December 2016 Status Update
The 3-1/2 mile section in Blackstone, Millville, and Uxbridge that the state contractors have been working on is now complete and open. There are parking lots at Blackstone Depot (off of Canal St.), Central St., Millville, and Adams St., Uxbridge. The now complete trail section extends from just south of St. Paul St. in Blackstone to Adams St. (just before Rte. 146A) in Uxbridge. Very nice. The project also includes a playground at Old Mendon St. in Blackstone where the Friendly Market is adjacent for refreshments.
Also, the Route 126 tunnel in Bellingham is now complete and very nice. In November, DCR employees and FBRTC volunteers cleared 0.3 miles of the trail west from Fox Run Road to a gas line crossing in Bellingham. The surface is still rough.
As to the Castle Hill Way situation, DCR owns an trail easement on the mile or so of right of way from Main St. to Farm St. in Blackstone. This easement is on file with the Worcester County registry of deeds. The condo association owns the surface of the western 1/2 mile, the town of Blackstone owns the eastern 1/2 mile. But, the issue with dogs is that some owners do not clean up after their animals. This is also a continuing issue on the stone dust section between Center St. and Lake St. in Bellingham. So folks resent this. If you do not like the negative attitudes, you only have other dog owners to blame.
Now that the new trail is open, a description of how to span the remaining gap is in order.
Going east from the Depot parking area in Blackstone: Go down the entrance driveway to Canal St. Turn right and follow to St. Paul St. Turn left and follow St. Paul St. past the town offices and across the river to the traffic light at Main St. Turn right and follow Main St. to Castle Hill Way just after the CVS store. Turn left and follow Castle Hill Way to where the pavement curves right. Continue straight ahead through gate on to trail.
Going west, at the end of Castle Hill Way, turn right on Main St. and follow to the first traffic light. Turn left on St. Paul St. and follow to just short of the overpass. Turn right on to Canal St. and follow to the parking lot entrance just before the river bridge. Turn left and enter the parking lot with the trail on the far side. Turn right on to the trail.
A January 2016 status update
From east to west. Last fall, the trail was cleared of vegetation from Grove St. to Spring St. in Franklin. In November, an eagle scout project installed 1/2 mile markers from Grove St., Franklin (0.0) to Woonsocket Jct., Blackstone (5.0). In Bellingham, installation of a stone dust surface is now complete for over 3/4 miles from Lake St. to Center St. Straight as an arrow, a delight and sign for the future.
At Rte. 126, Bellingham, the tunnel is basically complete with removal of the old bridge and rebuilding of the road to follow this spring.
The engineering study of the Blackstone Viaduct found it in good condition. Detailed plans and estimating to follow. The 3-1/2 mile rebuild between the Depot in Blackstone and Rte. 146A in Uxbridge is almost complete with added steel placed on the river span of the Triad Bridge. Final painting, decking, and railings of this bridge in the spring. The Main St. bridge and Church St. tunnel are complete. Ribbon cutting expected in June. In Uxbridge, studies are underway on how to close the Rte. 146A - Rte. 146 gap.
In Douglas, trail clearing and surface reprofiling has now reached eastward to West St., Uxbridge.
Rte. 146 detour
Between the west side of Rte. 146 and the east side of Rte. 146A in Uxbridge, SNETT travelers have a mystery to solve.
Going west, a traveler should descend the end of the fill to Rte. 146A. Then turn right and go north along Rte. 146A for 0.2 miles to the first left. There turn left on Balm of Life Spring Rd. to the next intersection. There turn left again and proceed along Elmwood Ave. for about 0.45 miles passing under Rte 146 and reaching a five street intersection. There turn sharp right on to Colonel Dr. and travel 0.15 miles to the end of the road. At the end of the road, turn left on to a woods road over a low hill next to the highway fence for about 0.2 miles to reach the SNETT west just west of Rte. 146. There, turn left for Douglas and Connecticut. The trail between Colonel Dr. and the SNETT is on state owned land.
Going east, about 0.7 miles east of Aldrich Street and about 0.2 miles east of a power line, but before the highway fence, angle right on to a woods road on state owned land and follow southeast alongside the highway fence for about 0.2 miles to the end of Colonel Dr. Turn right and follow Colonel Dr. to a five way intersection. There, turn left and follow Elmwood Ave for 0.45 miles under Rte. 146 to the second intersection. Turn right on to Balm of Life Springs Rd. and follow to Rte. 146A. Turn right and follow highway south for 0.2 miles. Just before the highway on ramp to right, turn left up the fill to gain the SNETT east.
A further status update 7/26/15
Work has been continuing since my January update. In Bellingham, work has begun on the replacement of the Route 126 bridge with a tunnel. The contractor is on site, utilities have been moved, trees have been cut on both sides of the highway, and construction signs erected. Between Center St. and Lake St, the water line has been installed and final surfacing of the trail is expected in August.
In Blackstone, a new bridge has been installed over Main Street and the nearly Church St. Tunnel is nearing completion. In Millville, the Triad bridge has been sandblasted and prime painted. Finish painting is underway. Also, the trail has been paved between Rte. 146A, Uxbridge, and Central St., Millville.
A status update
Much has been happening on this trail, so let's update from west to east. In 2015, there is a grant to clear and improve the trail between the CT line and Wallum Lake Road. In 2014, the trail was cleared and graded in Douglas between South St. and Monroe St. In 2015, this will be extended east from Monroe St. to West St., Uxbridge. In the fall of 2014, the trail was cleared between Rte. 146A, Uxbridge and Factory Pond, Blackstone. The Triad bridge in this section will be rebuilt in 2015. In August, 2014, a contractor completed work on rehabbing six bridges in Blackstone, but they are not yet open for use. Also, the fill at Church St. Blackstone was removed. In 2015, a tunnel will be installed at Church St. and a new bridge built across Main St. These changes along with surface work will provide a paved trail between Rte. 146A, Uxbridge and St. Paul St., Blackstone by the end of 2016.
Further east, the town of Bellingham has begun work to install a water main in the trail between Center St. and Lake St. The water main project will conclude with rebuilding the trail surface between those streets. Currently, a project is beginning to clear and improve the trail between Lake St. and Prospect St. Also, the highway overpass at Rte. 126 in Bellingham is scheduled to be replaced by a tunnel in 2015. There is also authorization (but not funding) to replace the fill at Prospect St., Franklin with a tunnel. Other improvements are proposed.
Good but not great.
I tried doing this trail with my friend starting at 146 and going West. She has road tires on her Trek and was unhappy about the trail We got about 2 miles in and turned around. It wasn't fun.
Then a couple days later I tried it on my own (I have hybrid tires). I started in E. Thompson, CT (parking at a lot near 649 E Thompson RD.) and rode East. This was the roughest ride Ive taken and not made for road bikes or the casual rider. Deep sand, rocks, and "whooptie-doo's" throughout the 7 miles I rode before turning around. There were a few stretches of fairly smooth riding but not enough.
On my way back, I hiked the 0.3 miles to the tri-state intersection - MA, CT, and RI. There's a monument there, where I took a photo and a video. This was a long 0.3 and I had to carry my bike most of the way. But I made it!
I mostly ride for the exercise, and of course the fun. This trail was definitely a work out! I looked at it as a challenge after trying the first time. I'm glad I tried it again but I'm not sure I would go a third time.
I want to try the CT side of the trail soon, at the same starting point.
Trail under development
I've hiked all of the trail from Franklin to Putnam, CT. If you don't like the Franklin end, you really won't like the final part at the Putnam end. But this is all state owned and under development. Any No Trespassing signs are probably a reaction to the dirt bikes. The wash board effect also is from the dirt bikes. When the grade is on a fill, the less compacted earth gets rutted. When it passes through a cut, it won’t. At the east end, the trail groups have worked their way from Franklin through Bellingham. Blackstone is next. If you are confused, go straight ahead. There is a missing bridge where the trail crossed the Blackstone River for the first time and another at the crossing of Rte. 146. But, the state is working now to rehab and redeck four bridges in Blackstone with more to follow, These are included in the section that will coincide with the Blackstone River Greenway (Bikeway). If you like the potential of this route, join the friends group and lend a hand.
Dirt bikers run you off the trail
On 4/25 I wanted to run 4 miles along the trunkline beginning at Grove street, Franklin. It was a perfect spring day---65 degrees and sunny. As soon as I started running, a man leaving the trail said, "Watch out for the dirt bikers." I didn't hear any bikes so I continued on. I should have heeded his warning. The trail has large rocks, moguls, and lots of muddy sections. It was not easy terrain for running. I pushed on until Lake Street---then I turned around. At this point, I heard the dirt bikers in the distance. When they approached me, they made as much noise as possible and tried to get as close to me as possible. One of them actually tried to kick me.
Yes they need a place to ride and yes, if they slowed down when they approached pedestrians, I'm more than willing to share the trail with them. Now because of these individuals, I want them banned from these trails. So much for a nice springtime run. I'd rather run on the road and deal with cars.
just wondering what you horse riders, mountain bikers, and hikers, paid to register your horses, bikes and running shoes? your not paying into the state extra to maintain the trails yet you complain if an atv uses it, ya know the state is taking away all legal places to ride but still insists on charging for atvs to register. I've used this trail system for 15+ years and used common courtesy to other users when on an atv, and expect the same when im walking. All im trying to say is theres bad atv riders, and theres respectful atv riders, don't be so closed minded, just like theres bad truck drivers and theres and good should they be banned from the roads?
Second Trip a Success
For a second time on November 27th, today, i went on the bike trip with a group of my high school friends, all 16, juniors. We started in Franklin MA and had some slower bikers with us that slowed us down. We left at about 7:45 and made it to the Quaker Highway in Uxbridge at about 10:30. Me and one of the other more experienced bikers kept going but the trail was very muddy and almost unrideable. We were a good 8 miles from CT, which was our goal. We biked a total of about 33 miles, 12 short of the whole thing. The ride back only took 2.5 hours from McDonalds in Uxbridge, but it felt much shorter, and we also dropped the slower riders. This course is not easy but can be tackled with determination and grit. Our goal for the summer is to complete a full round trip, all 45 miles, in one day. The trick is to bring bikers who are the same level as you and know where to stop and how to pace yourself. We think a round trip is do-able but it will really test our strength.
Some side notes:
-The sign for SNETT off of Aldrich street in Uxbridge is in the wrong place. It's a yellow sign with a Horse Crossing sign on it. It leads up to a big electric tower. The sign should be about 20 yards down the road where the trail is.
-All truss bridges are easily avoidable.
-There is a McDonalds on the Quaker Highway
-Best weather to bike this course is on a sunny day with little wind. I am going to try to go when there has been little rain during the week and go on the weekend so that the trail is at its driest.
-McDonalds is about half-way to the turn around
Good luck to all those who give this trail a shot. I wish you the best
SNETT - Horses DO NOT cause trail damage on or off the rail trail
Hi -- Please read my wife's long post from Sept 2009 -- Many, many horses use the flat section of SNETT within
Douglas SF -- and it remains in perfect condition. They do not use the mogul'ed miles both E and W of Douglas SF. Those miles are ruined with moguls. --------- She is right, for 300 years horse trails all over USA were 24" wide, flat, and dry, and in modern times great for hikers and mountain bikes too. While some interests have tried to ban horses on trails, out West the laws protect horsemen's rights to trail access, under "traditional use" protections. Every legal case was found for horses continuing in places where ?? mtn bikers and ATV users ?? want to ban them? ---------Since 1990 or so, ATV's have widened trails, created ponds where damp spots used to be, exposed rocks & tree roots, vastly accelerated erosion, and created the many miles of moguls on the SNETT and elsewhere which make bike riding and walking unpleasant, and horse pleasure impossible. Just setting the record straight, Rob
This has great potential!
I hiked it for the first time on Sept. 9 -- starting at the Franklin, MA, trail head and ending up at Route 126 in Bellingham. I found the "whoop-de-dos" a curiosity." But they did not cut into the enjoyment of the hike. I suppose if you could straighten them all out, they would add several tenths of a mile to the distance walked. I was a bit more curious about how they formed. On average, these "swells" across the rail bed seem to average about five paces peak to peak. And the low spots seemed to have a consistent depth, on the order of about 18 inches. And they seem to be unrelated to any cross-trail drainage.
Along one stretch, I came across what would have been a siding on the line. It had no swells. And it's gravel ballast was virtually intact the entire length of the siding.
Because school has just started (and I was on vacation), I was the only person on the trail for the entire outbound leg. And I came across one motocross rider on the way back. The trail is marked for no motor vehicles at the trail head. But the trail has plenty of other access points along the way that often seem to come in from someone's home or field. So any attempt at nixing anything other than foot or hoof power will be a challenge. And there is no signage on the Route 126 end in Bellingham.
At Route 126, the rail seemed to end. But after consulting Google Earth, it looks like it picks up again at the end of a small residential neighborhood to the left of the light-industrial building you see as you look across the road.
In short, this is a hidden gem!
That's some exploration for another day!
SNETT Douglas / Uxbridge MA: moguls; horses
Greetings, we are new posters. We decided to try to find out who maintains the SNETT in the Douglas/Uxbridge area since it is in practically unusable condition so much of the way (outside of Douglas SF). While some mtn bikers think it's fun to ride miles of moguls, the moguls (created, we assume, by the pounding of 'banned' RVT's) make the trail unusable for serious running, hiking, or horse uses. We are experienced extreme trail riders who seek out unusual and little-used trails all over the world, but we are based in central Mass. (One horse&rider team became, in 2006-2007, the first pair ever to complete the entire 92 mi of the Mass Mid-State Trail -- which is legally open to horses, but largely unsuitable for horse travel in any case -- thus the sobriquet 'extreme trail riding.' **We encourage hikers everywhere to try this spectacular, gorgeous, and largely unused trail.**) New England horse trails are naturally hilly, rocky, and swampy; the going is slow. The SNETT is the only environment that is flat, clear, scenic, and a rare resource for our animals, who want to live their nature and RUN once in a while. They have very little chance to do this otherwise. On the SNETT, while we can enjoy the scenery as our horses walk the moguls, the moguls are so close together (vs the length of a horse's body -- longer than a bike), that this is *extremely* fatiguing for them. What a shame for all! We can't imagine jogging/running on these trails. Why bother even to walk them? Biking on them, for most, is a drag, too. NB Responsible horsemen are quite happy to share the trails with other user groups, in particular taking care not to use or cross any land or trail in wet seasons unless in an emergency. We organize and work hard to maintain, re-route and otherwise be smart about trail usage for all. It is NOT true that horses make the trails 'bumpy' (unless you are talking about frozen mud, impacted by horses just before it froze); horses in no way degrade the land, beyond the existence of the trail itself. Long-term horse passage does not downgrade trails. They are no more than 18" wide, and remain as they are for generation after generation, until they are widened and trashed by motorized 4-wheelers. We have observed that trails which were formerly delightful for everyone's use (runners, bikers, hikers and horses), both in New England and widely out West, have been grievously downgraded since the proliferation of 4-wheelers -- stripping trails of loam & dirt, leaving nothing but rocks and tree roots, or vast mud holes wherever they frequently pass. This would hardly appear to be the year in which to inquire, but is there any plan or budget for 're-grading' the long sections of the SNETT which are nothing but endless moguls?? Best, Betsy & Rob 617 306 3259
This IS a trail!!!
"I've been mountain biking this old railbed since about 1992, beginning in Webster, MA and going along into Douglas. Yes there are some spots that are quite sandy/soft, and a lot of ""whoopdy doos"" in some areas. However, there are some scenic areas along ponds and lakes. Also, there are a plethera of smaller single track trails running off of the railbed that provide hours of aggressive, technical riding or even hiking. The tristate marker can be found, and is just a short distance from the midstate trail that crosses the railtrail. Just off the midstate is a 3 sided shelter, perfect for an overnighter. The railtrail needs attention, but aggressive riders find much fun here."