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The North Central Pathway is envisioned as a trail network connecting points of interest through and between Winchendon and Gardner. Several completed sections of trail make for a lovely ride or walk between these two towns, punctuated by a stretch of less than a mile requiring travel on public roads.
Beginning at the northern endpoint in Winchendon at Clark Memorial YMCA on Summer Drive, this well-maintained asphalt trail parallels Whitney Pond before arriving at another parking lot for trail users in 0.9 mile at Glenallen Street and MA 12. Continuing east from here, the path soon enters beautiful bogs where one can easily imagine moose inhabiting—and a close eye may just see one. This stretch of trail is railroad-straight as it sits just above the shallow waters, with light tree canopy allowing the sun’s rays to reach the ground.
Traveling 2 miles past Whitney Pond brings trail users to the terminus of this segment at North Ashburnham Road, where a short gap exists before the next section of designated trail. To access the next section, turn right onto North Ashburnham Road and follow it to make another right onto MA 12/Spring Street. Continue west on MA 12 approximately 800 feet and make a left onto Old Gardner Road. Continuing down Old Gardner Road about 0.5 mile leads to the trail once again.
Another parking lot for trail users is located at the intersection of Old Gardner Road and MA 140/Gardner Road. From this point, whether starting here or having arrived from Winchendon, the route continues as a well--maintained asphalt path through forest and bog. Approximately 2 miles from the Old Gardner Road parking lot, a trailside bike repair station with air and basic tools has been installed, along with a bench for those wishing to rest a bit. Another mile of smooth trail leads to the crossing of MA 140/Green Street, where a small parking area suitable for one or two vehicles is located.
After the MA 140 crossing, the trail turns to packed dirt suitable for many bicycles, though narrow tires may find the terrain challenging. This section of trail stretches approximately 1.5 miles, ending near Crystal Lake Cemetery in Gardner. Crystal Lake is a beautiful body of water with great views atop the cemetery. There is no parking directly at the Gardner endpoint, nor is the trail as inviting or developed as its northern endpoint in Winchendon.
Nearby trails include the 7.2-mile Monadnock Recreational Rail-Trail, just 2.2 miles north of the Winchendon endpoint; and the 1.3-mile Ashburnham Rail Trail, 5.2 miles from the small parking area at MA 140/Green Street.
To reach the northern endpoint behind the Clark Memorial YMCA in Winchendon from the intersection of MA 2 and US 202 in Phillipston, Massachusetts, head north on US 202 for 10 miles, and turn left onto Central St. as you approach Winchendon. Go 0.3 mile, then turn right onto Grove St. The trailhead is located behind the YMCA on Summer Dr.
To reach the northern endpoint behind the Clark Memorial YMCA in Winchendon from the intersection of NH 119 and US 202 in Rindge, New Hampshire, head south on US 202 for 5.1 miles, and turn right to remain on US 202. In another 1.7 miles, turn left onto Central St. In 0.2 mile, turn left onto Grove St. The trailhead is located behind the YMCA on Summer Dr.
To reach the parking lot at Old Gardner Road and MA 140/Gardner Road in Winchendon from the intersection of US 202 and NH 119 in Rindge, New Hampshire, head south on US 202 for 5.1 miles. Continue on Glenallen St. as you approach Winchendon. In 1.6 miles, take a sharp left onto MA 12 S/Spring St. Go 1.5 miles, then continue straight on MA 140 S for 1 mile. Turn left onto Old Gardner Road. Parking will be to your left, with the alternate trailhead across the street.
To reach the parking lot at Old Gardner Road and MA 140/Gardner Road in Winchendon from the intersection of MA 2 and US 202 in Phillipston, Massachusetts, head east on MA 2 for 10.2 miles, and take Exit 24A. Head north on W. Main St./MA 140 toward Winchendon. In 6.1 miles at Old County Road, keep right to stay on MA 140/Gardner Road. In another 2.4 miles, turn right onto Old Gardner Road. Parking will be to your left, with the alternate trailhead across the street.
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