FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- In 2014, the Norwalk River Valley Trail opened two brand-new sections in Wilton.
The new sections – 1.1 miles in total from Orem’s Diner to Sharp Hill Road – are beautiful and already put to good use by the community. But the events and publicity surrounding their opening may have stolen the limelight from improvements made to the town’s oldest section of the NRVT.
The NRVT between Portofino and School Road combines utility and scenery. It’s a popular route between the schools and Wilton Center, and provides access to Merwin Meadows Park and the soccer field. The section from the Merwin Meadows parking lot to School Road through the Lovers Lane open space is particularly scenic, a half-mile of shaded track squeezed between the Norwalk River and rocky ledges to the west. It’s a favorite with runners, dog-walkers, cyclists, strollers and fishermen in all seasons.
Last fall, piggybacking on the Yankee Gas project to install a pipeline to Middlebrook, Cider Mill and the High School, Wilton Department of Public Works made significant improvements to this section of the NRVT:
The previous dirt trail has been replaced with a broad gravel track for about half the distance from Portofino to School Road. The new surface will be welcomed by everybody, but perhaps particularly by moms and dads with strollers and users with disabilities. The section of the riverside trail beyond the fork with the track up to Comstock Community Center remains a rough, dirt track all the way to School Road.
The stones forming part of the Route 33 bridge abutment at the trail entrance by Portofino have been put safely behind a new wall. Previously, the stones could find their way onto the trail, creating a hazard for users.
The NRVT’s plan now is for the Portofino-School Road section to become part of the west-side “Wilton Loop,” a combination of sidewalk, trail, and shared-use roadway creating a continuous trail from Allen’s Meadows to the Wolfpit Road-Route 7 intersection. Trail users will be able to reach Wilton train station on the pedestrian walkway planned by the town.
The overall NRVT project aims eventually to build 38 miles of multipurpose trail connecting Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Rogers Park in Danbury. Learn more about the trail at www.nrvt-trail.com.
Rob McWilliams is an avid hiker who lives in Fairfield County. His hiking blog is online .