The sound of gently rushing water, birds singing and cars driving in the distance filled the air Monday along the Gee Whiz Rail Trail in McGraw.
While no signs are posted marking the entrance, village residents and visitors now have the chance to explore — at least a portion of — the newly opened trail.
The trail starts next to Trout Brook off Clinton Street Extension. To get to the trailhead, follow a gravel path immediately to the south and east of the bridge over the brook. The path will take visitors to an opening before the trail starts.
The trail extends 2.5 miles to Stillwell Road in Solon, said Julie Griffin, a Solon resident who owns the trail with her husband, Christopher. About a mile is now walkable as the rest needs to be cleared.
“I’m excited for the community to have an area for walking,” she said.
Griffin completed the purchase of the trail — which runs through her home property this year after working out a contract with owner New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway since October, she said.
Giffin said she wanted a trail like this in McGraw as she likes similar nearby rail trails, including the Lehigh Valley Trail at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville.
“Why not use some of this historical property for the community?” she said.
The trail shares the name of the first train to run between McGraw and Cincinnatus, dating back to 1897, Griffin wrote on the trail Facebook page.
“It’s going to do nothing better than to promote outdoor activity,” Griffin added.
Mayor Allan Stauber said the village Board of Trustees fully supported the opening of the trail.
“I think a lot of people in the village will use it,” he said.
Stauber said the trail could help drive economic activity in the village as people hike on the trail and then stop by stores for food, beverages and other goods.
“The village is behind,” Stauber said. “We want to support it any way we can.”
Griffin said she will post on the trail’s Facebook page — Gee Whiz Rail Trail McGraw, NY — asking for volunteers to help clear more of the trail at a later date. Details regarding the trail will be posted there, too.
She said in the future, she hopes to put memorial benches along the trail that commemorate friends’ children who have died in addition to informational posts about the former rail line and the trees surrounding the trail.
The trail, Griffin said, will offer residents and visitors alike a place to exercise and get some outdoor time in a serene setting.
“It can’t do anything but bring the community together,” she said.