The Willimantic River Greenway trail system is growing. On July 14, the Town of Coventry dedicated Riverview Trail Park, 30 acres of wooded floodplain between Riverview Drive and the river bank. A riverside trail extends a half-mile from the Merrow Road bridge to a park bench on a knoll overlooking the river. Along the way, the trail passes towering pines, prime trout pools, and scenic views of the river.
The town received this property in 1991 as an open space conveyance from the subdivision that created the new Riverview Drive. When the Willimantic River Greenway was launched in 2003, Coventry made a commitment to improve public access to this area. Since then, Eric Trott, Coventry's Director of Planning and Development, has coordinated the many projects that made this trail possible. An existing informal fishing trail was cleared and extended partway by the Coventry Middle School's Ecology Club, and the Coventry public works department built a footbridge over a side channel of the river. The trail needed another bridge over a tributary stream, so the town applied for and received a DEP Recreational Trails grant to build the bridge, as well as interpretive signs and benches. These were designed and built by Lee Loftis as his Eagle Scout project. The park entrance by the Merrow bridge now has a sign provided by the Ryan Ramirez Memorial Fund. The town’s public works department created a parking lot and cleared the entrance area. Thanks to these efforts, there is now a trail for all to enjoy. In the future, the town plans to further extend the trail, add interpretive signs and a publish a brochure about the trail.
After the dedication ceremony, Eric Thomas, DEP's Greater Thames Watershed Coordinator, led a walk and highlighted natural features of the river and wooded banks along the trail. This is a beautiful stretch of the river, so plan to visit soon! (See the Riverview Trail Ramble on the Recreation page for details.) Several benches offer pleasant spots to rest and enjoy a peaceful view of the river. The trail route is dry and level, but watch for rocks and stumps underfoot. Numbered signs will be keys to interpretive information.