COMMON PATHWAY/OLD RAILROAD TRAIL:
PETERBOROUGH, NEW HAMPSHIRE
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: July 11, 2017
Length: Common Pathway; 5.5 miles
Old Railroad Trail; 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Common Pathway; Easy. Flat paved/hard packed dirt and gravel rail trail with some on-road sections.
Old Railroad Trail; Moderate. Hard packed dirt rail trail. Less developed.
From the junction of Routes 124 & 202 in Jaffrey; Travel north on Route 202 for 5.3 miles. The Noone Falls parking lot is on your right. Continue north on Route 202 through Peterborough to Routes 123 & 202 north. Turn left on Main St over the river, then right on Summer St and travel north. The Summer St parking lot will be on your right after 0.9 miles.
The Common Pathway follows parts of the rail bed of the old Monadnock Branch Railroad, along with some on-road sections. This was one of many extension line railroads built to help expand the Fitchburg Railroad/Vermont & Massachusetts Railroad into New Hampshire. This line was to serve the New Hampshire towns on the eastern side of Mount Monadnock, mainly Jaffrey and Peterborough. The Monadnock finally opened from Winchendon to Jaffrey, New Hampshire in December 1870 and then to Peterborough by late spring 1871, from which the Peterborough & Hillsborough Railroad could take traffic further north to Concord. Another section of this rail trail exist south in Jaffrey & Rindge. See; Monadnock Branch Rail Trail . The Old Railroad Trail follows the old rail bed of the former B&M RR north into Hancock. For more information visit; PETERBOROUGH TRAILS .
Starting from Noone Falls parking lot; Travel north along the paved Common Pathway as it heads into the woods next to Route 202. The trail parallels Route 202 above to your left and the Contoocook River down along your right. The pavement is getting old and cracked but still fairly smooth. The river pulls away and you soon come to Grove St, next to Route 202 at 0.6 miles where the paved trail ends. Head right on-road (low volume traffic) along Grove St extension to a plaza and parking lot. Follow the edge of the plaza alongside the river and you'll pick up the paved trail on your right after 1 mile. The trail travels underneath Wilton Rd alongside the river then back out to Wilton Rd. Head right to Grove St at 1.2 miles. Here the trail continues north on-road (sidewalk available). Pass by Putnam Park before crossing over Nubanusit Brook (small Dam) and entering downtown at 1.6 miles. Turn right on Main St then left up Summer St (on-road/sidewalk/narrow paved trail available). Pick up the paved trail again on your right at 2.6 miles. The trail follows the Contoocook River, passing by the Summer Street parking lot, before returning to Summer St at 2.8 miles. Continue north a short distance along a Bike Lane before the trail heads back into the woods. You lose the river, but not the wetlands associated with it. A crosswalk over Hunt Rd at 3.4 miles brings you to another short on-road section along Tarbell Rd (residential). This brings you to Nichols Lane where you continue straight past the gate and utilize the paved service Rd (closed to traffic). The Service Rd ends after 0.3 miles and the paved trail resumes heading into deep woods. A straight shot through a tall Hemlock stand. When you reach a roundabout for Prescott Hill & Southfield Lane roads at 4.6 miles follow it left to rejoin the now hard packed gravel trail into the woods. Come alongside Route 202 and follow the narrow paved trail as it parallels then travels underneath Route 202 at 5.3 miles. Caution; poor drainage leads to some deep water through the tunnel.
Note; A dirt trail on your left just before the tunnel leads to a parking lot just off Route 202 and directly opposite Scott Mitchell Rd.
After emerging from the tunnel the trail becomes hard packed dirt & gravel. The trail parallels Scott Mitchell Rd, crosses the entrance for the Recycling Center and comes to a sign on your right at 5.5 miles. A dirt path on your left leads to the Scott Mitchell Rd parking area.
From the Scott Mitchell Rd parking area the hard packed dirt trail continues north along the Old Railroad Trail into deep woods. You'll occasionally travel alongside the Contoocook River. Cross a dirt road where you'll find open fields along your left. The trail gets rougher beyond here, with more tree roots to contend with. Cross over Cavender Rd (dirt) and along a driveway before rejoining the rail trail. Come to a culvert for the Ferguson Brook at 7 miles. This is as far as I traveled. The trail continues north out to Forest Rd in Hancock at 8 miles.
CLICK HERE FOR TOWN MAP
CLICK HERE FOR COMMON PATHWAY MAP
CLICK HERE FOR OLD RAILROAD TRAIL MAP
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