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fabulous day, Nov 9, 2013

By country pathways in November, 2013

Two old retired folks out riding, this time from Potter Place north to Danbury and return. Quiet, cool, easy ride. Quite a few others using the trail: walkers, bikers, joggers - good to see others enjoying it! Small hot fudge sundae as our reward.

First part of a long ride

By robertfeder in October, 2013

Rode the first 15 miles north out of Boscawan on a beautiful Wednesday in early October. Surface of crushed rock was very flat and well maintained - fewer bumps than most asphalt trails I've ridden. I even saw a municipal employee blowing leaves off the trail at one point. First 4 miles give intermittent views of farms and the Merrimack river. At 6 miles there are the interesting remains of an old train rotator off the trail on the left. At 7.5 miles beautiful views of Webster Lake, and at 12.5 miles beautiful Highland Lake awaits. At 15 miles the trail runs between two nice small ponds, which is where I turned around. Noticeable small uphill grade all the way out, which made the ride back easier. Saw only six other people, all on bikes, for the whole ride. My only complaint about this trail is that it is often in view and earshot of the highway, but it is quite scenic nevertheless.

A Rural Ride

By rk2976 in September, 2013

Rode this trail in a single day on 5/4/13 from S Boscawen to Lebanon. The southern end of the trail is especially remote with a surface of stone dust. Some flat sections in the middle of the trail were muddy and slower. The northern end of the trail is more heavily used with access to facilities. Overall, a pleasant ride through rural New Hampshire. Very wooded, lots of ponds, and quiet during the week. Pack snacks and water for the southern two thirds of the trail. That said, the Danbury Store in Danbury Depot is a great place to stop for sandwiches made to order near the midway point of this trail. Expect little to no cellphone signal from ATT & VZN over most of the trail.

Excellent Trail from Downtown Lebanon

By srmsrm in September, 2013

I live near the northern end of this trail and ride it frequently. The first eight miles makes a great round-trip ride.

There is plenty of free, paved parking at the start in downtown Lebanon, NH. The trail is hard-packed and well maintained. The ride is very scenic, through woods along the Mascoma River and Mascoma Lake, for the first eight miles out to the old Enfield train station.

For the next eight miles or so out to Canaan the trail remains very well maintained and occasionally very scenic. The woods do open up however, and for some stretches you will be pedaling in the sun if it is a hot day.

OK Trail

By votsek in August, 2013

I rode this trail several times from the Boscawen trail head. My longest trip was 25 miles in and 25 out. The stone dust is deeper and more loose than on other trails that I ride. I would recommend using a mountain bike rather than a hybrid or road bike. My first ride on this trail was on a touring bike with 700x35 tires and it was exhausting.

The trail is sometimes interesting, but lonely. The first 18 miles from Boscawen at least pass some lakes and the fringes of some towns. The upper 7 miles of my longest ride didn't have much scenery.

During the week, there are very few walkers or cyclists on the trail. I think there are a few homeless camped out near Franklin and maybe a couple of other places. It is the most lonely trail that I have ridden and the homeless don't give you a feeling of safety.

Nevertheless, I still plan to bike all the way to Lebanon and back some time in the future.

Lebanon - Enfield

By jharmuth in July, 2013

My wife and I ( the slowskis) biked this trail round trip from Lebanon ( parking - riverside road lot) to Enfield ( 8 miles, round trip) ) in July 2013 in 2 hrs 45 min.
Track was very good even after a lot of rain in the past few days. Hybrid bikes even with 35mm wide tires are good as there is little sand if any. Views along the river and Mascoma Lake are great with plenty of benches to take in the views. Very slight grade from Lebonon, hardly noticeable.
Of the 3 trails we biked this week including the Sugar River trail and Cotton Valley trail this has the best views and track.

A Great Ride on a Hot Day

By graniteman in July, 2013

We rode the trail from the northern end (Lebanon) to the southern end (Boscawan) and had a great day. A couple of observations:

1. The Danbury Country Store is a great place for a break. Good food, fair prices, and genuinely friendly staff.

2. Don't bother trying to ride it south of Gerrish Depot. The roadbed is still just the ballast from the old railroad and is virtually unrideable, even on a mountain bike. We turned around, took a break down by the river and called it a day.

Tale of Two Trails

By bikinggrandma in October, 2012

As new part-time residents of NH, my husband and I have enjoyed biking on this trail many times in the past couple of years. The Grafton County part of the trail can be rough in sections and we had the misfortune of blowing tires on 2 different mountain bikes (one brand-new) near Mascoma Lake this summer. There are maps all along the way and plenty of food between Lebanon and Canaan. We often plan to ride this section on Sundays and stop at the Farmer's Market in Canaan for lunch. The Merrimack County section is a nice, wooded ride, but lacks signs/maps and there are very long stretches with no access to food or places to stop. We now know to bring snacks and lunch on this section.

By enfield in September, 2012

We parked at the Park & Ride today and rode the trail from Andover to Franklin; great trail. It is nice to be able to stop and enjoy Higland Lake and Webster Lake. Otherwise not really much to see. Someone does a great job with the upkeep of the trail !

By stormc in August, 2012

Tuesday July 24, 2012 two friends and I rode the rail trail from Potter Place 14.8 miles to its end at Webster Place in Franklin. The trail surface was very good for the 6 miles to Highland Lake and excellent beyond that. (on my 1 inch tires) Granny Judy's Kitchen on Rt 3 across from Benson Auto in Franklin was recommended for Lunch. 12 miles from the RR station, go N on Chance Pond Road, 1st R on N Main St (11/3A) for a block. It's on L. We found out it is closed on Tuesdays. :( The trip to Franklin took an hour and a half of easy riding each way. Franklin is 350 feet lower than Potter Place, so noticeably more energy was expended on the return trip, but it was never enough to be called a hill. Some beautiful scenery, mostly pristine. Nice ride. Storm Connors

Nice historical site at Potter Place

By kltron in June, 2012

I rode the Winnipesaukee Rail Trail from Tilton to Franklin, then on-road through Franklin to Chance Pond Rd. to pick up the Northern Rail Trail for a ride to Potter Place in Andover, NH. It was a scramble up from Chance Pond Rd. to the Northern Rail Trail atop a railroad bridge, and I was greeted by a smooth crushed stone trail with a concrete mile marker nearby (the trail in that section has been graded and resurfaced recently, and the work is heading south to reach Concord, NH). I hopped back on my hybrid bicycle and rode northwest. Much of the trail is isolated and wooded with the occasional street crossing, but for stretches it parallels and crosses local routes, which you can sometimes see and hear. The trail's surface changed to slightly larger stone for a short while, and for some stretches it was more like an old dirt road with a variable surface, but it was still very passable on a hybrid. There are several bridges over water and several underpasses beneath roads, including one trestle that crosses very near a covered bridge. After a short while I encountered Webster Lake, where you can hop off the trail and stop for a swim if you like. Further up the trail is Highland Lake, and beyond that the trail turns rather dry in the hotter weather. There is little canopy, so have plenty of water handy--bring what you need, as there are no stores visible from the trail pretty much all the way from Franklin to Andover. I rode into Potter Place in Andover, NH, passing some short sections of track that are in place as part of this historical section of town, and one siding had a boxcar, another a caboose. I discovered that the station and the old general store were open as historical exhibits, a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays. It was great to look at the railroad station as it was years ago, the same with the caboose out back and the general store across the street. The people from the Andover Historical Society were delightful and gave me tours. Had I not been so worn out from the hot, sunny ride I would have spent more time chatting, but I opted to go lie down at the picnic table near the station and have a late lunch. Someone has created a small garden in a shady cellar hole near the picnic area behind the station, making the picnic area relaxing after your ride. As the day was wearing on, I hopped back on the bike and made my way back to Franklin and then the Winnipesaukee River Trail to where I parked the car in Tilton, a total of about 34 miles round trip.

Great trail!

By 123lui4ge in December, 2011

Over the past few months I've ridden - on my son's hybrid... - from West Franklin to Mascoma Lake in 15 to 20 mile stretches. This is the best rail trail I've been on - solid surface of crushed stone, quite wide, only rare spots of sand or water and those easily navigated. Downed trees from this fall's storms were almost all cleared up, or at least clipped to give a tunnel. I could simply cruise along and enjoy the scenery and the quiet. I had a great time. Heartfelt thanks to all who created this and maintain it!

Lebanon east to Mascoma Lake

By charlespalmer51 in October, 2011

Columbus weekend foliage is looking good so my wife and I decided to take a ride on the Northern Rail Trail from Lebanon. We were pleased to find ample parking at the trail head in Lebanon. We have tadpole recumbent trikes that have 16" slick tires which were not the perfect tires for the dirt pack surface but it was ok. As we made our way along the trail we stopped at the many bridges for a view of the Mascoma River and foliage. After an hour we decided to turn around just short of Mascoma Lake and found the ride back to be much easier, slight downhill grade, which was much appreciated.

Northern Rail- Merrimack County August 17, 2011

By youker in August, 2011

The first couple of miles from Zaccaria Road are a bit rough but no problem for a hybrid. The rest of the new trail surface is covered with small crushed stone which I found took a bit more effort on petaling because of the loose surface. It is a wonderful trail with nice scenery and general stores for supplies and meals esp. Danbury. There is a much better start to the trail in West Franklin than behind the Congregational Church which requires a very steep up hill. If you drive just a bit farther down (south) on Rt. 3 to a right turn on Depot Street and driving a short distance and swinging left a few yards and turning right through an underpass and then turning left on Wells Ave. you will see the entrance to the end of the trail immediately on your left. There is more trail futher south but it is big stones and not good for biking. They hope build several more miles when they get the funds. All of this shows up very well on the Google maps enlarged. Youker

Eastern part

By youker in August, 2011

Last August I did the part from Canaan west to Lebanon and this year I finished the trail from Canaan east to the county line at Zaccaria Road The trail was a bit rough but fine with a hybrid bike. The last two miles from Grafton to the county line was a bit rougher with slightly larger stones. There is parking at Zaccaria Road. There is a nice general store in Grafton right on the trail. I then continued on the Merrimack County section to Potter Place. Youker

osborn2ride

By laretha in July, 2011

I did 15 miles up from Franklyn for a 30 mile round trip and had a great ride. It was Monday July 18th and there was nobody on this trail. I did not see my first person until 11 miles in and only past about 7 people on my round trip. This end of the trail in not as pretty as the north end but it is still a nice ride. I was on an old Mt bike with a road tire and it worked great for me.

osborn2ride

By laretha in July, 2011

I did the trail on 16th of July with my brother, his wife and there two children, Patric age nine and Ann age eleven, it was a beautiful day and there was a ton of traffic on the trail. The best was a guy with a tag along, with a four year old and a nine month old in a seat on his handle bars. This was one of my very first Rails to Trails and has a fond spot in my hart. You could do it on a road bike but you would need an aggressive tire. My brother was on his Hybrid, I was on a old Mt Bike with a street tire, both girls where on Mt bikes. Lots of shade and you pass Mascoma Lake and there are a couple of spot that you can go in for a swim.

Northern Rail Trail Grafton Cty

By youker in August, 2010

I submitted a picture of the start of theGrafton Cty part of the trail at Zaccaria Road at the eastern end which is clearly passable with a hybrid bike and where there is parking off Rt 4. I also submitted a picture to the Merrimack web site taken in the other direction at the same point where the Merrimack section of the trail is clearly grown up. There are plans to work on this section of the trail soon. Youker 8/25/2010

Northern Rail Trail - Grafton County

By youker in August, 2010

I did the Canaan to Lebanon 13.5 miles one way in an hour and a half on 8/24/2010 of this wonderful unpaved trail along the Mascoma River and Lake. The section from Enfield to Lebanon is more heavily used and in better condition, although the section west of Canaan was no problem for a hybrid bike. I saw a lot of road bikes on the Enfield section. The trail is level or gradually downhill from Canaan with good views of both flat and white water river from the many bridges. The section along the lake is particularly scenic. The small maps at the little kiosks at some parking areas give good mileage but the sign at the start in Lebanon near the town green is totally wrong. At Enfield there is a 20 foot dam and a very large old textile mill. The trail runs close to Rt 4 with many places to connect even though the highway is very hilly. Youker

osborn2ride

By laretha in July, 2010

I have used this trail twice and it is one great trail. The Northern Rail group has done a great job and it is a very easy ride. It is family friendly and a cross over bike is ok.

Parking directions

By pilots48 in July, 2010

Road the entire trail yesterday. Was as the previous post stated. As for the parking directions here is the correct version on the Grafton end. If you want to go the 23.8 miles as stated, take route 4 into Danbury, NH. and park at Zaccaria Rd.. Danbury is just East of Grafton and if you look for Zaccaria Rd. on your GPS in Grafton you won't find it. You will see a town line marker when you are on the trail. Not sure what store they are talking about but there is nothing across the street. The Lebanon half of the trail is the most improved. The trail does continue East of Zaccaria Rd. but not very well kept up. I did not take that end of the trail. As for parking off Depot st. that is also in Danbury opposite Ragged Mountain Hwy. That would add about 2.8 more miles length to the 23.8 mile trail.

A dream

By Woodchuck in November, 2009

This trail is an absolute dream for bikes. We rode it this fall end to end and have no complaints. Nice country side, beautiful views, especially along Mascoma Lake. Good parking at various places along the trail. Can't wait for the trail to be extended all the way to Franklin.

Nice trail but rough

By Woodchuck in June, 2009

Nice trail for biking but very rough at times. The trail has extensive use by horses and the divots from their hoofs create quite a bit of vibration on a bike. However, with only one major road crossing it is a very enjoyable trail.

Riding the Northern Rail Trail Between Potter Place and Dyer's Crossing in Andover, NH

By aabernhard in May, 2009

The two best places to start on the trail are either the restored Potter Place RR Station on the Northwest end or from the Highland Lake Inn www.highlandlakeinn.com near the Southeastern end. Both have parking and bathroom or porta potty facilities. The Inn happens to also be a very good European style place to stay if you are there overnight.

If you start from the Inn, go two miles south through the most beautiful section of the trail to the end at Dyer's Crossing, then turn around and go the full eight miles to Potter Place. There is a convenience store near the Inn and another in Andover, an easy half mile off the trail. Proctor Academy, an independent private high school, is also in Andover. There is a covered bridge and a swimming hole about a mile west of Andover.

From the Potter Place end you can add another 10 miles or so of back paved road riding around Wilmot.

Funds are in hand to extend the trail another two miles toward Franklin in September of '09 and another eight miles toward Danbury in '10.

A sweet trail

By RussNelson in September, 2008

I rode on this trail while my wife shopped at Patternworks, over in Center Harbor. Only had time to ride 7 miles of the trail. The eastern end of this trail stops at the county line. The railbed continuing east is legally accessible, and is probably usable by snow machines, but still has the ballast. I've ridden on ballast before and it's no fun. They have plans to replace it with rock dust in 2010.

I rode in the direction of Grafton and had a great ride. Encountered a few walkers, and the day before (driving in) saw a few other bicyclists. Not a busy trail, but a nice trail. Plenty of interesting railroad artifacts. Took photos of all but the whistle post east of Grafton, uploaded them to Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/russnelson/tags/northernrailtrail/

There's a nice treatment of a former at-grade crossing. They rebuilt the highway bridge over a stream just off the railbed, and left room on the side for the trail. So there's a slope down, a bit of rusty drainage, and a slope back up, but no cars.

One of the best

By Fletch6 in October, 2007

"I biked from Lebanon to Canaan and back today and was amazed. This trail is the most scenic and best I have explored in NH. the weather was perfect and the packed surface was smooth and could be used by a road bike. In fact I was amazed by how many were out on the trail today a week day and about half were on road bikes.
we stopped in Enfield for lunch and are going back soon to do the east end. Trail is up hill from Lebanon to Canaan and then you can roll on the return. Lots and good parking at the end at Lebanon. "

Hot but great

By in October, 2007

"Rode from Grafton north to Enfield today. trail was great, saw geese gathering in orange getting ready to fly south. songbirds everywhere collecting wild cherries. I have walked and ridden the full length of the trail several times and keep visiting again.

Bridge work in Canaan on September 8, 2007 to redo the deck. All are invited to help"

Amazing

By in May, 2005

This is an absolutely beautiful ride. I bike from Goose Pond Road to Lebanon once a week going to work and hope to do it twice a week. It's such a wonderful way to start the day!! The trail is very well kept and it's so beautiful just riding by the Mascoma River and Lake. It makes my day!!

New things on trail

By in July, 2004

"I walk or bike the trail several times a week. Use caution at the ""double bridge."" The railing supports have broken on one bridge. At the trailhead at Mascoma Lake a family of beaver have built a dam and lodge adjacent to the trail opposite the lake. In the evening the beaver can be watched working in the pond"

Beautiful trail

By in October, 2003

We biked this trail from both ends. It is absolutely beautiful from the Lebanon end going in with Mascoma Lake. The leaves were changing colors and we really enjoyed the trail bed itself. There is a nice hard surface for bike riding.

Excellent!!

By tom298 in July, 2002

"Well maintained, super views, particularly the section from Lebanon to Canaan. Need mileage markers and better signs to off trail services. Start at Lebanon and you will have slight downgrade for last four miles of return trip."