Trails Day Hikers Surprised

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Photo by Lester Smith

State forest supervisor John Guglielmoni unlocks the gate at the Windsor Locks Canal Trail State Park so an official group of walkers can hike the towpath on Trails Day, June 2. The first three in the queue are, from the left, Rep. Tami Zawistowski, Rep. Scott Storms, and Mrs. Storms. Other would-be hikers were surprised to find the sign advising that the popular trail was temporarily closed.

The Town website had announced that a group of officials would hike the Windsor Locks Canal trail on June 2 in recognition of Trails Day, the spring celebration sponsored by the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association. But things got complicated.

The trail had opened on April 1, as scheduled, at least down to the railroad bridge. (The lower mile is sometimes kept closed for another few weeks in deference to an eagles’ nest with fledgling eaglets.) But the trail is actually owned by Ahlstrom (formerly Dexter), which values the canal as a source of process water and power. Ahlstrom has allowed the towpath to be used in the state park. Unfortunately, the company had found it necessary this year to renegotiate its insurance contract for the trail because of the work going on in Windsor Locks converting the old Montgomery factory into an apartment house, and that negotiation was not complete. So a few days before Trails Day a sign appeared at the canal trail’s locked gate.

Through some quick action, permission was obtained for the official group to hike on June 2 as special guests, and a number of other hikers took advantage of the excellent weather and the open gate that day. When the trail will reopen for the summer has not yet been announced.

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