Fitness editorial -- Part 3 -- Ride the rail (trails)

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Timm Huffman
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Western Massachusetts landscape is littered with the remains of the days when rail travel was at its peak. One of these old rail lines has been converted into a modern day recreation destination.

     The Norwottuck Rail Trail, which runs from Northampton to Amherst, is an 8.5 mile paved recreation track that follows the former Boston and Maine Railroad right-of-way. This level pathway offers a great place to both work out and take in some classic New England scenery.

     I decided I would bike this trail. Before I could begin my ride, I first had to stop at Westover's Morale Welfare and Recreation center to rent a bicycle. For $15, I was able to rent a comfortable ride, a helmet and keep them both for the weekend.  

     Once I had loaded everything into the trunk of my car, I got on the highway and drove to Northampton where I started my ride.

     The trail starts on the western side of the Connecticut River and first passes over the historic 1,492-foot iron bridge. After crossing the river, the trail heads into low-lying farm lands with views of the Holyoke Range to the south. This portion of the trail goes through the Hadley Common. There are also some restaurants and shopping adjacent to the trail.

     After about five miles, the trail comes into Amherst where it passes by the Amherst College campus. This portion of trail also has one of the last visages of the old rail line at the Amherst railroad passenger station, located on the right of the trail just after passing underneath South Pleasant Street.

     Once past the old passenger station, the trail goes into a wetlands area, much of which is conservation area overseen by Amherst College. There is ample wildlife here and serene reflections of trees off the water. The parking lot is just on the other side of the wetlands. This is where I turned around and rode back to Northampton.

     While I chose to bike this trail, it would make the perfect destination for any other physical activity whether it be running, roller blading or walking.

     Whatever your preference, enjoy your beautiful surroundings and, most importantly, get fit. It's vital that we as Reserve Airmen are fit to fight at all times so when the call comes, we can answer.