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Exploring the Rail Trail

An All-Access Pass to Westfield

Article by Amanda Waterfield

Photography by Willow and Grace Photography

Originally published in Westfield City Lifestyle

The Columbia Greenway Rail Trail Provides Recreation and Connectivity Through Westfield and Beyond.
The Columbia Greenway Rail Trail (CGRT) is one of Westfield’s most beloved
recreational facilities. Stretching 3.2 miles from just north of the Westfield River, through downtown, and ending at the Southwick line, the CGRT is part of a network of trails that, when completed, will stretch from Northampton to New Haven.
The trail began as an 86-mile canal that was built in the 1800s to transport commercial goods and travelers, according to CGRT chair Carmel Steger. “Our multiuse bike path railways were later built adjacent to the canals as a more efficient mode of transportation. Once cars were affordable, much of the railroad became obsolete. The rail trail is built on these old lines above street traffic so the raised elevation with eight bridges makes ours unique; there are only a few trails like this in the country,” states Carmel.
The CGRT sees a lot of traffic from surrounding areas, such as West Springfield and the Hilltowns, that lack their own rail trails. Connector segments near Meadow Street, Orange Street and Franklin Avenue will eventually provide increased access to and from downtown Westfield. The Friends of the CGRT plan to install signage directing trail users – many of whom are not local – to specific places in Westfield that are near the trail, such as Chrissy G’s Bakery, the Maple Leaf Pub, and Kismet Brewing Company.
The trail is supported by The Friends of the CGRT, which promotes education and usage of the trail through activities and events. Recently, the Ride of Silence was held to honor those killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. The Mayor’s Bike Ride was held in May to celebrate Bay State Bike Month, and in October, the Friends of the CGRT will partner with New Horizons Bikes to hold the Great River Ride. A Harvest Moon walk is also in the works for October.
The Friends of the CGRT recently donated an electronic bike to the Westfield Police Department for the purpose of enhancing safety along the trail.
To learn more about the events, developments, and community of the Columbia
Greenway Rail Trail, visit columbiagreenway.org.

The Friends of the CGRT plan to install signage directing trail users – many of whom are not local – to specific places in Westfield that are near the trail, such as Chrissy G’s Bakery, the Maple Leaf Pub, and Kismet Brewing Company.

  • beautiful views
  • local art
  • Great River Ride
  • E-Bike donation to WPD
  • Jose Torres Bridge naming ceremony