More Air Line Trail South State Park Trail Travel Facts
Where to Stay
If you're looking for memorable accommodations check out the Bee and Thistle Inn (100 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, 860-434-1667 or 800-622-4946), Butternut Farm, (1654 Main Street. Glastonbury, 860-633-7197) or Fitch House (563 Storrs Road, Route 195, Mansfield Center, 860-456-0922).
What to Do
Our author Peter Marteka, a native of Connecticut, is a railroad history buff. He recommends checking out the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in Willimantic. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May-October, the museum includes locomotives and rolling stock, as well as vintage railroad buildings and a six-stall roundhouse reconstructed on the original foundation. Visitors can join a guided tour of the museum and operate a replica 1850s-style pump car along a section of rail that once was part of the Air Line.
Just down the road from the museum, along Route 32 near the intersection with Route 66, is "Frog Bridge." The bridge includes four 11-foot-high bronze frog statues sitting on giant pre-cast concrete "thread spools," testimony to the town's textile mill past. The frogs? According to local legend, one night in 1754 townspeople were awakened by loud screeching sounds. The next morning they discovered scores of dead frogs in a dried-up pond.
Near the northern section of the Air Line in Hampton is the 2,171-acre James L. Goodwin State Forest. Here you can take in some mountain biking, hiking, fishing, interpretive trails, a nature center and an observation tower.
Travel south on Route 149 to East Haddam, home of the incomparable Gillette Castle State Park. William Gillette's 24-room King Arthur-esque castle is here, commanding views of the surrounding park and Connecticut River.
The world's largest casino, Foxwoods Resort Casino, is located off Route 2 in Ledyard, about 40 miles from the trail. Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, is a bit closer.
Mystic Seaport, a museum celebrating Connecticut's maritime history, is located in Mystic, exit 90 off Interstate 95. Take in the Mystic Marine Aquarium while you're there.
A variety of bikes can be rented at Mystic Cycle Centre in Mystic (860-572-7433).