Grand Trunk Trail

Massachusetts

Grand Trunk Trail Facts

States: Massachusetts
Counties: Hampden, Worcester
Length: 4.4 miles
Trail end points: Palmer and Southbridge
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 7456809
Trail activites: Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

With Unlimited:

  • Export to My Trail Guide
  • Create Guidebook
  • Download GPX
  • Download Offline Maps
  • Print Friendly Map
Upgrade Now

Register for Free with TrailLink Today!

View over 30,000 miles of trail maps
Share your trail photos
Save Your Favorite Trails
Find New Trails Near You
Leave reviews for trails
Submit new trails to our site
Register Now

Grand Trunk Trail Description

Grand Trunk Trail is part of a larger trail network, the Titanic Rail Trail, which will stretch more than 60 miles through south-central Massachusetts and the northeastern corner of Connecticut along the approximate route of the never completed Southern New England Railroad. Much of the Titanic Rail Trail approximates the route using parallel trolley and railroad grades.

The trail’s name stems from the Grand Trunk Railroad of Canada, which financed the railroad venture. In 1912, the president of the railway company, Charles M. Hays, died on the famous ill-fated ship, which inspired the trail system’s name.

The Grand Trunk Trail part of the system will run through Palmer, Brimfield, Sturbridge, and Southbridge. It’s currently open in two short disconnected sections.

In Brimfield, the hard-packed gravel pathway winds through a heavily forested area and parallels the Trolley Line Trail. There is also a spur that heads south to Holland.

Further east, another section winds through wooded land along the Quinebaug River from Ed Calcutt Bridge to the Westville Dam, linking the towns of Sturbridge and Southbridge. The Westville Lake Recreation Area along the way offers a popular spot for picnicking, fishing, and boating.

On the east edge of Southbridge and into Dudley are three pieces of the Quinebaug Valley Rail Trail which is also part of the Titanic system. These follow the abandoned bed of the Southbridge Branch Railroad. Going east, the first is the Sandersdale section of 0.2 paved miles along Route 131 near the junction with Route 169.

The second is the Sandersdale – Dudley section of 4.1 unpaved miles which runs from near the Route 131 intersection with the Dudley River Road in Sandersdale to the Connecticut state line at Quinebaug, CT. The third section is in eastern Dudley and runs for 1.2 miles from the Connecticut state line to an undecked bridge over the French River just east of Route 12. Planning is underway to repair and deck this bridge which will bring the trail into Webster.

East of Southbridge, another piece of the Titanic Rail Trail system runs for 22 miles between Franklin and Douglas and is known as the Southern New England Trunkline Trail. At its west end at the Connecticut border, that trail connects to the Airline State Park Trail, which travels southwest for 53 miles to the town East Hampton.

Parking and Trail Access

Brimfield: Two parking lots are available on this section: one on the south side of Route 20 (a half-mile east of downtown Brimfield) and the other on the south side of Five Bridge Road.

Southbridge: Parking is available at Marjorie Lane and in the Westville Lake Recreation Area.

Sturbridge: Parking is available at Wallace Road.

Grand Trunk Trail Reviews

In two trips, I covered the western two parts of the Grand Trunk. Both are on Army Corps of Engineers flood control lands. The western end of the western loop begins at a parking area along US Route 20 in the eastern part of Brimfield. In this area there were two rail rights of way running generally west to east. The northern of the two, was the trolley line between Springfield and Worcester. Today it is a nice earth and gravel trail through woodlands. It is what is really meant by the trail in this area. Just to the south, is the paralleling Grand Trunk route. This route was never finished, but sections exist as earth and gravel parallel trail in pieces accessible from the Trolley Trail. Both routes end at a missing bridge over the Quinebaug River.
The eastern section apparently is Grand Trunk right of way and begins at the Ed Calcutt Bridge over the Quinebaug River just east of River Road in Sturbridge. Good bikeway then runs eastward in a loop to the south to the Westville Lake Dam and then across a bridge over the dam's spillway and up to a parking area at the dam's south end. This is also a nice woods ride. There is a parking area near the mid point on Breakneck Road where the trail takes a dip to cross the road.

Recently, I have investigated the Quinebaug Valley Rail Trail portion of this trail in a series of trips. Beginning at Saundersdale Road in Southbridge, the trail is clear and wooded along the river, but the surface is loose gravel requiring fat tires. After two short bridges, the trail enters Dudley and the surface is much easier riding. Good scenery continues. At West Dudley Road, there is parking and picnic tables as well as canoe access to the river. On the far side of the road and river, a side trail bypasses an unsafe railroad bridge and good trail continues to Mill Road where there is parking. In this later section, ties remain in a few places, but these are paralleled by dirt roadways. There are also benches and interpretive markers. Good trail continues beyond Mill Road for 0.3 miles to the state line. Then, there follows 3.4 miles of undeveloped route in Thompson, Connecticut, still railroad owned. When the route reenters Dudley, Massachusetts, cleared trail continues for 3/4 mile to just west of Carpenter Rd., where it becomes overgrown with rails remaining. There is trail access and on road parking at Blue Herron Road. The Carpenter Road bridge is closed and scheduled to be replaced with a ramped fill in 2017. Overgrowth continues for about 1/4 mile to Rte. 12 where cleared trail resumes to the French River Bridge. There is parking at Rte. 12. The French River Bridge is undecked and overgrown trail is on the east side for the short distance to the junction with the French River Greenway. Good progress has been made on the Massachusetts sections. More is pending.

Accordion

I just discovered this rail trail. Not knowing what to expect I took my fat bike for a spin. I love how you can branch on and off the trail. It is a nice change from and out and back ride. Though being a small trail it is a great senic ride. I will ride this trail again in the near future.

Rode both portions on 9/29/13, a beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon. I started at the parking area just east of Brimfield and rode east to the a point where a bridge is missing over what I think was the Quinebaug River. The main trail was 2.6 mi one way, beautifully maintained hard gravel surface, what I thought was perfect for a family outing - either on bikes or walking. On the way back I diverted off the trail and followed the Holland Connector, shown on the locally available Corp of Engineers map, and found "Curtis Island", a piece of history from King Phillips War. I ended up with about 10 miles on return to the car. This part of the adventure was very fun and scenic, although short for an average dirt road rider. The surface was very accommodating for my cyclocross bike - riders of mountain bikes, kids bikes and even road bikes with fatter tires will have a fine time here. The terrain is dead flat, of course. Incidentally, this area has a fantastic canoe/kayak trail - looks like a huge amount of fun for boaters.

I then proceeded to the Westville Lake Recreation are in Southbridge to ride the eastern portion. This was also a great find - parking in the recreation area lot (along with LOTS of other people) I rode a very pretty 1.2 mile section of the GTT to the west, paralleling the Quinebaug River. Returning to the parking lot, I rode a published loop around the lake, bikes allowed, the first part of which is the eastern most portion of the GTT. Similar surface conditions - great for kids and families, fine for everything including road bikes with fatter tires. On the return from the dam on the southeastern side of the lake - surface was fine, but the trail is a little narrower and hillier, so caution for pedestrians is advised.

Sum total - great easy afternoon, very pretty scenery. Total mileage ended up as 16.3.

Nearby Trails

South Spencer Rail Trail

Massachusetts - 1.62 miles

The South Spencer Rail Trail runs for less than 2 miles from downtown Spencer to an area south of town near Spencer State Forest. The path, which is also ...

Air Line State Park Trail

Connecticut - 55.9 miles

Air Line State Park Trail winds for just over 55 miles from the northeast corner of Connecticut, where the state borders Massachusetts, down to East Hampton ...

Putnam River Trail

Connecticut - 2 miles

The Putnam River Trail extends between Arch Street in the Putnam District and Providence Street to the south. The trail follows the east bank of the Quinebaug ...

Accordion

Southern New England Trunkline Trail

Massachusetts - 21 miles

The Southern New England Trunk Line Trail (aka the "SNETT") was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1994. It is built upon a segment of the former ...

Quinebaug River Trail

Connecticut - 4 miles

As of January 2012 the Quinebaug River Trail has two segments. The southern segment follows the course of the Quinebaug River in Danielson, beginning at ...

Blackstone River Greenway (MA)

Massachusetts - 3 miles

The Blackstone River Greenway (previously known as the Blackstone River Bikeway) is a 3-mile trail that represents the first open segment of the Massachusetts ...

Mass Central Rail Trail

Massachusetts - 31.9 miles

A 104 mile rail line was shattered by hurricane in 1938. Now, more than 60 years later, dedicated volunteers in 33 communities are working to reconnect ...

Burrillville Bike Path

Rhode Island - 1.2 miles

Burrillville Bike Path runs for just over a mile through its namesake rural community in northwest Rhode Island. It connects the villages of Pascoag and ...

Ware River Rail-Trail

Massachusetts - 12 miles

This unpaved state-owned trail is open for public use from Coldbrook to Baldwinville. An on-road detour is necessary through the village of Baldwinville, ...

Redstone Rail Trail

Massachusetts - 1.4 miles

The Redstone Rail Trail is built on the former New York, New Haven & Hartford Armory Branch, which in turn is a former branch line of the New York & New ...

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park Trail

Massachusetts - 3.5 miles

The Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park recalls the role of canals in transporting raw materials and manufactured goods between emerging industrial ...

Vernon Rails-to-Trails (Hop River State Park Rockville Spur)

Connecticut - 4 miles

Thanks to skilled engineers with the former Hartford, Providence, & Fishkill Railroad, the pretty Vernon Rails-to-Trails overlooks ravines and streams ...

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews
OR

Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 30,000 miles of trail maps and more!
OR