KEENE TRAILS:

KEENE, NEW HAMPSHIRE

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:      August 24, 2023

Length:                Jonathan Daniels Trail; 1 mile

                              Appel Way Trail; 1.2 miles

                              Ashuelot Rail Trail; 21.2 miles (0.4 mile connection to Ashuelot River Park) 

                              Ashuelot Rail Trail; Northern Section: 0.6 miles paved & 4.2 miles stone-dust.

                              Downtown Cheshire Trail; 0.6 miles. Cheshire Rail Trail; North; 13.5 miles. Total combined; 14.1 miles

                              Downtown Cheshire Trail; 0.6 miles paved. Cheshire Rail Trail; North; 3.9 miles crushed gravel

                              Ami Brown Trail; 1 mile

                              Keene Industrial Heritage Trail; 1.4 miles (0.6 mile connection from Ashuelot River Park)

                              Cheshire Rail Trail; South; 18.5 miles (0.9 mile on-road connection from Keene Industrial Heritage Trail)                        

Difficulty:            Jonathan Daniels Trail; Easy. Flat stone-dust trail.

                              Appel Way Trail; Easy. Paved trail, but with a few hills.

                              Ashuelot Rail Trail; Northern Section: Easy. Flat, paved & stone-dust rail trail. Southern Section: Moderate. Flat, hard packed dirt, grass & gravel rail trail.

                              Downtown Cheshire Trail; Easy. Flat, paved rail trail.

                              Cheshire Rail Trail; North; Easy. Mostly flat, stone-dust & hard packed dirt rail trail.

                              Ami Brown Trail; Difficult. Wide, crushed gravel steep hill climb up to the Cheshire Rail Trail North.

                              Keene Industrial Heritage Trail; Easy. Paved, mostly flat rail trail.

                              Cheshire Rail Trail; South; Moderate. Hard packed dirt, grass & gravel rail trail.

Directions:

From I-91 take exit 3 to Route 9 east to the Route 10 junction in Keene. Continue left along Route 9. Take the West St exit.

To start from Ashuelot River Park (Keane Center; Access to all Trails); Turn right (east) on West St. Just after crossing over the Ashuelot River you'll come to a traffic light at Island St. Turn left into the shopping plaza and park on the left next to Ashuelot River Park. All four trails may be accessed from here. 

To start from Wheelock Park (Appel Way & Jonathan Daniels Trails); Turn left (west) on West St. Bear right up Park Ave. Just past the intersection with Arch St will be the entrance to the park. When the road splits bear right and travel past the pool and tennis courts and park next to the Camping road entrance. The trail starts just down this road on the right. 

To start from the Center at Colony Mill parking lot (Ashuelot Rail Trail) [Northern End]; Turn right (east) on West St and travel 0.7 miles to School St and turn right. Follow School St to Emerald St and turn right. Turn right into the Center at Keene plaza. The trail begins to your left on the opposite side of Emerald St.

To start from the Northfield Road parking lot (Ashuelot Rail Trail) [Southern End]; Take exit 1 off I-91to Route 5 north. Continue straight on Route 119, crossing over the Connecticut River into NH. Turn right after 6.7 miles along Route 63 south. After 2 miles you'll come to the parking lot on your right. The trail is across the road.

The Keene Trails consist of four intersecting trails all connecting in the center of Keene. The Cheshire Rail Trail is broken into four segments as it travels East-West through Keene; The Cheshire Rail Trail South, Keene Industrial Heritage Trail, Downtown Cheshire Trail and Cheshire Rail Trail North. The Ashuelot Rail Trail travels South from Keene, while the combined Appel Way Trail & Jonathan Daniels Trail travels North. All four trails intersect near Ashuelot River Park in Keene. From the park you may connect to the 3 trails south of West St via the Roundhouse T Connector [A series of interconnected sidewalks and trails].

The Cheshire Rail Trail runs along the former bed of the Cheshire Railroad which ran from Winchendon, MA to Bellows Falls, VT. The Cheshire Railroad was merged into the Fitchburg in 1890, becoming the Cheshire Branch. Passenger service ended in 1958, and the line was abandoned in sections. The Ashuelot Rail Trail follows the rail bed of the former Ashuelot Railroad, which operated from 1851 to 1983 between Keene and Hinsdale. For more information See; KEENE TRAILS , CHESHIRE RAIL TRAIL SOUTH & SWANZEY RAIL TRAILS .

Directions for all 4 interconnecting trails start from Ashuelot River Park. The trails start by the arch to Ashuelot River Park, next to West Street. 

Jonathan Daniels Trail & Appel Way Trail:

Starting from Ashuelot River Park; Head North along the wide stone-dust Jonathan Daniels Trail through the park, where you'll find benches, a pavilion and gardens.

Note; A pedestrian bridge on your left leads over the Ashuelot River to a promenade overlooking a dam.

You exit the park and travel alongside the river along a narrow trail. Bear left at the Y and travel through the woods. After a mile you'll come to the paved Appel Way Trail

Note; Heading right the paved trail brings you up a small hill to Court St after 0.2 miles.

Head left over the river via a pedestrian bridge. The Appel Way Trail travels alongside the river and underneath Route 9 before Looping back through a tunnel and up to Route 9. Travel alongside Route 9, over Route 12 and then back into the woods along a hilly section that brings you into Wheelock Park. You come to campground road and a small green road sign for Appel Way. Travel left and you'll come to the Wheelock Park parking lot after 1.8 miles. Picnic tables & pavilions are located here. The trail travels through the park out to Park Ave at 2 miles.

Downtown Cheshire Trail & Cheshire Rail Trail; North:

Starting from Ashuelot River Park; Head South along the Roundhouse T Connector by crossing West St via the cross-lights and travel on-road ( sidewalk available) along Island St  for 0.1 miles to the start of the Downtown Cheshire Trail on your right. 

The paved Downtown Cheshire Trail travels West along a residential and commercial corridor crossing the Ashuelot River via an old RR bridge before crossing Pearl St where you'll find a Map Board. You then come to a ramp for a bridge.

Note; A Spur Trail left of the bridge takes you north out to West St.

Follow the ramp up to North Bridge and cross over Route 9 to the stone-dust Cheshire Rail Trail; North at 0.7 miles. Cross West St, then Bradford Rd at 1.4 miles. The trail now leaves the town behind traveling along a high berm between the Keene Country Club. After crossing an access road for the club you head into the deep woods and up a slight incline. Come to the Whitcom Mill Rd parking lot at 2.3 miles. Map Board. 

Note; At 2.6 miles a side trail leads to Stonewall Farm, which has nature trails-barns & a learning center.

You then travel through a cut, pass underneath a sign reading "Caution Horses on Trail", then along another high berm before crossing the Arch St tunnel at 2.9 miles. At 3.5 miles you must detour around a deep RR rock cut by heading left around it out to Hurricane Road at 3.7 miles. Cross the road and travel down a slight hill where you'll rejoin the old rail bed. The wide crushed gravel trail continues heading into deep woods at 4 miles. Travel along a high berm before coming to a spur trail on your right at 4.4 miles.

Note; This is the 1st of two spur trails for the Ammi Brown Trail.

Continue straight through a cut to a 2nd spur trail for the Ammi Brown Trail at 4.5 miles. The next section has not been upgraded to crushed gravel.

Note; Both spur trails for the Ammi Brown Trail are crushed gravel and travel East. Both spur trails meet at a junction with a bench. This section is all downhill (steep) bringing you to Summit Ridge Dr after 0.5 miles. Head left on-road (residential) BIKE SHARROWS to Summit Rd at 0.7 miles where you'll pick up the crushed gravel trail which travels right past the Summit Road parking lot. The trail continues South alongside the road bringing you to the entrance for the humongous YMCA building at 1 mile. This is part of a planned continuous bicycle and pedestrian Loop from Keene. 

Continuing straight along the narrow, hard packed dirt & gravel trail. Very ridable. Travel along a high berm, then through a cut (avoid after heavy rains). Cross a dirt road at 5.3 miles. Past here the trail is sandy. This is as far as I traveled

Ashuelot Rail Trail:

Starting from Ashuelot River Park; Head South along the Roundhouse T Connector by crossing West St via the cross-lights and travel on-road (sidewalk available) along Island St passing by the Downtown Cheshire Trail on your right at 0.1 miles. Continue south along Island St (wide sidewalk) another 0.1 miles to a crosswalk. Head left across Island St where you'll pick up a paved trail heading East. This leads to an on-road section along Emerald St (wide sidewalk/low traffic). Come to a brick lined crosswalk after 0.4 miles. This takes you across Emerald St to the start of the paved Ashuelot Rail Trail

Map Board & BIKE STATION. The paved Ashuelot Rail Trail [Re-zeroing Mileage] travels South along an urban corridor. Cross Winchester St, where there is some type of old RR pole on your right. At 0.4 miles cross an old RR bridge over the Ashuelot River before coming to an intersecting trail. 

Note; Left takes you past the Joyce Athletic Fields and into Keene State College. Right leads to a campus parking lot.

The trail now heads out of town along a hard packed dirt surface (as of Aug 2023) bringing you to Route 101 at 0.6 miles. The pedestrian South Bridge takes you over busy Route 101. Here the trail is stone-dust trail and continues south along a berm with the Keene State College sports fields to your left and open fields right. Cross an access road for the Keene State College sports fields on your left and a small parking lot on Krif Road on your right at 1.1 miles. You cross into Swanzey and cross a RR bridge over Ash Swamp Brook at 1.5 miles. You now follow transmission lines left and woods right before passing underneath the transmission lines and heading into the woods. After 2.4 miles you cross Matthews Rd three times before coming to Sawyers Crossing Rd at 3 miles. 

Note; Heading right will quickly bring you to the Sawyers Crossing Covered Bridge over the Ashuelot River.

The stone-dust continues as you cross an old RR bridge over the river at 3.3 miles as you cross into West Swanzey. You briefly travel above the Ashuelot River on your right along a high berm. 

Note; At 3.9 miles you'll pass by a partial trail washout (from earlier heavy rains) as of August 2023. 

Travel underneath some power lines and pass by a green gate on your left.

Note; You'll need to detour out this gate to Eaton Rd to bypass a major trail washout ahead at 4.7 miles. As of August 2023, a big gap in the trail from the washout leaves no way to continue south. 

This is as far as I traveled. Come to Pine St at 4.8 miles where the hard packed dirt, grass and gravel trail travels alongside it. Cross Railroad St where the trail follows the power lines. 

Note; From Railroad St if you bear right (south) along Railroad St up to Main St and head right it will bring you to the red 1832 Denman Thompson Covered Bridge after 0.4 miles.

You'll travel through an open area then underneath Christian Hill Rd and across Homestead Ave at 5.5 miles. Travel through woodland and past fields before crossing Homestead Ave again at 6.9 miles. You then cross into Winchester. Use Caution crossing busy Route 10 at 8.2 miles. The trail roughly parallels Route 10 for a bit then crosses another old RR bridge over the river at 10 miles. Come to Old Spofford Rd at 12.2 miles and head left to pick up the trail again across Old Westport Rd. Cross Elm St, Ashuelot St then Route 119 at 13.8 miles. Use Caution crossing busy Route 119. Here the trail turns West. After another old RR trestle bridge over the river you'll cross Back Ashuelot Rd at 14.5 miles. At 15.4 miles you'll pass by the old Ashuelot RR Station before crossing Back Ashuelot Rd again.

Note; To your right is the Ashuelot Covered Bridge.

The trail continues slowly rising above the river. I checked this part of the trail and it had a nice gravel base with a long drop-off to the river below as you cross into Hinsdale before crossing Depot St at 18.8 miles. Here you'll find the old Hinsdale RR Station along with an old rail car on old RR tracks. This as as far as I traveled. The hard packed dirt & gravel trail heads back into the woods along the ridge, turning South, before skirting alongside Northfield Rd at 20.1 miles. At 21.2 miles an opening in the trail to your right leads to the Northfield Road parking lot across the road.

Note; Across Northfield Rd is the start of the Fort Hill Branch Rail Trail .

Keene Industrial Heritage Trail:

Starting from Ashuelot River Park; Head South along the Roundhouse T Connector by crossing West St via the cross-lights and travel on-road ( sidewalk available) along Island St passing by the Downtown Cheshire Trail on your right at 0.1 miles. Continue south along Island St (wide sidewalk) another 0.1 miles to a crosswalk. Head left across Island St where you'll pick up a paved trail heading East. This leads to an on-road section along Emerald St (wide sidewalk/low traffic). Pass by a brick lined crosswalk after 0.4 miles, which leads to the start of the Ashuelot Rail Trail. Continue east to School St and head left on-road (sidewalk). This brings you to Gilbo Ave after 0.6 miles and the start of the Keene Industrial Heritage Trail on your right.

The wide, paved Keene Industrial Heritage Trail [Re-zeroing Mileage] travels East alongside Gilbo Ave before passing a skate park and the old RR station (now housing a cafe) and coming to Main St in downtown Keene after 0.3 miles. Cafe's, shops & restaurants line this sheik downtown. Follow the cross-walk over Main St to a brick lined path and continue straight to the paved path. Here, you'll encounter your first of several informational plaques that line the trail. The trail parallels Railroad St, across which is the brick 1897 CA JONES building before traveling through a courtyard. You cross Community Way where the trail then travels past a sports court and across Water St. Here you'll follow an industrial corridor, crossing over Beaver Brook via an old RR bridge at 0.8 miles. You then head out along woods and scrub and up to the Eastern Avenue parking lot at 1.4 miles where the trail ends. A gap, as of 2023, exists from here to Route 101 and the Cheshire Rail Trail; South

Note; The Transportation Heritage Trail Project will extend the rail trail from Eastern Avenue to the Swanzey town line, adding 2 new bridges along the 1.1 mile route. Phase 1, from Eastern Avenue to Route 101, expected to begin in 2024.

Note; To reach the next section requires an on-road detour of 0.9 miles. Turn right and travel on-road along Eastern Ave to Marlboro St. Head left to the end of Marlboro St continuing past the gate. This narrow path brings you down to Route 101. Use Caution crossing busy Route 101 and turn left, on-road. Come to a large white sign "Cheshire RR stone arch bridge" where the Cheshire Rail Trail South begins.

Cheshire Rail Trail; South:

Note; The Transportation Heritage Trail Project will extend the rail trail from Eastern Avenue to the Swanzey town line, adding 2 new bridges along the 1.1 mile route. Phase 1, from Eastern Avenue to Route 101, expected to begin in 2024.

Limited Parking is available along Route 101. A gravel trail leads up to the rail bed where the Cheshire Rail Trail; South picks up. I haven't checked out this section. The wide gravel trail quickly crosses over the Stone Arch Bridge, past which, consists of hard packed dirt and gravel. Cross Swanzey Factory Rd (future bridge) and Joslin Station Rd before you cross into Swanzey. At a mile, the trail roughly parallels Route 12. After 2 miles you head into deep woods. After 3.5 miles you cross into Marlborough. After 5.6 miles you'll come alongside Route 12, before the trail crosses into Troy. At 6.2 you cross the first of two bridges over the South Branch Ashuelot River. Cross Marlborough Rd at 6.8 miles before traveling below grade and underneath Route 12 and High St in Troy and coming to the old Troy B&M RR Depot at Water St 7.9 miles. The trail then heads out of town where you cross a high berm over Nester Brook at 8.6 miles and back into deep woods. Next, cross a power line as you cross into Fitzwilliam at 9.6 miles. Cross Rockwood Pond Rd at 9.9 miles and travel alongside Rockwood Pond, then across a causeway between the pond. Cross Rhododendron Rd at 11.2 and Route 119 at 12.3 miles. A couple more road crossings before you enter Fitzwilliam and cross East Lake Rd at 13.2 miles where you'll pass by the Fitzwilliam RR Depot. Leave the town behind, passing by a small pond and crossing a couple more roads before you travel alongside a large marsh at 14.1 miles. At 14.8 miles you'll travel above Scott Brook before crossing Templeton Turnpike (dirt road). You cross Templeton Turnpike twice more and at 15.8 miles the trail should now be stone-dust. Cross a bridge over Sip Pond Brook before coming to Old Turnpike Rd at miles. Past here the trail reverts to hard packed dirt and gravel. A long causeway leads through a marsh for Sip Pond Brook before you cross a bridge over Tarbell Brook and come to State Line Circle parking area after 18.5 miles, just off Route 12. Past here the old rail line disappears. You are just north of the Massachusetts border. 

HH 

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