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Following the floodplain of the West River Valley, the 16-mile West River Trail (a.k.a. Railroad Bed Trail) appeals to a wide range of trail users. The rail-trail has a nearly level surface, ideal for walkers, cyclists and equestrians, while a rugged section satisfies avid hikers. The West River Railroad once traveled this corridor, linking the industrial communities of Brattleboro and Londonderry.
Starting in South Londonderry, the trail takes you for a scenic 2.7-mile tour along the gently flowing river before reaching the Winhall Campground (day-use fee may apply even if not camping). Suitable for all trail uses, this section really captures the essence of this quiet river valley. Once you reach the campground, there is a gap in the trail. Follow the campground roads up to the bridge where you can safely cross a small creek, then follow the campground roads back down again to rejoin the trail along the river bank, where you can continue on the rail-trail.
A half mile past the campground, the trail seems to reach an abrupt end. Mountain bikers will want to turn back here. But if you're up for a rugged hike, look to your right for the purple marker indicating the continuation of the trail.
The rail-trail continues for 3.5 miles before reaching the massive Ball Mountain Dam. Follow the trail signs closely for a route to the top of the dam, and you'll be treated to spectacular views of the river valley flanked by the gentle slopes of the Green Mountains. On the far side of the dam, a unique switchback trail slices into the side of the dam and takes you to the base where you rejoin the river.
From the base of the dam, it's another 3.5 miles to this segment's end. The path here opens up and is once again suitable for bicyclists and equestrians. Shaded by a canopy of dense hardwood trees, you'll trace the banks of the West River to the trailhead at Jamaica State Park (fees apply).
Farther south, the trail picks up again on Rice Farm Road in Dummerston and stretches through scenic, quiet landscapes for 3.5 miles to Brattleboro. Eventually, it's hoped to link it to New Hampshire's Ashuelot Rail-Trail.
To access the South Londonderry trailhead, take State Route 100 into the town of South Londonderry. Turn south on North River Street and follow it to the trailhead at the road's end. (Note: Don't be deterred by private property signs along the way; keep going to the road's end.)
To reach the Jamaica State Park trailhead from South Londonderry, take State Route 100 into Jamaica and turn left onto Depot Road. Follow Depot Road to the entrance of the state park.
To reach the Black Mountain trailhead in Dummerston: From Route 30, turn onto the Green Iron Bridge. At the far side of the bridge, turn right (south) onto Rice Farm Road. The trailhead is a half mile from the bridge on the left (west) side of the road.
To reach the Marina trailhead in Brattleboro: From Putney Road (Route 5), make a hard right onto Spring Tree Road (just before the bridge over the West River). Continue for just under a half mile to the trailhead.
Tried biking from Brattleboro but major construction going on and will be for some time
Only rode under a mile before we hit major construction
I commute to work by bicycle, a few days a week. I feel lucky to have a alternative route if I don't feel like using route 30. Thank you TrailLink
This was a really pretty, fairly level trail,7 miles round trip, a great option for riders and horses who are are not looking for a lot of hill work. The construction area under the I-91 bridge was a bit harrowing, I think that would be the only challenge for novice riders or spooky horses. ( also, one 10 - 15 foot wooden bridge over a stream in the woods) About 1/2 mile north of the big bridge are some small side paths through the woods to the river; one of them leads to a fairly level spot to reach the water. I parked my 2-horse trailer in the Marina restaurant parking lot, but if you follow the start of the trail past the kayak launch, there is a trail-specific area with enough room for a trailer. Some parts of the trail have a a gravel base and might be hard on some barefoot horses; mine is moderately rugged and was OK.
The middle section north of Townshend Dam has several new sections including a floating boardwalk across beaver ponds. The southern section has received a lot of drainage and surface work and is much improved from the Marina Restaurant north. HOWEVER, during 2014-2015, the beginning section where it passes under Interstate 91 will be occasionally closed as the bridge is replaced. When that happens, use the trailhead at Fox Farm Road.
"Started exploring this trail from the south at Townshend Dam off Rt.30. This trail is a mix of footpath and rail trail. You have to descend via some great stone steps at the dam to the old Rt. 30 which I assume is the old RR, but can not get to East Jamaica on Mt. bikes. The first half is a tared road and they are putting in a bridge as I write this to cross a small stream and follow the old RR North to East Jamaica. We next went to Ball Mt. Dam on the advice of a worker on the bridge because you have to pay to access the trail from Jamaica State Park. also it is down hill from the dam to the park. Just before the dam is a parking area and it is tared down under the spill way. the Rail trail starts on the east side of the dam and is marked footpath and the switch backs down the dam are sharp and should be walked unless you are in control descending. For about the next 1/2 mile you descend on a very rocky trail and should walk if you are like me unsure of your skill. It then flattens out and is really great riding all the way to Jamaica State Park. I road south from here for about 1/2 mile and the trail started to deteriorate as a previous biker said and turned around. Next we returned to Ball Mt. Dam and looked for the trail and found it thru a small opening in a guard rail at the parking area. After about 200 ft. of single track it opened up and looked like good riding. we found the first blazing here with small signs. they are a violet color and it is blazed up to where you return to the rail trail in about 2 miles. Trail conditions are hiking quality only and I walked my bike thru although my companion who is a better rider than me road a lot of it except the short steep uphills. I would advise you to skip this and go to Winhall camp ground and bike both south and north along the river to do this section. The trail has a lot of potential and is very scenic and is very remote. If it was finish all the way to Brattleboro it would be a great off road alternative to Rt. 30 & 100. "
"I first tried to access the trail in South Londonderry fron West River Road. When I passed the old junkyard I came upon piles of trash on both sides of the road and a ""keep out"" sign on the road. I felt like I was on tobacco road so I turned around and left.
I next tried the Winhall campground but it was closed for the season (it was Oct. 20th) and there didn't appear to be any place to park. I next tried Jamaica State Park and it too was closed. Across the street was what looked like a continuation of the rail trail. It would be nice if there was some sort of sign.
I rode down this trail and it was beautiful for about a mile except for the trees across the trail. After about a mile it turned into a tangle of underbrush so I turned around. When I got back there were a lot of cars parked around the entrance to the State park so I decided it must be OK to go into the park.
The two miles of trail in the park is the most scenic rail trail I've ever seen. The rail trail ends at a dam but there is a trail that continues up the side of the dam. My partner on the ride was not up to pushing her bike up a 300 foot dam so we turned back.
I would have liked to do more of the trail but it's hard to get to and when you do find something that looks like a trail there's no trail signs or markers to give you the warm feeling that you're not going to get shot for trespassing. "
Great rail bed trail. Easy grade. Kids all enjoyed the ride & views. Bring fishing gear or a picnic lunch. There are many foot trails off the main trail for the adventurous.
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