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The Monadnock Recreational Rail Trail is a great example of a repurposed rail route that provides safe commuting opportunities while also allowing trail users to escape into forest environments for some peace and respite.
Beginning next to the American Legion Post ball field on Webster Street in Jaffrey, the paved trail winds its way south where crosswalks provide access to the unofficial entry point after Stratton Road, which is complete with a Rails-to-Trails sign and information kiosk. From here, your route becomes more serene as the pavement ends near another public ball field. A pleasant sitting area with a bench by the Contoocook River is located just 0.2 mile from here. Note: The 1½ mi marker you see denotes the distance remaining until the Jaffrey–Rindge town line.
For the next 0.75 mile, you will skirt the west boundary of Children’s Woods (28 acres) and Carey Park (100 acres), both owned by the town of Jaffrey and preserved for the study and enjoyment of the region’s natural history. Blazed trails lead directly from the rail-trail.
Heading farther south takes you through the wetlands on the western edge of Contoocook Lake and over a large wooden bridge that offers beautiful sweeping views of the lake and its wildlife. If you are here in summer, you’ll enjoy the smell of pine trees and wildflowers. In spring be on the lookout for turtles hatching on the sandy banks; they may decide to scurry over to the other side of the marsh.
Rounding the bend to your right, you will pass from Jaffrey into Rindge, where the trail is known as the Rindge Rail Trail and the Jack Dupree Memorial Trail. Here, at County Road, you’ll find a public boat launch that offers plenty of parking and access to the lake. Shortly thereafter, you’ll enter the Contoocook Marsh Conservation Area, which offers a small trail loop and benches to enjoy the scenery and wildlife at the wetland’s edge.
From here to the southern endpoint, the trail becomes more challenging with a dirt and grass surface, and a hybrid or mountain bike is recommended. As you pass through West Rindge, the trail becomes much narrower; if you are on a bicycle, keep to the left, as narrow wooden ties still mark the old route.
The next 3.5 miles from State Route 119 offer a serene experience year-round; however, note that the 0.9-mile section between Perkins Road and Rand Road is relatively low-lying and particularly prone to flooding. A sign indicates that the trail is closed to all use in the muddy season. If flooding does occur, you may be forced to detour onto US 202, which provides wide shoulders but is very busy.
A simple granite pillar at the New Hampshire–Massachusetts border marks the trail’s official end. The route continues to Winchendon, though passage is only recommended in winter when snow packs the way.
To reach the northern trailhead from I-293, take the SR 114 exit toward Manchester/Bedford. Merge onto SR 101 W, and go 1 mile. Turn left to remain on SR 101 W, and go 17.6 miles. Turn left again to remain on SR 101 W, and go another 14.7 miles. Turn left onto Grove St., go 0.3 mile, and continue onto US 202 W/Jaffrey Road 5.7 miles. Turn left onto Webster St., and the trail will be on your right in a few hundred feet. Look for parking just farther down on the left across from Oak St.
Technically, one car is permitted to park at the three southernmost crossroad points for the trail at Woods Crossing Road, Rand Road, and Perkins Road; however, cars must not block the access gates, and there is no guarantee that space will be available. The best place to park in the trail’s southern half is just off US 202 in Rindge, about 0.2 mile north of Perkins Road. To reach the US 202 parking area from the intersection of SR 101 and US 202 in Peterborough, head south on US 202 W 6 miles, and in Jaffrey turn right onto Main St./SR 124. Immediately turn left to remain on US 202, and go another 4.6 miles. Look for parking on your left (just before the trail’s access point). The trail’s southern endpoint is located 2.7 miles south along the trail.
From the Jaffrey ball field it was very populated with houses and led us along the busy road. I am sure would be fine for biking or snow mobile, but not a peaceful walk.
I just read some of the reviews from wimpy riders. The "transition"in Winchendon from fading trail to "bushwacking" unfortunately is still true although there is a clear path to the right that one should take before the factory detritus. I have never seen drug deals, drug paraphenalia or homeless people there although I have disturbed some real turkeys.
Take a left and follow the road to the end. If you look to the left you'll see (and can follow) the original rail trail to a paved road. From there just cut across Main to the YMCA and follow the paved portion again along Whitney Pond.
Cross Glenallen Street and this trail is now paved. (Complete with parking lot and lane markings). Follow this to the end then turn right onto North Ashburnham Road, then right onto Spring St (Rt 12) Take first left onto Old Gardner Road. Pick up paved Rail Trail again to Rt. 140. (Parking lot included.)This is the official end HOWEVER if you continue across the street you can still follow the original roadbed again. Not paved but quite negotiable.We get off on Park Street and street ride to Gardner Ale house.
The trail is great from Jaffrey to Robbins stream in Winchendon, MA- but once you approach the abandoned pallet factory, be very careful. You have to bushwhack through the woods to get out and you end up in the back of the factory. I've since been told it's a hangout for drug users and homeless, and several incidents have occurred there over the past couple years. It's dangerous even just for all the broken glass. The town of Winchendon needs to get their act together and clean it up before something happens to a cyclist who stumbles into it. I suggest turning back once you reach the water.
Did it in the summer and it was fantastic. It seems to continue into mass but I didn't try going further.
I mountain biked this trail in early September from Jaffrey down into Winchendon MA. The scenery was spectacular. There were enough other cool things to discover to keep the ride really interesting. Bridges, stone markers, a quarry along the way, and lots of vistas over water. Just south of the Mass border, the trail is surrounded by water and there's an old bridge made from rail ties. It looks like this part of the trail may be under water after a good rain. As you get closer to Winchendon, the trail starts reducing to single track and deep weeds. I turned around at an old factory near Lincoln Ave. At this point the trail goes along side of what's left of the original rail ties.
that this is rumored to be the 2nd most traversed range in the world [after Mt. Fuji if you're curious]. This is a short (roughly 2 hours) yet steep hike that offers well worn trails, some shade but enough sun to get some color, beautiful views of the forests and hills of NH, and you will certainly work up a sweat. There are a number of trails to select - try them all and enjoy.
We have ridden this trail several times this summer. Yes it starts out paved, but that surface ends quickly. BTW, we have done this whole trail on our road bikes, but easier with mt bikes.
We started off in Jaffrey at the Lab and Larger then rode through Jaffrey and Rindge crossing 202. Just north of the Mass line are a few water bars, but you'll stay dry if you stay on planks that previous riders have thoughtfully placed for you. The views are outstanding and we are looking forward to doing this trail during the fall foliage season. Once you cross over into Mass there are ties still down, the trail turns into single track and finally vanishes. We turned into a parking lot of an old factory that burned several years ago. We called this the "Stephen King" movie set. Its a bit spooky looking.This is Lincoln Ave in Winchendon. After consulting Google Earth, we did regain the path of the old railroad trail as it continued through town and ended at the aptly named Railroad Street. From there you hop on a town road that runs near the YMCA. Here there is a paved portion that runs along Whitney Pond. (Some very interesting old factory and storage buildings from the RR's heyday.) This ends at the 140/12 and 202 intersection. The more intrepid will cross the road and follow the original rail trail. Here there appears to be three trails that run parallel to each other. The two to the left have some vestiges of the railroad's history with ties still in place and the one to the right, closest to the road, has only the cinders base. If you choose this one you'll hear Rt 12 road traffic, bounce over roller coater mini hills and dodge more than a few puddles. It ends by the Carriage House Restaurant.
If you take the old rail trail, be advised it is somewhat overgrown, has ties and low branches and crosses over two original RR bridges that are not for the feint of heart. This trail turns into sand and exits out what appears to be a business driveway. If you cross the road you can pick up the trail bed again but it is rough as well. This will end at the Winchendon paved rail trail which runs for several miles of pure smooth riding pleasure. At the end of the paved trail you'll have to cross the road and travel on a service road that passes by an electrical power installation. This part of the rail trail will end after a couple of miles at a very well groomed cemetery in North Gardner. We celebrate our trip by going to the Gardner Ale house and having our husbands pick us up there. A well spent 20 miles !
Started in Jaffrey pavement for .4 miles then hard packed gravel and cinder until 3.8 miles at this point the trail deteriorates railroad ties have not been removed and a pile of firewood was dumped in the middle of the trail. I got the feeling the homeowner was not happy with a trail through his backyard. Turned around at 4.0. First 3.0 miles very scenic and lots of ponds/bogs on either side of trail. Hopefully the trail will be improved in the future.
In summary nice short ride on north end of trail.
The trail description states that the trail is paved from Jaffrey to Rindge and so I thought I could jump on and ride the leg from Rindge to Jaffrey which came at about mile 70 of a 100 mile ride. So I found the trail off Rt 202 and headed North. However I found that it was all packed gravel and when I asked a local if it was paved later on toward Jaffrey he stated that it was never paved. Anyhow, I turned around. Regardless it looked great and I plan to return on my MTB, but was a little bummed that it was a fruitless detour during a long ride. Could someone update the description so that it doesn't advertise that it is paved from Jaffrey to Rindge?
Last Sunday, October 9 on a beautiful autumn day my wife and I decided to try the Jaffrey rail trail. We live just one town north but had never tried the trail before. The trail starts right in the middle of Jaffrey and proceeds south through Rindge, NH into Winchendon, MA. The first section from Jeffrey to Rindge is in amazing condition with lots of signs and great views of ponds. The next section is still quite undeveloped and just before the Rindge, New Hampshire Main Street you need to ride on the side of the trail because there are still railroad ties! from there the trail is quite undeveloped and has sections of loose sand and gravel so having a hybrid or mountain bike is a must. We didn't quite make it to the Massachusetts border but certainly will be going back to finish the trail.
Road the trail this morning on my cross trail bike. Started out in Jaffery. It is a gravel trail all the way. All bridges have been repaired. Took me an hour to reach the end of the trail which was at Lincoln ave in Winchendon Mass. Two parts of the trail had been recently graded and a little soft but should be OK once people use it. The last quarter mile was a little rough over rail road ties still in place but doable on a mountain bike. One part on the Mass side had some water on the trail but I was able to bike through it. Water was about 8 to 10 inches deep and we just had some rain 2 days before. I'm sure the water will recede in the summer. This is a trail worth checking out.
Your description of this rail trail says that the trail is paved from Jaffrey to Rindge. "At the Rindge line it turns to packed gravel."
Please note that it is paved for only the first hundred yards or so, leaving Jaffrey. For all intents and purposes, it is entirely packed gravel.
Cyclists with road tires could be quite disappointed.
Otherwise, it is a nice ride.
Ted Bailey Tedbail@verizon.net
This is a very scenic ride but hard to find from the south. It is not finished into Mass. and the southern end is in the yard of an old mill in Winchendon behind piles of wood pallets. If you start in Jaffrey it starts as tar with nice benches and passes by and thru a long lake and dam. At the Rindge line it turns to packed gravel and as you get closer to the mass. line is packed ash possibly from a foundry or elect. generating plant. Across the mass. line it is unimproved except for what the snow mobiles do and one bridge is out with a plank across. Much of the RR ties are still there and the trail ends very near the Cheshire branch. It looks like the trail does go north to Peterborough but I did not have the time to explore more.
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