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This exquisitely maintained trail slices through forested areas and wetlands for a wonderful experience in southern New Hampshire. The trail will eventually be part of the Granite State Rail Trail, which is realizing the grand vision of creating a 125-mile trail from the Massachusetts to Vermont border. The Derry Rail Trail already makes a seamless connection with the 4.3-mile Windham Rail Trail at its southern endpoint and will eventually connect in the north with the Londonderry Rail Trail, which stretches 3.3 miles to Manchester. You can also access the 18.3-mile Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail (Fremont Branch), by heading southwest for 0.2 mile on the Windham Rail Trail and turning left onto the new trail just after Depot Road.
Starting at the southern end, just north of the Windham Depot, the asphalt trail immediately enters a wooded area that invokes a very remote feel for such a populated area. You may see the occasional heron or turtle venturing out of the neighboring wetlands.
The trail crosses Beaver Brook over a beautiful stone arch bridge; the middle of the bridge is known locally as Lover’s Leap, and while the origin of this name is not confirmed, it is rumored to have American Indian roots. The trail then enters the quaint downtown area of Derry and crosses East Broadway, where there are bike shops, restaurants, and ice cream shops.
The paved section of trail ends in Hood Park, which has a variety of outdoor and recreational amenities, including picnic tables, a playground, basketball courts, and a large pond with a waterfront area. The pond contains multiple species of fish and is stocked annually with brook trout and rainbow trout.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can continue on the trail along the west side of Hoods Pond on a dirt path for another 0.3 mile until the path ends. Because this section is not paved, it is only suited for mountain biking and hiking. The plan is to eventually pave this section and create a seamless connection with the Londonderry Rail Trail (see page 114), which currently begins approximately 1 mile to the north.
To reach the trailhead at Windham Depot from I-93 N, take Exit 3 onto State Route 111 W toward Windham. Head west 1.6 miles, and turn right onto N. Lowell Road. Go 2.6 miles, and turn right onto Depot Road. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right into the depot parking lot. The Derry Rail Trail is located 0.2 mile northwest along the Windham Rail Trail. Parking is prohibited at Windham Depot from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
To reach the trailhead at Windham Depot from I-93 S, take Exit 4 onto SR 102 toward Derry/Londonderry. Turn left (east) onto SR 102/Nashua Road (signs for Derry), and go 0.9 mile. Turn right onto Fordway, go 0.5 mile, and then continue onto Fordway Extension for 0.9 mile. Turn left onto Bowers Road, and go 0.6 mile. Turn right onto Windham Road, and go 1.3 miles. Continue onto N. Lowell Road 0.2 mile, and then turn left onto Depot Road. Turn right into the depot parking lot after 0.2 mile. The Derry Rail Trail is located 0.2 mile northwest along the Windham Rail Trail. Again, note that parking is prohibited at Windham Depot from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
To reach the Hood Park trailhead from I-93, take Exit 4 for SR 102 toward Derry/-Londonderry. Head northeast onto SR 102/Nashua Road (signs for Derry), and go 0.9 mile. Turn left onto Elm St., go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto Maple St. Immediately turn left onto Rollins St., and the trailhead and parking area will be on the left in about 500 feet. The northern endpoint is located about 0.4 mile north along the trail.
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