Friday, November 4, 2016

Windsor Locks Canal Trail State Park

There are places you can't fully grasp until you look at them on the map. The Windsor Locks Canal Trail, which stretches 4.5 miles from Windsor Locks to Suffield, is one such place. The trail follows the old towpath of the Windsor Locks Canal, built to bypass the Connecticut River's Enfield Falls and completed in 1829. It is, essentially, a narrow road running between the river and the canal, past peculiar ghosts of industries past. And by definition it should be, apart from the beauty of fall's last burst of color and the intriguing glimpses of islands and currents on the river, pretty boring. It is, after all, nothing but a flat straight line.

But look at it on the map, and see how that narrow wisp of land stretches on and on, cut off from the world by water on both sides, and you begin to appreciate the almost eerie experience of walking it from end to end. You can go forward, or you can turn back, but you can't exit, and you can't make another choice. Until you reach the south end, with its looming textile mill buildings, or the north end, with its leafy park, you can only be here, between the still water and the flowing water, on a strip of dirt and pavement.

Is it creepy? Yes, in a way, and fall is the season for creepiness, after all. But it's also fascinating, and occasionally remarkably beautiful. 

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