Fort Hill Branch Rail-Trail

New Hampshire

Fort Hill Branch Rail-Trail Facts

States: New Hampshire
Counties: Cheshire
Length: 7 miles
Trail end points: Dole Junction and Railroad Bridge to Brattleboro, VT
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Cinder, Dirt, Gravel, Sand
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016504
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Fort Hill Branch Rail-Trail Description

At the southern end of the trail a large parking lot at Dole Junction is maintained by the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails. This parking lot also serves as the southern terminus of the Ashuelot Rail Trail that proceeds 21 miles north to Keene. The trail parallels the east bank of the Connecticut River to a railroad bridge across to Brattleboro, Vermont. The bridge is not decked and there are large gaps between the ties which make it unsafe to cross, even on foot. There is no summer maintennace on the trail and it maybe overgrown with weeds and brush and difficult to travel.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Dole Junction trailhead in Hinsdale, follow State Route 63 for 2.1 miles south out of Hinsdale. The trailhead is on the right.

Fort Hill Branch Rail-Trail Reviews

After parking at the Dole Junction (spacious) parking lot off Rte. 63, I delved into the trail. It's basically a cow path, with a few smoother sections along the way.No maintenance that I can see. Nice views of the Connecticut River lead to the abandoned bridge, which looked a bit too treacherous to these 61-year-old eyes to cross. A kayaker exchanged pleasantries with me as he floated by, the only words I spoke to anyone the whole time (I did say hello to two turkeys and a skunk). Turned around and bumped my way back. Saw almost no one, with the exception of a few fisherman trolling the CT. Across the road is the trailhead for the Ashelot Rail Trail. Good workout but not exciting.

I was very excited to have stumbled upon the Abandoned B&M Fort Hill Bridge, which is part of the Fort Hill Branch Rail-Trail. However, I was saddened to see that the condition of the trail and the bridge itself is utter chaos and ruin. Upon finding this page, I wanted to add a review as a note of precaution to those wanting to explore or get a closer look at the bridge itself, at least with enough note upfront, so people don't wander out and realize it half way across, that they shouldn't be on it in the first place, as there aren't any posted warnings cautioning otherwise to new guests or visitors.

I hadn't seen any posting or review on the bridge or condition of the bridge in any research other than this page and wanted to update that passing or attempts to cross the bridge is unstable and very risky. I had thought, like many others who research rail trails, that the bridge was maintained and passable - but it has been left in true abandon, where the wood is weathered, rotted, and with many large gaps, and even trees growing from them. After my visit I would strongly advise to proceed with caution, or not at all.

This is a bit of a bushwhacking trail but well worth it. Forget the road bike here. Stick to it until you get to the abandoned bridge at the river even though it almost seems like the trail disappears, it picks back up again. We parked at the Wal-Mart on Rte. 119 back toward the NH/VT line on the river and biked Rte 119 East to 63 South and then picked up the trail. From the abandoned bridge it is a quick scramble up the hill to your right back to Rte 119 where you head right (East) back to the Wal-Mart for a 18-20 mile loop.


This trail is a great ride along the river and through the woods and makes for a wonderful 18 miles round trip from Dole Junction to the derelict iron bridge that used to cross the Connecticut river between Hinsdale, NH and Brattleboro, VT where you turn around and head back to Dole. Surface variety from hard packed dirt with stones to sand to grass and gravel make for an ever changing but gentle off-road challenge. Dirt road side trips to the old dam and small hydro station where you can get pretty close to the new nuke and large cooling towers of Vermont Yankee next door or down the little peninsula where the fisherman wander near the giant towers that carry the power lines across the Connecticut river. All that is near the center of the trail where there is auto access to a half mile long causeway near the eastern side of the river on Rt 119 in Hinsdale and plenty of activity from dog walking to river gawking. There is also a boat ramp nearby and plenty of boaters and fisherman use this access to the river. However, both ends of the trail are pretty much deserted, passing quietly behind old farms and houses on Rt 63 and modern stores on Rt 119. Since the railroad is sunken in elevation compared to the roads in these areas, you can ride along the river in relative privacy, enjoying the flora and fauna of the banks along with the ever changing river views on one side of you with the closeness of the woods and it's plethora of wild life on the other. Keep an eye out for the old stone bridges crossing the streams on their way to the river. They are Genuine, Hand Made in the USA Antiques which function as well today as they did 100 years ago. A useful legacy from the hard working people who built them. Remarkable!

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