskly.

On Trails Day, June 7, local volunteers cleared away brush and low branches to help Timber & Stone LLC get off to a flying start on excavation and surfacing. Now, says Josh Ryan – principal at the Vermont trail designer and builder – the subsurfacing has been put down along the entire length of new trail. That leaves top-coating and “naturalization” as the big items on his to do list.

Naturalization is making a new trail look like it’s been around awhile. And, in a sense, this one has. When I met Josh last week, he described how his team found the remnants of an old road in the woods off Sharp Hill, likely a farm track. The find was, says Josh, “like gold;” and now the NRVT will follow the line of this old feature along much of the new section.

And it is an attractive section. The new trail curves gently in the shade of hardwoods, passing stands of pine, wetlands and tumbledown stone walls. Josh is making the most of these features, exposing a wall here, a natural bench there, carving out resting places along the way.

There will be a 40-foot bridge over a tiny brook at the Raymond Lane end of the new trail. It may be that finishing this bridge will determine the opening date for the new section. But it is looking good for this summer, with Josh confident that top-coating and naturalization will be done by Aug. 1.

The NRVT project aims eventually to build 38 miles of multi-purpose trail connecting Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Rogers Park in Danbury.

For more information, visit the project's website at www.nrvt-trail.com.

Rob McWilliams is an avid hiker who lives in Fairfield County. His hiking blog is online.

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The NRVT is a great opportunity for our health, welfare and enjoyment. We will see thousands of people using the trail biking, walking, etc. However, we should also recognize the economic benefit. Looking at bicycle riders, especially bicycle tourists, the trail will generate millions of dollars (that's right millions) when completed. The Great Allegheny Passage which is 132 miles offers a view of what could happen here. People from 670 postal codes can be found on the GAP averaging $100 per day with hotel, food and other travel purchases. Since the NRVT connects to the East Coast Greenway, it will be easy for people to come/go to NYC, a Bicycle Friendly Community and as you know, a great tourist destination. To maximize the opportunity however, Danbury not only needs to complete its section of the NRTV, Danbury also needs a convenient path to get to start of the Putnam rail trail in Brewster. (Brewster and Danbury should work together on this) When this is done, retailers, hotel owners, etc. can begin to count the new revenue that will be generated. And, the towns along the trail can count the the new tax revenue generated by the tourist dollars. Botom line, he NRTV means business!