Donate your bicycle

Right now the expenditures for the Methuen Rail Trail project are postage, paper, ink and printing, but we expect these to grow as our organization grows.

Think about donating that old bicycle in the garage or basement. Any adult bike, any age. We will clean it up, try to fix it and sell it to someone else to defray present expenses. Email info@methuenrailtrail.org to arrange a pickup.

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Mass Rail Trails Committee meeting

I have been invited to attend a convergence of members from all the rail trail groups in Massachusetts. Linking Together 2008 is being held on September 13th, in Leominster at the Doyle Convention Center, with the goal of sharing resources and forming coalition. For more event information visit the Mass Central Rail Trail site. Aside from the keynote speaker Richard Sullivan, the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation & Recreation, I am told there will be food. I am hoping that someone from our very tiny group will go with me. Please let me know so I can RSVP. info@methuenrailtrail.org

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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.

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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

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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 Trail.org

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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 Trail.org

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more Methuen Rail Tail views


behind acadia mill, originally uploaded by jgodsey.

I hiked the Depot to Lawrence Line yesterday, however the rail bed is absolutely impassable from Union Street to behind the Granite Ave Apartments. If you can get on the right of way, it’s a pleasant walk or ride on your mountain bike, that leads up behind Chase St, the Acadia Mill and Malden Mills area. The rail bed rises up to a point where you are looking down on Stevens Pond and the Spicket.

Rail Bed above the spicket

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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 http://www.nh.gov/dot/nhbikeped 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 JMoore2@dot.state.nh.us.

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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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