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The Massachusetts Central Railroad was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938, but the 104-mile corridor is being reborn as a cross-state rail-trail. Currently, nearly 40 miles from Boston to Northampton have been converted to trails, often by dedicated local groups that are piecing together this important part of the Bay State’s history. Here, we outline the open segments of the Mass Central Rail Trail from east to west.
Somerville Community Path, Alewife Linear Park, and Fitchburg Cutoff Path
The easternmost section of the Mass Central Rail Trail offers a seamless paved route connecting the Somerville Community Path, the Alewife Linear Park, and the Fitchburg Cutoff Path in Boston’s northwestern suburbs. This unique rail-trail follows an old railway corridor above ground while commuter trains run in a subway tunnel below. The Boston & Lowell Railroad built this spur in the 1870s, and it was later acquired by the Boston and Maine Railroad. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) purchased the line in 1973 and began using it for commuter trains in the 1980s.
The route begins at MBTA’s planned Green Line station on Lowell Street in Somerville. Heading northwest from there, you’ll approach the hip Davis Square area after 0.8 mile. Many buildings date to the late 1800s in this district, which is a destination for shopping, dining, and nightlife. Given its proximity to Tufts and Harvard Universities, it has a strong arts and culture vibe. If you’re traveling by bicycle, you’ll have to dismount (or take alternative on-street routes) as you approach Seven Hills Park and Davis Square, as cycling is prohibited on the path in this congested area.
In a mile, you’ll reach Alewife Station. This section gets a lot of use as it connects with the popular Minuteman Bikeway near the station. The trail continues as a tree-lined pathway to its end at Brighton Street on the eastern border of Belmont.
Wachusett Greenways Section (Sterling to Barre)
About 50 miles west of Boston, this section of the Mass Central Rail Trail includes a handful of completed—but disconnected—trail segments in a smattering of charming communities between Sterling and Barre. A nonprofit volunteer group called Wachusett Greenways is spearheading the effort to knit these pieces together.
Begin your journey in Sterling at the shared parking lot of the Cider Mill Shops. The scenic, crushed-stone pathway heads south through wetlands and oak-pine forest. After 1.3 miles, you’ll cross a small bridge and ride along a berm between two bodies of water, West Waushacum Pond on one side and The Quag on the other. This popular fishing spot is noted for its abundance of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. In 0.3 mile, the trail ends at Gates Road; on the opposite side of the road, a parking lot is available.
A short gap of 3.5 miles lies between trail’s end and the next section of trail, locally known as the Holden Connector, which begins to the southeast in West Boylston. A note of caution: This section often deviates from the original rail corridor with uphill sections and terrain that could pose a bit of challenge for those not on mountain bikes. From the parking area on Thomas Street, the route follows the wooded banks of the Quinapoxet River for 2.7 miles to River Street, opening up when the trail passes under I-190. Along the way, benches provide tranquil spots to rest.
When you reach the trailhead parking lot on River Street, the route pivots and heads northwest. The trail here is more challenging with steep turns and loose gravel and dirt, best suited for hiking or sturdy all-terrain bicycles. In 0.9 mile you’ll cross Manning Street and continue uphill through the dense canopy; this portion of the trail borders private land, so please be courteous. Your adventure ends in 1.1 miles at Wachusett Street in Holden, where another trail parking lot is available. Cross Wachusett Street and you can continue riding on-road along Mill Street for 0.9 mile south to view Lovellville Falls and the remains of a mill on the Asnebumskit Brook. Though not marked as a bike route, it’s a quiet, wooded street.
The trail picks up again in Rutland, about 5 miles to the west. The unpaved trail parallels East County Road for 1.2 miles with a parking lot on its northern end on Wachusett Street. An on-road route will connect you to the next section of trail. From the parking lot, ride on Wachusett southwest 1.3 miles and turn right onto Glenwood Road; in 0.6 mile, you’ll be at the next trailhead. From the Glenwood Road parking lot, you’ll have a pleasant journey heading southwest through forested conservation areas with wetlands and ponds, offering many opportunities for viewing local wildlife. About 2.5 miles into the trip, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the spectacular rocky cliffs that the railway cut through, offering a nice bit of natural air-conditioning on a hot summer day. Nearing the end of this section of trail, you’ll cross busy MA 122/Worcester Road; traffic moves at high speeds here, so use caution and listen for the rumble strips as a warning for oncoming vehicles. The trail soon parallels the Ware River before coming to an end at a spacious parking area next to MA 122 near Barre.
This 3-mile section of trail runs through open fields and deep woods in the heart of Massachusetts. The trail crosses the Ware River on two bridges restored by local trail managers and volunteers, including a lattice-truss trestle, similar in design but smaller in scale to the Norwottuck Branch’s span over the Connecticut River.
The pathway surface is largely packed dirt, suitable for people on foot, mountain bike, or horseback. In the winter, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers can be seen enjoying the trail. It runs between Maple Street in Wheelwright to Creamery Road in Hardwick. The best parking location for this section of trail is near the eastern endpoint at the site of a former train station in New Braintree, between Hardwick Road and West Road.
Norwottuck Branch (Belchertown to Northampton)
The Norwottuck Branch of the Mass Central Rail Trail (formerly known as the Norwottuck Rail Trail) stretches 10 miles from Belchertown to Northampton, connecting Hadley and Amherst in between. Trees border most of the pathway, providing a shaded journey through the summer heat and beautiful foliage in the fall. The trail has secluded spots to enjoy wildlife, as well as more well-used areas near Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts and into the city of Northampton, where the trail crosses the Connecticut River on a spectacular trestle.
Beginning your journey at the easternmost endpoint at the Warren Wright Road trailhead, you’ll travel through wetlands bordering the Lawrence Swamp Conservation Area. Views of streams and water lily–laden waterways can be seen through the forested corridor along the trail. Several hiking paths through this protected area, including the famed Robert Frost Trail, branch from the rail-trail and allow a closer look at the wildlife and wetlands. Before leaving the Lawrence Swamp area, you’ll pass through Lawrence Station, with several picnic benches, a portable restroom, parking, and an information kiosk.
The paved pathway continues under a leafy canopy. You’ll come upon the Fort River access point, which leads to the Emily Dickinson Trail (hiking only). Parking is available here just to the south of the trail at Mill Lane. About 4 miles in, the pathway arches into Amherst, rolling by the sports fields of Amherst College. As you head south, the trail intersects with the Art Swift Bike Connector, which leads northward to the University of Massachusetts campus.
The route continues west to Hadley through a mixture of farmlands and busier spots, like the commercial areas around Hampshire Mall and Mountain Farms Mall. Just off the trail around the Hadley Depot trailhead is an art gallery and an eclectic bar/restaurant with vintage arcade games, complete with a trailside Pac Man themed bike rack.
As you head into Northampton, you’ll cross over a lattice-truss bridge, an impressive steel structure with beautiful views of the Connecticut River. A park with docks and river access lies at the western end of the bridge.
At Woodmont Road, this section of the Mass Central Rail Trail connects to its Francis P. Ryan Bikeway section by way of a tunnel under an active rail line. At this intersection, the trail also connects with the Manhan Rail Trail, which heads south through downtown Northampton.
Francis P. Ryan Bikeway
The paved pathway continues northwest toward Look Park, running through residential and commercial areas in Northampton and the village of Florence. Along the way, tree canopy shades much of the trail, making for a pleasant walk or ride even in hot weather. A trailside bike repair station, just after crossing Straw Avenue, provides free air and basic tools for bicyclists. Upon arriving at Look Park, a 150-acre privately operated, nonprofit park, consider taking a break to ride the miniature train around a 1-mile track, visit the zoo, or rent a paddleboat at the lake. The trail skirts the perimeter of the park to the east.
Heading past Look Park, the trail enters the woods, continuing through heavy forest alongside the rushing water of Mill River. After a while, the path changes from an asphalt surface to packed cinder—and back to asphalt and then again to cinder farther along; both surfaces are suitable for all types of bikes. Along the trail, the river is not always within view, but the sound of laughter can be heard on hot days, where numerous unofficial swimming holes attract those wanting to splash in the cool water. The trail ends at South Main Street, a rural road not recommended for bicycling, adjacent to a bridge over Mill River in the village of Leeds.
As the Mass Central Rail Trail spans much of Massachusetts, there are numerous parking options. Below are a few key parking waypoints; please check out our trail map for more options.
Cambridge: By MBTA subway, take the Red Line to the Alewife Station. Bicycles are permitted on subways on weekends and during off-peak hours on weekdays. A bike-share station is located at the Alewife Station.
To reach parking (fee charged) at the Alewife Station from I-95, take Exit 29A to MA 2 toward Boston. Go 5.9 miles and take the Alewife Station exit. The Alewife Station Access Road becomes Steel Place. Go 0.4 mile and turn left into the parking garage.
Sterling: To reach the northern endpoint from I-90, take Exit 6 for MA 12 toward Sterling/-Clinton. Head south on MA 12/Leominster Road (signs for Sterling/Clinton), and go 1.7 miles. Continue straight onto MA 12 S/MA 62 W for 0.2 mile. Turn left onto Waushacum Ave. The entrance to trail parking will be on the right in 0.2 mile; look for an old red shed just off the road.
Holden: To reach the parking area at the Wachusett Reservoir on Thomas St. from I-190, take Exit 5 for MA 140 toward West Boylston. Head south on MA 140. In 0.9 mile, keep right to stay on Thomas St. The parking lot will be on your right.
Rutland: To reach the Wachusett St. trailhead from I-190, take Exit 5 to MA 140 toward West Boylston. Head south on MA 140 about 1 mile, and turn right onto Laurel St. Continue 3.3 miles (Laurel St. becomes Manning St.). Turn left onto MA 31. In 0.25 mile, turn right onto Quinapoxet St. In 2 miles, turn right onto Main St./MA 122A. In 3 miles, turn right onto Glenwood Road. In 1.2 miles, the parking area will be on your right.
Hardwick: To reach the parking area at the eastern end of the trail from I-90, take Exit 8 for MA 32, then turn left onto MA 32/Thorndike St. In 8.4 miles, turn right at Main St./MA 9 in Ware to continue on MA 32. In 1.7 miles, turn left onto Gilbertville Road to continue on MA 32 (just past a recycling facility on your left). In 3.4 miles, you’ll turn right in Gilbertville to stay on MA 32. In another 3.7 miles, turn right onto Hardwick Road. Just past West Road, in 0.3 mile, turn right. The parking area will be a mowed grassy area on your right.
Norwottuck Branch: To reach the Warren Wright Road trailhead in Belchertown from I-91 N, take Exit 19 and turn right onto MA 9/Bridge St., eastbound over the Connecticut River. After crossing the river, turn right onto Bay Road. Continue 1.8 miles and turn left to stay on Bay Road. After 3 miles, take the second exit on the traffic circle just past Atkins Farms Country Market onto MA 116, then almost immediately take the first exit at the next traffic circle to continue on Bay Road. In 2.5 miles, veer left onto Hulst Road. In just under a mile, turn left onto Warren Wright Road. In 0.8 mile, the trailhead parking area will be on your left, just before the train tracks.
Tuesday July 09, 2019, 5:30 pm.
Weather 88' F, low humidity, very light clouds.
Great weather for riding this great trail. Massachusetts really sets the bar for bike trails. This one has a line down the middle to help the careless riders better their performance. There are benches near view spots with poems and examples of flora and fauna carved into boulders. There are granite mile markers on both poles and pavement stones at the side of the trail. The pavement was very smooth and there are only some slight inclines. Tunnels and bridges, a variety of scenery, this is both a community trail and a destination trail. I drove 2.5 hours for this one and the much shorter Canalside trail a half hour away in Turner Falls, doing both on the same day with a mid-trip visit to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. All 3 places worth the trip, but now I have to complete the other sections of the Mass Central Greenway. Good job Massachusetts!
I love the community path - the art, the kids, the people hanging out. It seems really well used.
Of course the path just ends. There's a not totally horrible way (with kids) to get to the Museum of Science aka the Charles River Path from the end of the community path. We took a side street to Central Ave., then the bike line on Somerville to Union Sq., crossing via sidewalks. Then the bike lane on Somerville Ave, with a RT on Medford, to School, to Thorndike. The Medford Street portion goes underneath a train bridge with fast traffic, but there is a bike lane. Considered Webster > Cambridge St. to get around that, but the last part of Webster is a Show for kids.
This is a lovely quiet running trail with a smooth, wide, soft dirt surface. Park in the lot off of Thomas Street and then run - it's a slight incline going up that you don't notice until you turn around and come back and are cooking. An absolutely beautiful run through the forest and next to water!! No dogs allowed in some sections so leave the pupper at home.
While there are portions of the frail where dogs are not allowed there are other portions where you CAN bring your dog. The area of the trail between Barre and Rutland is dog friendly. From the parking lot off of Rt. 140 in West Boylston you can bring a dog about half way up that portion of the trail. The dog walking portion is about a mile and a half each way.
I didn't find anything about whether dogs were allowed or not anywhere online. I went to two different parking areas near Holden, where they very clearly state "NO DOGS ALLOWED." I was very disappointed, as this was the explicit reason for my trip - to bring my pooch with me!
Lovely trail in the early spring. Great variety of scenery--fields, wetlands, Amherst College, pine forest. Well maintained, frequent rest areas. Quite lovely.
The trail is very well maintained and flat for the first 3 miles, (we started on Thomas Street - Boylston). The trail is entirely within the woods, tall pines on either side with plenty of opportunity to stop, sit on one of the many scenic view benches and take in the river and woods. With so little rain, we were able to go to the waters edge, very lovely and peaceful. There are two bridges you cross, and also go under 190. The next section of the trail is a bit more hilly, but quite fun coasting through the woods. This section is on higher elevation with great views. It seems that much progress has been made on the trail expansion, however, we did not go beyond to the next section. Will absolutely return without question.
We started from Thomas St in Boylston and went about 3 miles. The inclines were really steep for biking, unless you are a hard core bicyclist. More suited for hiking. The views were lovely although the many admonishing signs along the way detracted.
This trail, from the bridge over the Connecticut River to the end after 10 miles (At Mile Marker 11.5) is lovely to ride on summer days because of the tree canopy that shields the trail almost completely, keeping things cool. The trail is in first class condition for the first 8.5 miles from the bridge, while the last 1.5 miles is a little bumpy from tree roots. The grades are gradual. There are two porta-potties along the route, but apparently no water is available. I rode the trail on my recumbent trike twice in the past two days.
A couple of notes: if approaching the area from the north, there is no Exit 19 on I-91. Take Exit 20, go south on U.S. 5 to the second traffic light and turn left onto Damon Road by the Chrysler dealership. The large parking area is on the left side as you approach the second light on Damon Road. Also, my GPS did not recognize Elwell State Park, as the name has been changed to Connecticut River Greenway State Park.
Finally, there is a 1.5 mile section of the trail that goes west from the state park parking lot. There is no parking available at that end of the trail, so most people start at the 1.5 mile mark and head east from there.
Start at the parking lot at Damon Road in Northampton (right off I-91) so that you can begin and finish with a magnificent crossing over the railroad bridge. The pavement for most of this path is smooth and well maintained. I stopped at Amherst to ride through the Amherst College campus, and had lunch in town (I really enjoyed Crazy Noodles). I did this ride in March on a Brompton folding bicycle. The route is very flat and woodsy. One of the nicest trails I have ridden on. Worth going out of your way for.
The entire trail is well maintained with plenty of places to stop and take a quick break. We especially enjoyed the many stone markings identifying the different wildlife in the area.
The rest stations are the best we have ever seen on any trail which we took advantage of along the way.
We were also pleasantly surprise to see that many of the rest / break stations even had well kept up Porta Potties which is very rare on many other trails.
The trail / paths are nicely paved with useful informative signs during the entire path.
One of the best trails thus far this year with many beautiful vistas and we hope to be back in the fall to do this trail once again during leaf peeping season.
This trail gives the definition of what a bike trail conversion should be in suburban areas. I've been known to be a couch potato but I love to bike on nice days. This trail gives the novice/infrequent bicycling enthusiast a warm welcome back to the sport/leisure activity of bicycling. Fairly flat, paved surface makes this activity fun again.
awsome trail. me an my daughter rode from amherst to northhampton. easy ride!.
This is a jewel. The river follows the trail the entire way and is very scenic and peaceful. There are the ruins of a old mill village just shy of half way through. There are plenty of benches to sit at along the way. It was a bit muddy and mucky but once you got halfway through it was pretty dry.
This is a great trail. I ride this about 2-3 times a month and it simply beautiful. the pavement is great and there is many places to take breaks and enjoy the view.
I enjoy this trail so much and primarily use the section between Thomas Street in West Boylston and Manning Street in Holden. It is amazing for running and and easy bike ride for the whole family. Very well maintained, quiet, clean and not over crowded.
We rode from Belchertown to Northhampton and back. It's a wonderful trail, paved, smooth and well marked. There are several bridges and tunnels along the way including the old railroad trestle across the Connecticut river. Spent a few hours hanging in Nhamp before returning, made it a great day.
Too bad the Look Restaurant closed, nevertheless, this was our first Rail to trails experience & we loved it! Smooth, friendly &beautiful foliage.
I rode this trail 28 Aug 2015, and it was an amazingly wonderful ride. I started in Belchertown. The first mile or so of the trail is older surface, but still very smooth. There were a few minor depressions, no root bumps. But after the first mile, at the intersection of Station Rd. the trail surface is brand new, perfectly smooth for the remaining 9 miles or so to Northhampton. Comfortable rest areas with nice views are sprinkled at frequent intervals along the trail. Beautiful scenery, it's a very pleasant ride. I've ridden a number of rail trails this summer: Washington Secondary Bike Path and Blackstone River Greenway in Rhode Island; Nashua River, Bruce Freeman Rail Trails in Massachusetts; and the Shining Sea Bikeway on the cape. This was, by a stretch, the nicest - mostly because of the gorgeous views, and the brand new surface.
The only downside: there were quite a few people on the trail - which is not at all surprising given how nice the trail is.
Tomorrow we will visit this trail for the third day in a row. It is beautiful & well maintained. The section after the first tunnel, heading east from Rutland State Park is breat-taking. A bonus is the option to swim & picnic at Rutland State Park.
Review: We rode from Rutland State Park to the end in Barre. Easier access from outside the park. Great trail conditions. Few people on a beautiful summer weekday afternoon. Took a swim after. We'll definitely return!
Rode this 5/23/15 and happy to say the construction is pretty much finished, not sure if the newer paved last mile or so to belchertown is slated for re-surfacing, its it good shape with a few root bumps, but the old recycled glass and asphalt surface that was failing is all gone.
Now they need a nicer, safer way to connect this to Manahan.
Limited parking on Glenwood Ave. no facilities black flies abundant but not biting yet. Trail is hard packed gravel in great shape beautiful lakes and ponds lots of birds and beaver dams. We stopped at a parking area about .3 mile beyond 122A crossing (USE EXTREME CAUTION THE CARS TRAVEL AT A VERY HIGH RATE OF SPEED DESPITE THE WARNING STRIPS IN THE ROAD) the trail continues but we turned around. The trail is all down hill from Glenwood Ave to where we stopped (elevation goes from 1219' to 848') I suggest starting at the 122A end if you prefer the return trip to be downhill.
This is the second time on this trail last summer after finishing our ride we went to Rutland State Park (part of the trail is in the park) for a swim and a picnic.
Half of the construction is complete. The trail is open and in perfect condition from the trail head on Damon Rd to just east of Hampshire Mall. The remaining half will be complete by June 2015. Updates are available on this page http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/conservation/planning-and-resource-protection/projects/norwottuck-rail-trail-rehabilitation-project.html
For a longer ride start at Hampshire Mall. Ride west to route 5/10 in Northampton. Then pick up the Northampton Bike Path south. It connects to the Manhan Rail Trail where you can go all the way down to Southampton, MA or take at the fork by Eastworks and go up to Mt Tom.
The wife & I traveled the Wachusett Greenway section of the MCRT last weekend and enjoyed every minute of the ride. We began at the Glenwood
road parking area in Rutland, which has space for about six vehicles, crossed the road and headed west on a nicely hard packed trail.
A quick note, the trail between Wachusett street parking area and the Glenwood road parking area is still very much unimproved with many blown down trees, heavy brush, and large areas of wet & muddy rough trail.
As we peddled along, we passed many ponds and marshy areas littered with beautiful pink Lady Slippers, we rang our bells inside several under road tunnels, and entered a long section of trail dug through solid rock called the Charnock Cut. This area is absolutely beautiful, and the blast of cool air that greats you as you enter on a hot summer day is a real treat. Stop and enjoy the sound of dripping water from the lush fern lined walls, you may not want to leave..
At Miles Road, There are no signs and the trail seams to end, but turn right onto the road and travel down and to the left aprx. 1/8 mile, you will see another parking area on the left and the trail will continue from here.
There is one high speed road crossing at route 122 where the cars are really moving, fortunately the traffic is light, so crossing is not much of a problem.
When you reach Coldbrook Road and the parking area, you'll find an interesting site marker for the old Coldbrook R/R Depot. Here unfortunately, the hard packed crushed stone stops. The trail does continue straight across coldbrook road and the open gravel area, look for the wide swath of new gravel roadway. Here the gravel is slightly courser but not too tough on the shins. The new road switchbacks gradually down hill bringing you alongside the old Ware River Dam and eventually crossing the Ware River via a new steel bridge. You are now on route 122 in Barre, and at this point, there is no clear sign as to where the trail would continue, so we turned and headed for home.
Distance traveled from Glenwood Road to the Ware River crossing @ route 122 is apprx. 10 miles.
This was a great trail through a beautiful expanse of forest, we can't wait to do it again in the fall. Also looking forward to more of this trail being completed..
We've been walking & biking this trail for years. My young son loved to bike it as a preschooler, at one point it was too short for us. We were delighted to come back 10+ years later to find it lengthened! The ruins of the old Mill we had no idea were there! Lots of interesting things to see, bridges to walk on, granite benches to rest on, and lots of native wildflowers to look for. It's one of our favorite trails and we are there often. We even started snowshoeing so we can go in the winter!
The Manhan trail connects directly with this trail which use to be called the Northampton Bikeway. (A much better name) It starts in the shopping center at Stop and Shop Store. It is a smooth 3 mile ride out to Look Park and the trail continues through the park and shortly back on the RR right of way and out to Railroad Ave. Where it does a U Turn when the right of way turns into a small dirt path. We stopped and had a great lunch at the Look Restaurant right on the trail. Bob
The repair construction along this trail has started and you need to check the closed schedule on their web site. I parked at the bike lot at the river in Northampton and rode across the bridge but the trail was closed 100 yards later. The east end of the trail was still open. The connecting trail to the west from the bridge site is complete and open up to the live RR tracks but ends there. The eastern starting point is a bit hard to find. Study your maps and roads. Bob
I needed a place to do a long run while visiting in Amherst and was so happy to find this trail. It was so beautiful, saw lots of birds, cows, and swamps. Met many people running, walking, biking, and bird-watching, but it was not too crowded. I would never have found it without this website since the entrances are not obvious like at a county park. In fact, I had trouble finding the trail exit and ended up running a little longer than intended, but that was okay. I also never found the bathrooms but stopped at Maple Farm where I used the restroom and bought a drink.
My wife and I rode this trail in June 2012. The trail is very narrow and the surface is extremely bumpy. Tree roots have grown in under the trail causing the bumps. The trail should be resurfaced. We rode on a Sunday and the trail was very crowded. It is unfortunate that parents to not teach their children proper bike trail etiquette. The scenery is very nice and it would have been an enjoyable ride had the surface been smoother. As far as trails go in Massachusetts, this is the worst I have ever ridden. Massachusetts has great bike trail around the state, especially on Cape Cod. If this trail could be widened and the surface redone, it would be a beautiful ride.
On October 27, 2012 I rode the Wachusett Greenways section of the MCRT west of Coldbrook Road to the Ware River, a newly constructed section. The new section goes off the ROW and uses a bendy switchback to drop down to another abandoned ROW along the Ware River near the Ware River Dam. A new footbridge is being constructed to replace an older one a short distance downstream from the dam, allowing access to the trail from Rte. 122 (Worcester Rd) in Barre, MA. The new section is currently dirt and gravel, but it's very smooth and very usable.
This is a very nice trail. I went yesterday with 6 other people with my meetup group. It is paved, has some bumps along the way because of some tree roots coming up but that is to be expected given it's along the woods. It extends a little more than 10 miles if you go all the way to Belchertown, nice views, lovely scenery, and we went for an early dinner at Judie's in Amherst and rode back again. I am planning this trail as a yearly Fall trip because the leaves are in color then and is beautiful.
I rode this today, and I honestly have to share the opinions of others with the condition of the trail. It's not in the best shape, and it is a little narrow. There were signs of construction, there is a detour at one point a couple miles east/north of the CT river. I also noticed paint markings on the path, which I guess serve as a caution. They did have to use a bit of paint. What redeems this trail is the variety of scenery one encounters in the 10 miles. I took the camera and was able to take quite a few pictures in 3-4 areas that were very pretty. There's a place near the Northhampton end that sells perogies and ice cream. I can't speak for the ice cream, but the perogies are real good. O.
Cambridge and Somerville may be bike friendly, but traffic is traffic. I ride from the Alewife MBTA station to Davis Square every day and this trail is terrific. Other than some puddling near the entrance at the Massachusetts Avenue crossing, and the crossing itself, this is a nice, rolling ride. At Mass Ave there is no direct crossing point. Cyclists must wait for the pedestrian light to cross from the trail exit to the corner, then across Mass Ave to rejoin the path on the final run to the bike racks at the Davis Square MBTA station. By the way, a bike cage is being built at Davis, like the two at Alewife.
I rode part of the Wachusett Greenways section of the MCRT from Glenwood Rd. in Rutland, MA to Coldbrook Rd. in Barre, MA, roughly 7 miles each way. The trail is mostly on the old right of way, although it skips off from time to time where bridges are no longer available or where the trail had to be re-routed for other reasons, such as private property.
When the trail reaches Miles Rd. in Rutland, there's no obvious spot where it continues, and there is no signage. If heading west, turn right on the road and go down a small hill about 1/8 mi and look on the left for a kiosk, parking lot, and the trail.
The trail is stone dust and fairly smooth. From east to west there is an elevation drop from about 1100' to 770', so it's a fast ride. The trail is woodsy and fairly secluded with a few quiet road crossings, one high speed but low traffic. You pass many beautiful ponds along the way, but the jewel is the Charnock Cut, a lush, green section of trail loaded with mosses and ferns owing to the water dripping from the sides of the cut. It's a must-see.
I went a bit past the end of the "improved" section of trail at the old Coldbrook Springs Railroad Depot site near Coldbrook Rd. to see what the trail is like heading to Barre. There is logging in there right now, and the right of way is "unimproved". At a small stream about a third of a mile away from Coldbrook Rd. the bridge is gone, and that was the end of my ride. My total ride was just under 16 miles that were well worth it on a gorgeous spring day.
My husband and I recently traveled out to Northampton to ride this trail. This trail is very well constructed and we were amazed at how well it navigated the various terrian of the city, it was also very well marked and it would really be impossible to get lost. It's also great that you ride right through town, makes for a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat after the ride. Love Northampton, love this ride!
Belchertown Bike Trail
If one accesses sundry reviews of this particular bike path, one would leave wondering whether to bother or not, given the dire warnings of deep declivities and rampant roots, not to mention horrific frost heaves that threaten both life and limb.
But that is not the case at all. No such fate will greet you.
Perhaps if one deigns to travel on such a path on a ‘road’ bike, well then, what do you expect? But if you are smart, you’ll be riding on a mountain bike or a hybrid, both most suitable for your journey.
My lovely bride, Julie, accompanied me on this pleasant excursion, and we found no faults whatsoever with this trail! Sure, there are a few frost heaves here and there, and a smattering of bumps from tree roots, but on the whole it was a thoroughly enjoyable 10 mile ride. The offending ‘bumps’ are clearly marked, outlined in bright yellow to help you escape an unexpected jolt or two. The trail is even ok for rollerblades.
Starting in Belchertown, we meandered towards Northampton, passing swamps and wetlands, fields and farms, and lovely woodlands. Mating frog calls and shrill birdsong were frequent auditory experiences, and our day was warm, with rampant ragged clouds casting patches of shadows along dormant meadows.
The path, for the most part, was flat, with only slight grades as you approach Amherst College. Towards the end of your journey, there are a few road crossings, but they prove to be quick, with nary a wait.
Upon reaching Northampton, it is best to cross the old trestle bridge, and pause briefly before making your return. Any further cycling will prove disappointing, as the path takes you through town, with bustling streets and a lack of scenery.
So all in all a most pleasing journey, and one that is easily navigable for all age groups. With spring and all its glory still in its budding stages, now in the coolness of an April or May day is the time to go. Beautiful vistas await your presence. Now what are you waiting for?
I've been riding this trail for nearly 12 years, and it used to be a great trail, and I have high hopes that is will be again some day. As the other reviews accurately describe, the trail is now littered with bumps, frost heaves and cracks caused by tree roots and simple wear from age. Some of the cracks and ridges cut directly across the path with some of the more sever ridges up to 1.5 inches; That makes for one heck of a speed bump for a road bike or inline skates! In order to avoid the harsh trail surface, in about 3 sections, daily commuters have taken to simply riding off the trail for as far as perhaps 50 feet. It works, although in a few of these sections, getting off and back on the asphalt has become a bit treacherous over time.
Having said all this though, the trail is one of the most beautiful and peaceful I've ever ridden. In it's 10 or so mile length, there are only 7 road crossings, and 5 of those occur in the 1st 2 miles of the western end of the trail, starting in Northampton, MA. If you begin your ride on the eastern end of the trail, in Belchertown, the surroundings are beautiful, with streams, marshes, mountain views and wildlife. And as you proceed westward, it becomes a bit more busy, but still not overcrowded. I used to ride the length of this trail up and back nearly daily(in fact I've probably logged over 15,000 miles on this trail!!), but the bumps are becoming a bit rediculous. I do still ride the trail often though, it easy to fall in love with. You get to know where all the bumps are, and in the 3 or 4 really bad sections, i simply slow down; It's still a nice trail!
A number of years ago, many of the really bumpy sections were dug up and repaved, but the speed of degradation has certainly outpaced the attempt to keep the entire surface in good working order. As I understand it, 4 million dollars has been set aside to resurface the path, and in many places, to widen it too. Apparently, what has been holding back the construction (for around 4 years now!!!!), is the many differing views about how to makeover the path. In order to widen the path, some trees might need to come down, and many don't want that. Others would simply like the path to be resurfaced, with attention to taking steps to prevent roots from crossing the trail (I'm in this camp. Common people, lets get this beautiful resource back into good working order!!) And there are many other view too.
The last 4 years I've been going to Florida for the winter, and every year I come back with the hopes that something will have begun on that trail. In fact I write this from the New Jersey turnpike, and I will be in MA today. Who know's, maybe this will be the year we get our great trail back!!
This could be a fantastic trail. It has beautiful views of large fields, forests and woods, mountains, swamps, rivers, brooks, as well as at least one lovely old New England village common. But the trail itself needs lots of work. There are literally hundreds of depressions and ridges, some quite high and potentially dangerous, that make this an unpleasant ride for anyone on a road bike or a bike with high tire pressure - anything above 90-100 lbs. A mountain bike would work, but even that I would have doubts about. So, it gets 2-1/2 stars at best. Resurface it and it will be superb. (The Northhampton side of the Connecticut river has been recently resurfaced and is fine - except it's only 1/2 to 3/4 miles long!)
Kudos to the people who marked many of the bumps and drop-offs with yellow paint. October's not the best time to see the warnings, however, since the leaves cover a lot of them.
I rode this trail on 9/5/11. On the positive side, there are beautiful, pastoral views in spots; it's also nicely wooded and shaded in areas -- probably beautiful in the fall. There is a unique bike bridge at one end, and nearby there's a water fountain and air pump station. On the negative side, the trail is narrower than most, needs to have new lines painted, and has considerable bumps (it wasn't too bad for a hybrid bike with shocks). Also, the trail is made with recycled glass, and you can see the shiny pieces of glass embedded in the asphalt -- not the most comforting picture. I road the entire trail up and bike twice to justify the drive and the gas. Would probably grade this a B-.
Right now, the trail goes from the Belchertown line to Leeds, MA. The "old" section, Belchertown line to the CT River is pretty rough, well more than rough, a good portion is very uncomfortable to ride. The section from the CT River west past Look Park in Leeds is relatively new and in nice shape. A new trail branch also connects to the Manhan River Trail in Easthampton (though a small section along Lovefield St in Easthampton is still under construction; Lovefield St is pretty low-traffic so that shouldn't present much problem.).
Eventually it will connect to the Farmington Canal Trail starting in Southwick and ending in New Haven, CT, once Southampton and Westfield get their act together, but that's probably a different review.
I've been to this trail twice with my inline skates, both times in April of 2011. It was pleasant enough, but I don't think I'll go back - at least not with my skates. In the Amherst area (I can't speak for the other end), the trail is cracked in many places which presents a problem for inline skaters. If you want to get out and enjoy a leisurely ride in the fresh air, by all means go; the cracks aren't enough to completely prevent you from skating. But if you're interested in skating quickly enough to get your heart rate up and get a good work out, you may end up falling and getting hurt instead.
This seems like a great trail for walking or biking, and has a few unpaved foot paths that branch off from it. There's plenty of shade and it seems like a safe area for people to enjoy the fresh air. I've seen all sorts of people including elderly couples walking their dogs, young mothers pushing strollers, and families with children riding their bikes. The atmosphere is very pleasant and the people are friendly. It's a shame that there are so many cracks, but I'm more of a fitness skater than a recreational skater.
The Norwottuck Rail Trail is a fairly good trail. I use it both to commute to work and for recreation/training. I use the whole length of the trail frequently, since it is part of my commute to work, but also is located right near where I work, such that I can use it for a lunch time run or bike in the other direction.
The section of trail from Woodmont Ave. in Northampton to Damon Rd (Elwell Park) is fairly new and hence smooth and well marked. Once you get over the bridge (which is a beautiful view of the Connecticut River!), the trail conditions are not so great. I would describe them as quite passable and usable, but full of bumps and ruts. I attribute this to the age of this part of the path and the fact that it is maintained by the state and not by a city or town. Most of the larger bumps (roots!) are marked so you can see them ahead of time. Also the path is much narrower than many of the newer ones. You will not be able to easily pass a pair of bikers side by side. These conditions persist up until the Station Road parking. The last leg of the trail (Station Rd east to Warren Wright Rd) was constructed much more recently and hence is very smooth and wider.
Funds have been allocated to improve the trail and is in the planning stages.
If you are interested in nature, park at the Station Rd, and head west on the trail. There you'll find a swamp with plenty of beautiful things to look at. If you are interested in the commercial shopping side of things, park at the Northampton end and head east over to the malls (the trail goes right behind both the Walmart plaza and the Hampshire Mall).
The trail overall is not very hilly or curvy, and generally easy to bike for all ages. There are many places to stop and rest, but restrooms are not plentiful. There are only porti-potties at the Northampton (Elwell Park) end. The trail is a great off-road outing for everyone- offering diverse options. There are two places to get ice cream on the trail as well as a Panera Bread, and a Whole Foods market.
A word of caution on biking- they made the original trail out of glass. Each year more shards of glass come to the surface and I have seen many folks get flat tires. This is usually more of an issue at the beginning (spring) of the season, before the maintenance crews have a chance to sweep and clean up.
Running the trail can be challenging in places too, due to the same ruts and roots I talked about above. But not so much to make it impossible.
In the winter, the trail provides an excellent path to cross-country ski on, especially from North Maple St. in Hadley, eastward to the Station Road parking, as there are no road crossings.
In summary- a very nice trail, well utilized, but you need to watch out for the bumps and ruts. If you are a road biker, this trail is probably not for you between the pavement conditions and the number of casual users.
With the completion of the extension to the Manhan trail in Easthampton the data and maps should be updated. The F.J.Ryan extension west to Leeds is now almost 5 miles of tar and you can go about 1/2 mile more on some dirt too about 1/2 mile from Rt. 9 in the town of Hadenville. Headed south along the west side of the B&M active RR for about a mile to the old station now a restaurant and then winding thru muni. parking lots at the bus station the trail now heads south for another 4 miles for a total of 10 miles in Northampton to the Manhan Rail Trail.
NORTHAMPTON - The city has inched closer to creating an inter-community network of trails by purchasing a .2-miles stretch of land along the Mill River in Williamsburg.
The property, which was acquired from Laurie B. Farkas for $5,000, would allow for the extension of the Northampton Rail Trail into Williamsburg. The trail currently ends at Grove Avenue in Leeds. Over the past several years, Northampton has bought additional parcels from National Grid and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Springfield that would enable the city to extend the trail to the Northampton/Williamsburg line.
Landowners in Williamsburg have opposed the trail, taking the town to court over its efforts to create a right-of-way. Northampton has given the recently purchased land to Williamsburg with the condition that the city retain an easement that would allow it to create a rail trail in the future. According to city Planning Director Wayne M. Feiden, the property includes 50 feet with a spectacular view of the Mill River. Williamsburg voted overwhelmingly to accept the property at its most recent Town Meeting.
The money for the purchase was donated by Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways, Feiden said, and did not come out of the city coffers.
With the connector between Easthampton and Northampton almost finished we will soon have a Rail Trail system that will be spectacular.
This trail is about 80 miles from where I live. I still went to bike as it was a gorgeous and day and I know Amherst is really a good place. The cracks, bumps and the holes on the trail are marked.
Most of the trail is under the shadow with the trees. I biked on a Saturday so the trail was occupied.
There is one road which is busy and no walk sign either. We have to wait for the cars to see us and allow us to cross. As I use traillink.com very often I decided to bike the NorthHampton trail also which is a connecting trail. This is a short trail which runs behind the buildings , but this trail also is good.
Well maintained. When I got to the end of the current NorthHampton trail , I saw a map with the proposed extension of the trail. I could also see the continuation of the trail, but it was not asphalted yet. As I was riding a hybrid thought will bike further to check it out but could not as I had to cross a busy road and it was too much work to get to the other side.
What I noticed is at the traffic light were we start NorthHampton (mear MacDonald's)I saw a board which read " Bike Route". I did not know which bike route it was. Neither did my iphone point out. It was still afternoon and had my endurance still so I continued reading the markers and the sign boards.This path leads to the city roads and further down. I had no clue how far the bike path extended but still was biking.
As always came across a busy street. While waiting to cross, few other bikers joined me.
I happened to ask them which trail it was and how long did the trail extend. I am told that the trail is still under construction, they are building bridges so that it is easy for us to cross. The trail is about 6-7 miles upto East Hampton. Although is not open publicly it is a bikeable. I biked about 3 miles and then returned.
This is a very nice trail. The beginning is quite bumpy, but smooths out after a couple of miles. The bigger bumps are outlined in yellow, so you can prepare for them. We were aware of the potential glass in pavement issues, but we had no problems. We always ride with an extra set of tubes and a patch kit anyway. It does appear they are actively working to repave the worst sections. I would say 90% of the trail is through wooded areas and the shade made for a very comfortable ride on a rather hot July afternoon. It is a very pretty ride. The views when crossing the CT River were beautiful. I assume this is a crowded trail on weekends. We rode on a Monday afternoon and there were sections that were crowded, and sections it was just us. I might give this trail 5 stars if it were closer than two hours away from my home.
From the east end of the F.P.Ryan and Rt. 5 the first layer of tar is down and is being ridden now. If you park at the stop and shop you can cross rt. 5 and bike south next to the active RR track to the Northampton station and turn behind gleason winding toward the .7 mile rail trail starting just past the Peter Pan bus station. Work has started clearing the ROW south from here to connect with the Manhan at Ferry st. I dont think they will be able to get the bridges done and this part tared before the plants close for the winter but much can be done and could be finished in the spring.
I forgot to mention that there is still a small gap at Look park between the extension. Cross Rt. 9 and take a right on a very small side walk or just ride the street about 1000 yards. One other problem is the lack of parking here without paying to park in Look Park. You are better off back down on Rt.5 at the stop and shop.
the two mile extention from the entrence to Look Park west Leeds is open and the dedication was today.
I understand that the 8,000 extention south toward the Manhan rail trail is partly finished and you can ride to New south st. or almost to rt. 202 now with one small section between Rt. 5 and the bus station. The 4400 meter extention to Ferry St. in Easthampton and the Manhan has just started and depending on the two bridges construction could be done next year.
Rode this trail on Friday September 4th. Started from the main Ellwell State Park parking lot, and rode its length.
Very nice, shaded, fairly well maintained. There are some areas with roots growing underneath, and some bumps/potholes, most of which are marked with yellow paint. But that said, it really is a nice trail and is well used.
Please note that if you go across Damon street, the trail has been extended to connect with the Northampton trail. Right now this extension dead ends at railroad tracks (Woodmont Road) but we just carried our bikes across and a short path led us to the rear parking lot of a McDonalds. If you then cross King Street to the Stop N Shop Plaza, you connect with the Northampton trail behind the Stop N Shop.
If you don't want to cross the tracks, I believe you can ride to one of the side streets which will take you to an intersection that will also cross King Street to the Stop N Shop Plaza.
It is nice that you can bike from Cambridge to Somerville without using streets.
I rode this piece last year and saw it being worked on last week on a cycling trip.
As the trail from Amherst ends in Northampton, it does cross under Route 91 and 9 and becomes dirt. I did ride it over to the dirt field near the power plant, neighborhood and railroad tracks. Then it was supposed to cross Route 5. Last week, construction crews were everywhere working on the trail and closed one lane off and their parking was across the street from the rest of the trail.
The current connection is behind Stop and Shop and is paved and continues to the neighborhood and many miles down the rest of the trail. The trail on the other side where the McDonald's is will be a rail-with-trail" and extend over the main road in the center of trail with a brand new pedestrian bridge. That's a feat and they have the funding. Eventually, I hope it will continue the other 3.5 miles to the Manhan.
"It's a nice trail, lots of scenic view especially the bridge over looking the Connecticut River. Some of the path is really bumpy."
From Rt.122 in Rutland to Sterling about 30 miles of the MC RR is being pieced together. 5 or 6 sections of varying length are now open and bike-able. While not following the old MCRR for the entire length it might be possible in the near future to bike it all without using roads. The best and newest section runs west from Rt.12 in West Boylston for about 5 miles. On the west end from Glenwood Rd. in Rutland to Rt.122 is another longer section and the new underpass at Charrock Rd. and the fern covered rock cut here are not to be missed.
"Right now the 11 mile western paved section called the Norwottuck trail is open to the Belchertown line. A short section west from Damon Rd. to almost Rt.5 in Northampton will be open shortly. Belchertown has acquired 6 1/2 miles of the old RR bed to establish a Greenway thru this town.Right now about 4 miles between Rt.202 and Rt.181 is open and can be biked, But it is dirt and sand, but really a nice ride. East of Rt.181 the old RR bed is in privet ownership and is posted no Wheeled vehicles. So you could hike part of it. I have been exploring the old route to determine and publicize what is now open to biking and if others can provide some input on open sections would appreciate it. "
I think this trail is wonderful and has become a life saver for both my wife and I. Our health has improved dramatically since we started using this trail for walking exercise. I would like to extend a special thanks to Craig Della Penna who has had so much to do with this trail being where it is. Great work Craig and thank you from my heart.
On Sunday September 21st. six of us road the length of the trail and back to the park. Like the Cape Cod trail, this trail needs to be resurfaced. Many of the tree roots are coming up through the surface of the trail, and makes the ride bumpy. Thank goodness for shocks build into the bike fram.
This is the forth time I have ridden this trail and had no problem with flat tires because of the recycled glass in the surface of the trail. I did see two people with a flat tire. Both people did not carry any spare tubes, equipment or know-how to fix a flat. Oh Well.
The Boston Globe West had a great article on commuter and bike trails and how the giant CSX rail company has flustrated local officials in their efforts to acquire tracks for trails. (In Sundays October 21, 2007 news paper). The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail has moneys for expansion but the CSX company is holding up progress.
for that trail. It's worth while to travel a little further by car to the Ashuwillticook Trail.
"I agree with all other riders. Great ride, but should be re-surfaced. Can get crowded, and some people never stay right!"
This trail is made up of recycled glass Stay off this trail unless you enjoy wasting money on tubes you will get a flat
This trail is good if you like to get flat tires. The surface is made of recycled GLASS. Boy why didn't I think of that. Anyway I had to fix two flat tires on the trail and than come home and dug out ten more pieces of glass out of my tires. Stay off this trail if you ride a bike.
"As a whole package, this trail is as good as anything California has to offer (sans sur of course). In the busy season, mount horn, or bell to bike. Saves on trauma to vocal cords. Beware situationally challenged toddlers & animals on trail! The roots are not as bad as sand in your bearings, or going over endless concrete slabs."
"First time on this trail July 2006. The scenery is very nice, picnic tables, available water, all make for a nice trail. The pavement is being torn up by tree roots, though, so it's time for a little TLC?"
"Parked at Mill Lane. Was easy to find. Biked on a hot, hot day. Beautiful trail through tobacco fields, past commercial buildings, through town common ending across railroad bridge. Gotta wonder what they were thinking paving with crushed glass. It crunches under the bike tires. And tiny glass pieces litter the dirt on the edge. Other than that a wonderful trail. Lots of turn outs for resting. Gradual hills are a challenge."
"Between school, work, family, and friends, I've lived and been around this trail for a long time now. My kids and I have walked it, biked it, and bladded it in all four seasons. It seems that there is always something new to see, and always something interesting to do. It's become part of hte backdop of our lives.
Head over and walk there and see for yourselves!"
Went over for a short trip and to explore. Nice to have this plowed and salted in the winter. It will be great when it gets connected to the Norwottuck and Manhan.
"A great trail. I had the best ride this warm November day. I see what they mean by the glass shards... I passed a few areas where there were pockets if ""road glass"". The frost heaves are plentiful. Having an off-road bicycle makes the ride so much more enjoyable. It would be nice to have a few rest stop areas available to relieve the affects of hydrating one's self.
Overall opinion : terrific trail. A great place to ride, walk or skate."
"This was a beautiful 10 mile trail with not that many people using it in mid-July 2005. Only complaint was the rises caused by roots made some jolting bumps. One eatry along the way, but delightful Northampton at the beginning! Parking at N'hampton end was plentiful."
"The trail extension into Northampton really looks great! Once the Atlas columns are moved there, it will look even better!"
"The Good: The trail is nice and long with few street crossings. It's beautiful and rural, especially eastern half, where you can spot some beaver ponds. The surface is generally good.
The Not-So-Good: It's crowded on weekends, espcially the western end. And there are spotty frost heaves and tree roots eager to blow narrow road tires and trip rollerbladers. It would be PERFECT if the trail was repaved. There are no porta potties at the estern end. Goggles or glasses are recommended to keep the bugs out of your eyes."
"I agree with the ""Bring a patch kit"" posting. I blew out a tire. There were at least two other flat tires. I admire the social consciousness of recycling glass, but I believe they're supposed to be crushed a little smaller than 1/2"" by 1/2"" shards! It's a nice trail otherwise!"
"This is a very popular trail, especially the parts closer to the parking areas. It is well used and most people are very polite, but on each of my recent trips I have been startled by a speeding bike ""sneaking"" up on me. Most of the polite riders let you know that they are coming through.
The views of the river are nice, and if you are interested in history, you can see a lot of interesting old stone foundations along the trail."
"This is a nice trail, but it can get pretty crowded with bikers and roller bladers when the weather is nice, epcially when UMASS is in session. Parking at the I-91/rt. 9 trailhead can also be a problem. The trail starts with a nice trestle over the Connecticut River, then continues past backyards, farms, and the shopping malls and stores. At least there are plenty of places to get liquids and snacks. Once you pass the malls, it's less crowded and gets into mostly farmland."
This is an absolutely wonderful trail. Easy access off of I-91 to parking lot. The farther east you go the nicer and less populated the trail gets. Great scenery from the trail of fields and water. We have taken our 2 young children with us twice and they have greatly enjoyed it. One of the best rail trails we have ever been on.
"The ride is comfortable pleasantly shaded. Definitely an easy
trail with little if any hilly terrain. Weekends -- though crowded -- the trail is still safe and enjoyable. Even when crossing main roads with auto access, motorists are polite and yielding and usually stop for bikers.
I have yet to find another trail like it. The only minus is that certain parts of the trail close to Rt. 9 are in need of re-grading; there are large bumps manifesting themselves."
"Get kevlay tires, the pavement is full of little shards of glass. The glass is embeded in the pavement to recycle glass. "
This is one of the nicest rail trails in Mass. I love the fact that in the heat of summer you are riding through tons of shade; it makes for a nice coooool ride.
"Trail is well used and well patroled. The in line skaters can be a little rude (maybe not on purpose) because they can whip up behind you and pass close and fast. I have walked it in sections with my family, and it is always fun."
"The trail is very nice with nice views, but it is in dire need of repaving. There are many major ruts. After going on trails in Rhode Island, it's very noticeable how much this trail needs to be repaved. "
I have run the trail countless times in training for various marathons. It's the perfect way to avoid car traffic and take in the great views of the Conn. valley.
"I am most fortunate to live one mile from this beautiful rail-trail, I and ride it three seasons of the year. The trail is my meditation with its mixture of shade and sunlight, hardwood trees, wild flowers, fields, ponds (filled with peepers noise in the early spring), the occassional fox, deer and beaver. Crossing the Connecticut river on the old rail bridge is always a treat. The trail is home to many species of birds, (the wood thrushes are magnificent with their high twilling songs in late spring and early summer). Lots of other critters too: one day I even saw a moose! Another time I came upon a number of riders stopped to watch a Hawk use the path as a straight a-way; it flew from tree to tree scouting prey.
The trail is actually 9.5 miles long because of a 1.5 mile extender at the Amherst end into Belchertown. There is additional parking not mentioned in the official description at the beginning of the Belchertown section on Warren-Wright Road, and at the corner of Mill Lane and Southeast Streets in Amherst.
You will love this trail!"
"I have ridden this trail several times and have really enjoyed. It's worth trying to find a parking space the Northhampton side. on the way east you'll pass a bike shop and ice cream palor. don't stop then but wait untill you return, then it will be well worth it.
If riding a bike with kids watch for the in-line skaters they can't skate in a straight line. "
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