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The smooth paved surface of the Londonderry Rail Trail offers a pleasant, tranquil 4.5-mile adventure for trail users in south-central New Hampshire. Its route follows a corridor once used by the Manchester and Lawrence Railroad, which started operations in the mid-1800s as a way to connect Manchester with Boston. The railroad ceased operations in the 1980s, and the creation of the rail-trail began in earnest in 2012.
As part of the future 125-mile Granite State Rail Trail, which one day will stretch from Massachusetts to the Vermont border, the Londonderry Rail Trail will eventually span 6 miles and serve as a connection between the developing South Manchester Rail Trail to the north and the Derry Rail Trail to the south.
A good place to begin your journey is at the trailhead on Sanborn Road. A small parking lot sits adjacent to Sanborn Road just east of the trail, and additional parking is available across the street at the North Londonderry Elementary School (when school is not in session).
The trail begins by traveling east through quiet, wooded neighborhoods, with the first mile south from the trailhead forming a straight shot on an elevated embankment—a remnant of the original railroad corridor infrastructure—but with a few dips down across neighborhood streets. The trail’s surface is well maintained, and signage is good for the entire length of the trail.
The trail opens up as it passes the North Londonderry Park & Ride, the second key parking area for the route, before passing under I-93 and veering south toward the center of town. Immediately following the underpass, you’ll pass some tranquil ponds and wetlands located on the east side of the trail.
After a few street crossings, the route follows Independence Drive a short distance before entering another beautiful wooded section. The remaining miles take you through some tranquil wetland areas—you might forget your proximity to I-93 and the town in this pristine natural sanctuary—before terminating at NH 28. Watch for turtles and other wildlife as you cross through a peat bog in this section of trail.
Please note that there is currently no parking at the southern terminus, and travel to and from this point would be challenging for nonmotorized users due to the current infrastructure. Plans are in the works to extend the trail across NH 28 and eventually create a seamless connection with the Derry Rail Trail to the south.
To reach the trailhead at the northwestern end of the trail from I-93, take Exit 5 toward SR 28 N, and follow signs for North Londonderry/Manchester. Head west onto SR 28 N/Rockingham Road, and go 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Sanborn Road, go 0.1 mile, and turn right into the parking lot (located directly across the street from North Londonderry Elementary School).
To reach the parking lot at the North Londonderry Park & Ride from I-93, follow the directions above to SR 28 N/Rockingham Road, and go about 0.3 mile. Turn right onto Symmes Dr., and then turn right into the access road to the parking lot. Turn right into the parking lot and you’ll see the trail toward the rear of the lot on your left. Be sure to pay attention to the signs, as some spaces have time limits or are dedicated for bus and/or commuter use only.
There is currently no dedicated parking at the trail’s southeast terminus.
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