WILTON, Conn. -- December’s snow and ice have not held back the Norwalk River Valley Trail.
When I met Josh Ryan and his Timber & Stone construction team a month ago, they were making phenomenal progress on the half-mile demonstration trail between Orem’s Diner and Raymond Lane. Clearing blowdowns and excavating the trail were nearly done, surfacing was underway. But Josh warned that bad weather could set things back.
The bad weather came, but it has forced adjustments instead of down time.
I met Josh again last week. He walked us through his progress, quite literally. The sun was out. The woods were covered in snow and deer tracks. The trail too, at least where Alex and Emma were not busy surfacing it. We walked all the way to Raymond Lane, and noticed how the sound of Route 7 disappeared even without foliage to muffle it.
Those adjustments -- plowing as the first task of the day; sticking with a team of three for now; warming the team up with lunch at Orem’s. And Josh had to give up on the roller when a layer of frozen muck kept sticking hard to the drum.
Despite the challenges, progress is marked. The trail is excavated to within feet of Raymond Lane. Surfacing is nearing the finish line too. Now Josh is busy preparing the next big task – the 155 feet of boardwalk which will take the trail over wetlands.
The attention to detail is everywhere impressive. The demo trail climbs about 75 feet overall, necessitating a short section of 12% grade. To maintain full accessibility there will be a rest area here, one with a good view too.
Come out and have a look (the No Trespassing sign on Gaylord Drive South applies to vehicles only). But bring your boots. It will be messy after the thaw.
The Norwalk River Valley Trail will wind through Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and Danbury. The 38-mile trail will run from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Danbury.
Rob McWilliams is an avid hiker who lives in Fairfield County. His hiking blog is online