Archive | Area Trails

Nashua River Rail Trail

I started a little late to do the entire 12.5-miles, it is deceptively easy to go just a little further and then a little further than that. But it is deliciously straight and level, passing through everything from farms and wetlands to downtown Pepperell. The smell of freshly cut hay and farmlands are an added bonus.

The Massachusetts part of the trail goes through Ayer, Groton, Pepperell and Dunstable, and is managed by the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation. It is in exemplary condition save for a few frost heave cracks.

The northern section of the Nashua River Rail Trail continues into the city of Nashua and connects with the Mine Falls Park their 325 acre recreation park.

Mass Official Site


NH Seacoast Greenway

from Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes:

Saturday, September 20th is the official opening of the NH Seacoast Greenway, the first border-to-border marked route for the East Coast Greenway (ECG) in any state. To celebrate there will be two rides on the Greenway’s newly signed on-road route and a family walk in Portsmouth, all converging at Strawbery Banke Museum for a dedication ceremony at Noon.

The NH Seacoast Greenway is New Hampshire’s segment of the East Coast Greenway, envisioned to be an all-season, multi-use trail extending 3,000 miles through 25 cities along the East Coast from Calais, ME to Key West, FL – an urban Appalachian Trail.

The Inaugural is part of a full weekend of bicycling events in the Seacoast, including the Tri-State Seacoast Century Ride on September 20th and 21st, which will bring more than 1,600 riders to the area for their featured 100 mile ride and the Portsmouth Criterium bicycle race in Portsmouth’s Market Square on Sunday, September 21st, featuring some of the top pro riders in the country plus a slate of kids races and a lifestyle expo, annually drawing over 7,000 spectators.

It’s Bike Week(end) in the Seacoast! Come on out and celebrate the bicycle.

BTW: I will be among the volunteers this weekend (September 20-21) for the Granite State Wheelmen’s 35th Tri-State Seacoast Century – If you are doing any part of the ride look for me at Fort McClary on Saturday from 12-4.


Linking Together 2008

linkingtogether2008, originally uploaded by jgodsey.

I attended the meeting for the nascent Mass Rail Trails coalition or whatever it ends up being called, probably something emphasizing community recreational paths. About 75 people showed up representing about 30 plus trails, not bad considering rail trails are thick on the ground in Massachusetts; there are about 100 rail trail projects underway around the state.

The need and desire for an umbrella organization was pretty universal. It is necessary to combat the haphazard way that state and federal funding and policy making are handled.

One of the bonus features of a group of groups is communication, a couple of the volunteers from the Friends of the Bruce Freedman Trail and the Mass central Rail Trail org have created this happy little utility “Mass Rail Trail Database” ; which indexes trails, towns, contact information for organizations and elected officials.

Even as small as our project is, we were represented and will be included in future organization developments.


Clipper City Rail Trail

Newburyport’s Clipper City Rail Trail extends from the MBTA station north to the Merrimack River where it will eventually cross the river and connect to the Salisbury Old Eastern Marsh Trail.Newburyport has been working on this plan since well before 2001. Construction on phase two has begun this summer, but in phase one it seems already accessible, when completed the trail will be open to non-motorizes: bicycling, jogging, and walking.

(Clipper City Rail Trail site)


Salisbury Coastal Trails

Salisbury has a couple of rail trails in development, all part of the Coastal Trails network. The Ghost Trail (below) which enters Amesbury and the Old Eastern Marsh Trail which parallels Route 1 and goes into Newburyport as part of the Border to Boston rail trail project.

(click here for full uncropped map)

Recently they got a grant for these marvelous interpretive signs:

I will try to get out to the Eastern Marsh Trail tomorrow and get some images.


Maudslay State Park

I took the 40 year old Armstrong to Newburyport’s Maudslay State Park, not a rail trail but a nice walk in the woods nonetheless. The park is billed as a multi-use park which includes cycling. And it does, but a great many of the trails are a challenge, more suitable to fat tire and mountain bikes. Not that you can’t do them with a road only bike, but you may want to wear those padded bike shorts you bought but don’t wear cause they feel silly.

[download the PDF printable map]

I only did a few of the many trails, and the surfaces range from deep canopied woods with roots and mulch, to sand and rocks – I only had to dismount once for a rocky uphill but then I am more foolish than most. The trail markers are missing in most places, so PRINT the map and bring exact change for the $2 parking ticket machine.

It is a very very nice park, with many scheduled events.
Maudslay State Park site


Windham Rail Trail

The paving of this lovely shared use trail is nearing completion. Four and a half marked miles, and passable from end to end, it is heavily used compared to most other Merrimack Valley trails. On a Sunday, you will meet serious cyclists and soccer moms with strollers, but even on its busiest day there are long stretches of trail where you would swear it was you and the chipmunks listening to the water drip off the granite ledges.

The trail head for Windham’s Rail Trail is at the old Depot on Windham Depot Road. go figure.
When you see the big blue caboose you are there. The parking lot holds about 15 cars but the trail users are always coming and going quickly enough that spaces are always available.

The southern terminus is behind Cycles Etc on Rt 28. This is not an official trail head so parking during Cycles Etc peak hours would be considered rude and at your own risk.

Windham Rail


Derry Rail Trail

The Derry Rail Trail
Starts from behind the Depot Steakhouse on West Broadway, it terminates at Windham Road where it connects to the Windham Trail.

It is paved for much of it, as is the rest of Derry downtown Bike Loop, but even the unpaved section is walkable and even bikeable, if you don’t mind a few rocks and sandy spots. Given that it is flat and straight, it was surprisingly navigable on my 40 year old bike.

I did get stumped by the culvert though, the road rises up across the path like a stile, but the mountain bikers have conveniently carved ways around even that.

I cannot wait until the Derry Rail Trail Alliance has completed their fund drive, this Derry/Windham conduit is a lovely way to spend a late afternoon.

Derry Rail


Bike Maps

Rubel BikeMaps are carried in the better bike shops and I even would suspect Borders and Barnes and Noble would not be sold out of them from time to time. I picked up mine at Al French’s Moor and Mountain in Andover for about $12. It is most like a regular auto map, in size but the markings are all geared towards ‘slow’ speed recreation, campgrounds, ice cream shops etc. It’s practically a must have for picking local roads for safer travel. Of course they have an entire line, Boston, Cape Cod, Western Mass, etc…
The New Hampshire maps created by the NHDOT and the Bike-Walk Alliance of NH, are free and harder to acquire but just as useful. The Merrimack Valley map and the others in the set should be available for the asking at the rest areas such as the one on Rt 93 in Salem.

From the New Hampshire Department of Transportation website:

A new set of seven regional NH bike maps are now available from NH DOT. After nearly two years of meetings, presentations, state-wide hearings, inputs for various cycling groups, revisions, budget cuts, and other time-consuming projects, the new maps were available in time for the Bike/Walk to Work Day events on May 16. To ensure the maps reach bicyclists and not just tourists looking for a free souvenir that is soon trashed, they must be requested. Distribution will be made via the rest areas on the NH Interstate Highways, by contacting the DOT, and from other key NH locations around the state. BWA-NH is a member of the bike map steering committee and can testify that a lot of time and effort has gone into these maps. To be sure, they are not perfect and the state infrastructure is a moving target that cannot be reflected on a map which may be outdated before it is printed. To compensate for such, the NH DOT Bike-Ped web site will carry updated versions of the maps available for free downloading plus notation of corrections. Any problems or suggestions concerning the maps should be sent to the attention of Jerry Moore in the NH DOT Bike-Ped Office at


Lawrence Spicket Greenway

Groundworks Lawrence has been working to open up Lawrence’s greenspaces and link them by reclaiming the banks of the Spicket River. They expect to complete this lovely green necklace in the fall of 2009 with a park at Stevens Pond, adjacent to the Malden Mills/Polartec facility. This of course is conveniently where the southern end of the Methuen rail right of way begins. Methuen’s Rail Trail would link the New Hampshire trails to Lawrence’s greenway, and hopefully across the river to points south.

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