The September issue of Trail Runner magazine has been out in print for six weeks. The issue features eight “Top Trail Towns.” This year’s eight are: Bend, Oregon; Lynchburg, Virginia; Duluth, Minnesota; Revelstoke, British Columbia; Tucson, Arizona; Manchester, Connecticut; Deadwood, South Dakota; and Truckee, California.
That isn’t a typo. One of my hometowns, Manchester, made the list. How? Well, it’s a short story. First, here is the link to the online version of the Manchester article that Meghan Hicks wrote. This link takes you to the directory/full story that she wrote.
Back in February, the editors of Trail Runner posted a simple question on their Facebook page.
This is what it said, “We’re gearing up for our Annual Top Trail Towns feature—what are your choices for the best places to live and run trails?”
That sounded like an invitation for a comment, so I did. This is what I wrote:
“Anywhere in CT. 825+ miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails maintained by Connecticut Forest & Park Association plus more are perfect for running. Great running communities and trail clubs too. Oh, and some awesome races including 30-year-old NipMuck Trail Marathon and 29-year-old Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. If you have to pick one of 169 towns, go with Manchester because it has the Hop River Rail Trail and an iconic 77-year-old classic road race that even the trail runners love!”
233 other people commented with their nominations, and I forgot about my own comment until May, when Meghan, an ultrarunner extraordinaire/writer, reached out to discuss Manchester. Debbie and I had a fantastic phone call with her, but we wanted to know more about her 2013 Marathon des Sables victory, so we talked about that first.
When we got around to discussing Connecticut, we couldn’t stop gloating about our state. I grew up in Vernon/Rockville, Debbie grew up in Prospect, but Manchester is one town over from Bolton, where we live now, and has the bigger name. When you live in a state like Connecticut, you love all of the 169 towns, especially the ones that you run, hike, and bike in.
I’ve always been suspicious of “top” lists. A west coast bias dominates the outdoor media and it bugs me. I was very pleased that Trail Runner selected Manchester to feature along with perennial favorites Tucson, Bend, and Truckee. I was even happier that Boulder didn’t make he list! I’ve actually been to four of these top eight, including three of them (Tucson, Truckee, and Manchester) in the past eight weeks. Heck, Porter Reservoir doesn’t look much like Donner Lake and Case Mountain isn’t Mount Lemmon, but we still have enormous beauty and culture too.
Connecticut has the best darn trail network in the country. Every year, we lead the nation in National Trails Day events, and that is in real terms. If it was measured per capita, we would be so far out front, it would be a silly measure. Regardless, it isn’t about volume; quality is what matters and we have that too. Our trails are rugged and beautiful and very accessible.
Meghan was able to only cover so much in a short magazine article, but we made the list and if you really want to know about Connecticut trails, then you have to read this blog every day! The Livingston’s are pumped to live on the Hop River Trail. We are glad that we have parks like Wickham to run in. We are blessed with awesome trails.
I shot some photos for the story. Clubmates from the Shenipsit Striders were helpful. We spent some time at Case on a lovely summer evening. Two images were published, including one of Debbie and Carly Stroich-Eisly, but a handful of others are included in this post. They are just part of a trail story that is still being told…