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The Manhan Rail Trail, well integrated into the local communities it serves, offers a pleasant ride or stroll. It conveniently weaves together parks, community points of interest, neighborhoods, and business centers.
Shaped like a Y tipped to its side, the northwest section—-also known as the New Haven and Northampton Canal Line—leads into the charming city of Northampton, which is the seat of government for Hampshire County. At its northern end at King Street, the trail also connects to two sections of the Mass Central Rail Trail, extending the mileage options for longer rides, jogs, and walks. Equestrians are permitted to use the Manhan Rail Trail too, so long as they clean up after their animals.
Heading southward from this point, the trail is adjacent to, but nicely separated from, an active railroad line and a fine example of a rail-with-trail facility that enhances connectivity. Union Station offers a new twist on an old railroad building, and there are numerous restaurants, cafés, and shops to enjoy here after a good day of exploring the Pioneer Valley area. Farther southwest, you’ll also find the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum within close proximity of the trail.
Continuing south, you begin to leave the city, and the trail runs by Veterans Field. Parking and restroom facilities are located here, along with a skate park where local boarders and riders defy gravity while enjoying their own space to recreate. After crossing the trestle at Mill River, the path becomes more suburban and even has a rural feel.
When you reach the junction of the Y, you can either continue south on the Manhan Rail Trail into Easthampton or ride 2.2 miles northeast to where the trail ends at North Street. If you choose the latter, you will parallel the Manhan and Connecticut Rivers and have access to the Old Pascommuck Conservation Area; this leg ends shortly after passing underneath I-91.
Heading south at the junction into Easthampton, you will begin to encounter neighborhoods, trailside businesses, and community gardens where you will find the Little Free Library for a quick read. A wonderful mural is located across the trail from the former depot. It depicts the many faces and professions of the community and how railroad once served local commerce. The trail continues to the south for a little over a mile to where it ends at a small turnaround and rest stop at Coleman Road.
In Northampton, public parking is available in Veterans Field. It can be reached from nearby I-91 by taking Exit 18. Head north on US 5/Mount Tom Road. In 0.2 mile at the roundabout, take the second exit onto Conz St. In 0.5 mile turn left onto Old South St., then in 0.1 mile turn right onto South St. In 0.2 mile take a left onto Main St., then a quick left onto West St. Veterans Field will be on your left. Be aware of trail users as you cross the trail to reach the parking.
Parking in Easthampton can also be accessed from I-91 by taking Exit 18. Head south on US 5/Mount Tom Road toward Easthampton. Travel 1.3 miles and turn right onto East St. Continue on East St. 1.4 miles, then turn right onto Ferry St. Continue 0.9 mile to just before the Manhan Rail Trail crosses the road; turn left at the unmarked street, which leads to a parking lot in Millside Park.
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