Winnipesaukee River Trail

New Hampshire

Winnipesaukee River Trail Facts

States: New Hampshire
Counties: Belknap, Merrimack
Length: 5.1 miles
Trail end points: Central St./US 3/SR 11 (Franklin) and Tilton Rd/SR 140 (Tilton)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6132185
Trail activities: Bike, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Winnipesaukee River Trail Description

The Winnipesaukee River Trail courses along its namesake river, connecting the towns of Franklin and Tilton-Northfield. The trail passes through an unusual upside-down covered bridge—believed to be the nation's only one—listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other historic sites along the trail include mill and dams ruins, which attest to the milling history of the area.

As of August 2011, the western segment of the trail extends from Trestle View Park in downtown Franklin to parking area adjacent to NH 132/Park Street across from Elm Street (near the Hall Memorial Library on NH 132/Park Street) in Northfield. To reach the eastern segment, you have to use Main Street (US 3/SR 11/132) and pick up the trail again near where the road intersects with Grant Street and Morrison Avenue. (There is a temporary link via sidewalk but cyclists should use caution on the busy road.) Head toward the river on Morrison Avenue to find the eastern segment, which runs for about 0.6 mile to SR 140/Tilton Road. This segment of the trail is not yet paved and can be in poor condition.

The two segments will soon be linked and will include a bridge that will empty onto Granite Street in Northfield, with signs guiding you to Elm Street where you can pick up the trail toward Franklin.

If you're a railroad buff, you can visit a collection of antique rail cars in Northfield. If not, you can still pay homage to the rail line without whom this scenic rail-trail may not have been possible.

The Winnipesaukee River Trail is part of a regional trail system that will extend throughout the lakes region of New Hampshire. At the Franklin end of the trail, you can pick up the Northern Rail-Trail – Merrimack County.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available off Central Street in Franklin, just south of the river. Parking is also available in Tilton, where Park Street intesects Elm Street.

Winnipesaukee River Trail Reviews

Trail through Tilton isn't easy to follow. You best start at the train depot (Merrimack Valley RailRoad) where there is a great assortment of cabooses. Behind the cabooses is a parking lot and a park. At the far end of the playing fields you can pick up the trail and head toward Franklin.

The second of trail on the other side of town is very industrial, crosses under an under construction highway bridge, and then is an overgrown path between a McDonalds and Burger Kind. Not very scenic there. If you want to do this segment, use the trail head and parking lot at ~ 178 E Main St.

The first portion of the trail was scenic and very enjoyable. The half of the trail that cut through the town was difficult to follow due to poor trail labeling.

This is a great bike trail but it needs to be patrolled by the police. For several years there was a registered sex offender who spent most of the day at the picnic table at the trail head in Franklin. Very creepy and intimidating for women using the trail.


It was a nice trail to walk with my dog. WE found a place to park along the main road, with a sign and sort of entrance onto the railtrail. We walked a couple miles past some ponds and along the river. I liked the old bridges and reminders of the railroad along the way. There were not many signs and I had driven along most of it and turned around before I figured out where to park and where it was located. After a few trips past I saw where I could have parked in Franklin.

Overgrown, spent 1mile on a VERY Main Street... Not ideal with kids (we had them in tow). Poor parking & signage- we parked at the days inn because there were tons of signs says "parking for mcdonalds customers only". Had we not stopped at the intersection in town to check the map we would have had NO IDEA the trail took a hard left and went off through road through a park. .... But there was NO WAY I was riding with my kids on the busy, busy Main Street! So bummed about this trail... Avoid it at all costs....

This trail was amazing to walk during the fall foliage season. It's a pretty even walk the whole way. With the river rushing alongside, the remains of all the old mill buildings, the old Upside-Down Covered Bridge...

I only wish it was here when I still lived here.

Started from Franklin and rode to the end near the Tilton McDonalds. The first part was fantastic to look down on the rushing river. Crossed the bridge in Tilton to eat lunch in the park along the river. After that, not comfortable riding along the main drag to pick up the eastern end of the trail,(sign about 1/2 mi. down on right, and we felt the bumps and lack of scenery made it not worth the road ride for the extra 2 miles of trail.

Great running trail if you start in Franklin and complete the uphill work initially. Once I arrived in Tilton past the cabooses, I lost the trail. It must follow sidewalks on the north side of Main St.

Is there any parking at the end of the trail at Rt 140 in Tilton, NH? New McDonald?

I have yet to find the trail anyplace else - and parking.

Could someone from the area please e-mail me as I find no contact information for this trail on the website.

This is in response to the "If its not broke" review. Sorry to hear the paved section is causing you pains. Unfortunately, paving was necessary on the section you mentioned because the section kept washing away with every heavy rain. It was costing a lot of money to repair the section over-and-over, and paving was determined to be the best way to prevent further damage. We hope you can continue to enjoy the non-paved sections of the trail!

Why was the Trestle View Trail head PAVED?? I am heart sick about this. I am middle age and a working fool . The peace that the trial gave me was a way to rejuvenate. The Paved surface is hard on my feet and knees and causes back spasms. A new parking lot and foot bridge over the river would have been an improvment.
I know there are others that agree.

I hope there is not more blacktop in the future on this beautiful, natural resource.
With sadness, Bonnie Laughy

Growing up, I have such fond memories of riding my bicycle on a river trail. Thouth the Winni Trail was not the one, I do remember learning to skip stones on the river that paralleled the trail. There were conveient pull out areas where the views were fantastic.
The Winni Trail reminds me so much of that trail.
New Hampshire in these tough economic times has one strong resource that is sustainable, and that industry is tourism. You have done a great job in improving on that industry, by focusing on our history and great vistas that exist in our state and specifically in the lakes region.

"Although this is a great trail for walking, bike riding, running and cross country skiing; I would never try to in-line skate on it."

I have enjoyed walking this trail and my favorite trail sections are alongside the Winni River. Im looking forward to the completion of phase II where it connects to the Lake Winnisqaum Scenice Trail (Belmont) and from there connecting to the W.O.W. trail (Laconia).

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