Dover Community Trail

New Hampshire

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Dover Community Trail Facts

States: New Hampshire
Counties: Strafford
Length: 3.8 miles
Trail end points: Watson Road between County Farm Road and Sandpiper Dr. and Fisher St. just west of Belknap St. (Dover)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6483895
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Dover Community Trail Description

The Dover Community Trail snakes its way through the heart of the Garrison City—so nicknamed for the fortified log houses, or garrisons, built by 17th-century settlers—-offering a variety of trail surface types and activities for visitors.

Technically starting at the southeastern endpoint on Fisher Street, the trail heads straight north and makes its way through quiet residential areas. The canopy of surrounding trees provides ample shade and a pleasant setting. After about 0.3 mile, you’ll pass through a short tunnel underneath Silver Street and continue north, crossing a few roads and neighborhoods. Be sure to follow the trail signs in this area to stay on the correct course.

After passing Washington Street, the trail crosses over a beautiful trestle high above the Cocheco River and continues to the Dover train depot/station in downtown Dover (see the active railroad line that the train station services on the north side of the trestle). With a trailhead, parking, and ample restaurants and shops just one or two blocks west, this is the best place to begin your journey.

From the train station, exit the parking lot and turn left onto the sidewalk along Chestnut Street to cross the railroad tracks. Note that this section follows city sidewalks, and there are no signs to help with navigation. After two blocks, turn left onto Fourth Street and follow the sidewalk until you reach a bridge that crosses the Cocheco River.

Here, just before the bridge, turn right (heading north) to enter another off-road section of trail that skirts the north side of the river. The trail also leads you past Beckwith Park and Dover Cassily Community Garden—both great community assets. This section has a dirt and crushed-stone surface and is suitable for walking and mountain biking only; it offers a great nature escape in the center of town.

You’ll cross Whittier Street and then follow the north side of Whittier Falls Way, a quiet neighborhood street, before crossing under Spaulding Turnpike and continuing off road. Here, the route continues to follow the north side of the Cocheco River and is surrounded by a nice wooded area, providing contrast to the more urban section near the center of town. The trail terminates at Watson Road, just east of the river.

There are plans to extend the trail south and ultimately connect it with other sections of trail in and around the Seacoast Region.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Amtrak Dover Transportation Center (Rotary Club trailhead) from the intersection of US 202 and NH 16/Spaulding Turnpike in Rochester, head south on SR 16 to Exit 8E for downtown Dover, and follow W. Knox Marsh Road 0.3 mile to a traffic circle. Enter the traffic circle, take the first exit onto Silver St./NH 9, and go 0.3 mile. Turn left onto Lexington St., and go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Washington St., and go 0.3 mile. Turn left onto Chestnut St., go about 0.2 mile, and look for the entrance to the station on your left. The trailhead and access to the trail are located in the back of the parking area adjacent to the Cocheco River.

To reach the Watson Road trailhead from the intersection of US 202 and SR 16/Spaulding Turnpike in Rochester, head south on SR 16 to Exit 9 toward SR 9/SR 108/Dover/-Somersworth. Turn left onto Indian Brook Drive (signs for Sixth St.), and go 0.5 mile. Turn right onto Sixth St., and go 0.8 mile. Turn left onto County Farm Road, go 0.2 mile, and then turn left onto Watson Road. Follow it 0.2 mile, and turn left into the trailhead parking lot.

Dover Community Trail Reviews

We biked and geocached this section today. We had an enjoyable ride, but the surface was quite varied. Nothing was paved. We started out on well packed gravel/ dirt on a wide trail, but by the time we were at the other end, following the river, it was single track, mostly through grass, with some roots and a few sandy patches. It didn't resemble most of the rail trails I have been on, but my hybrid bike was fine, and we really enjoyed the variety.

We started at the southern end, and the trail was great for a short ride. Then we got to the railroad station parking lot and could not find the rest of the trail. We rode down Forth st to the bridge and there was no trail that we could find. Look like the trail has a lot of potential to run along the river, and the paved short section we rod on was nice. Had a huge sub at Dougs Hoagies across the street from the Railroad station.

Today (Sunday) my companion and I parked at the Watson Rd. end and walked to just past Whittier St. For most of the stretch we felt as though we were walking in the woods. Last night ended three days of rain that totaled three inches. Nevertheless, the trail was entirely passable. Occasionally we had to walk around a small puddle, but, overall, mud was not a problem. The trail was hardback with some gravel sections. The amazingly few people we met were walking or on bicycles. Even parents with a toddler and dog were all walking just fine. No tree roots or rocks. Bicycles would need to have wider than road bike tires with good treads. I wouldn't recommend this part of the trail for wheelchairs. All in all a most enjoyable afternoon.


I use this trail often , its short but ok , except the last time I was there 2 weeks ago and I was disgusted with the litter through out the trail, at one point there were about 20 Dunkin Donut cups littered all over , Beer and Alcohol bottles everywhere We decided to go down the steps to the water , which have never been finished , there is no hand rail and because there was nothing put in place to stop dirt from sliding down onto it it was cover almost unable to use it , would be for a Child , upon getting down there , there were furniture cushions , something that looked like a mattress , and trash every where , but what was worse was the broken glass you could not step with out stepping on it ... I am so disappointed in this and that it is not being taken care of , at that point I turned and left ...

There were tons of free two hour parking spaces which was nice. The trail itself started out very easy to maneuver as I was accompanying my wheelchair bound client. About a mile into the trail, we crossed the road to continue on,(there are several streets you cross to continue onto the trail) and found a very small dirt path that was full of large tree branches and pieces of logs. We could no longer maneuver the path and had to turn around. Around this area finding handicap accessible trails that are longer than a mile is extremely difficult and I have to say I am very disappointed.

Started on the other end off Watson. Wide fairly level path. Not bad for running. Extra work needed to use jogging stroller with suspension. The views are nice!

I live just next door to this trail, so I ride it a lot.
The part that crosses Washington St really needs better signage for cars. It's on a hill, and the painted crosswalk is practically invisible form both directions, so cars rarely stop for pedestrians or bike riders.
Otherwise, it's really nice.
Progress on the remaining parts seems very slow.
The staggered fence makes sense because it connects two active residential driveways.

We biked the paved portion beginning at the rotary trailhead at the train station parking lot. It is nice enough and easy going. On the map just after Washington Street it shows a "staggered fence". When you cross the street it will seem like you are going up someone's driveway for a bit, but it is marked which way to go to keep on the trail, which does jog a bit around a fence. Look for the signs. At the end shown on the map that says Future trail, there is actually a single track trail already in place suitable for mountain bikes or walking for another quarter mile. We checked out the Watson Road access out to the Spaulding Turnpike portion as well. It is just a dirt trail right now, along the river. You could ride a mountain bike, or even a hybrid one. It is muddy after a rain, but otherwise packed down well. It goes under the turnpike but then stops. It picks up again at Whittier street. The future expansion shown on the map isn't quite done yet.

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