MANCHESTER TRAILS:

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:       July 21, 2016

Length:                 Heritage Trail; 0.8 miles completed in Manchester. 1.8 miles completed in Bedford.

                              Heritage/Riverwalk Trail; 0.3 miles completed.

                              Piscataquog Trail; 2 miles

                              South Manchester Rail Trail; 2.4 miles (0.8 miles completed)

                              Rockingham Trail (Manchester section); 2.7 miles

                              Rockingham Recreational Trail; 26 miles

Difficulty:            Heritage/Riverwalk Trail; Easy. Paved trail.

                              Heritage Trail (Bedford section); Moderate. Mostly flat with varying trail surfaces (stone-dust, hard packed dirt & grass).

                              Piscataquog Trail; Easy. Paved, flat rail trail.

                              South Manchester Rail Trail; Easy. Paved, flat rail trail.

                              Rockingham Trail; Moderate. Hard packed dirt, gravel & grass rail trail. Not yet fully developed.

                              Rockingham Recreational Trail; Easy for 1st mile. Hard packed dirt & gravel. Unknown the rest of the way.

Directions:

To check out the Piscataquog & Heritage/Riverfront Trails; From I-293 take exit 5 to Granite St and head west. Take your first left onto 2nd St. As you approach the old RR trestle crossing over the road turn left into the parking lot. The Piscataquog Trail runs along the old RR bed above. There are stairs leading up to the trail, however, if biking travel underneath the RR bridge and turn right up Blaine St, then right on 3rd St and you'll come to the trail. The Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge is just along the left and allows you access to the Heritage Trail. In the future you'll be able to access all the trails from this bridge.  

To check out the Heritage Trail in Bedford; From the junction of  I-293/Route 101 take the exit for Route 3 south. Take a left onto Moores Crossing Rd (you'll see a brown sign) and follow to a parking area at its end.

To check out the South Manchester Rail Trail; From I-293 take exit 1 to S Willow St (Route 28) north. Turn left when you reach Spring Garden St, then left on S Beach St. You'll immediately spot the trailhead on your left. Turn left and follow the road to a parking lot next to the trail. 

To check out the Rockingham Trail; Take exit 1 off of Route 101to Route 28 (Londonderry Turnpike) and head south. After passing through the roundabout you'll cross the trail. Turn left into the Front Park parking lot. The trail heads west into Manchester as the Rockingham Trail and east past Massabesic Lake towards Portsmouth as the Rockingham Recreational Trail. For more information visit; ROCKINGHAM RECREATIONAL TRAIL .

The Manchester Trails consist of four intersecting trails all connecting in the center of Manchester, with the hub located at the eastern end of  the Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge. Currently only the Piscataquog & Heritage Trails interconnect. The other two trails are the South Manchester Rail Trail & Rockingham Trail. All four trails are still a work in progress and it will be many years before this vision is realized. The Rockingham Trail, South Manchester Rail Trail and Piscataquog Trail follow the abandoned Boston & Maine RR corridor and the Rockingham Recreational Trail follows the Portsmouth Branch of the RR. The Heritage Trail is part of the NH HERITAGE TRAIL . This is a trail program run by the State of New Hampshire to provide a link between communities and preserve recreational and historical corridors in New Hampshire. The South Manchester Rail Trail & Heritage Trail are part of the state wide GRANITE STATE RAIL TRAIL, a proposed 120-mile trail extending from Methuen MA to Lebanon NH. For more information visit; MANCHESTER MOVES . The South Manchester Rail Trail travels along the railroad bed of the old Manchester and Lawrence Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. It's part of the regional Manchester-Lawrence Recreational Rail Trail which includes: The Londonderry Rail Trail , Derry Rail Trail , Windham Rail Trail , Salem Bike-Ped Corridor and Methuen Rail Trail (MA) to the south. The Lawrence Rail Trail (MA) has not been developed. 

Piscataquog Trail/ Heritage Trail:

Starting from the Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge; The Piscataquog & Heritage Trails intersect at the eastern end of the bridge along the banks of the Merrimack River

    The Heritage Trail; Travels north & south along the eastern side of the river. From the end of the bridge a paved path leads down to the trail. 

Heading North; The wide paved trail travels high above the river and brings you to the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the NH Fisher Cats after only 0.2 miles. The trail currently ends here near the Stark Landing boat launch and Line Drive. If you head out Line Drive and turn right along S Commercial St you'll travel along an active RR. When you come alongside the stadium, across the tracks is where the RR line for the South Manchester Rail Trail intersected the existing tracks. 

You may travel on-road 0.7 miles to connect to a completed section of the Riverwalk portion of the Heritage Trail. Head out Line Drive and turn left along S Commercial St and across Granite St to N Commercial St. Turn left down Waumbec St and you'll come to the brick lined Riverwalk Trail heading right (north) alongside the Merrimack River after 0.7 miles. Check out the old bridge piers still crossing the river and all the old brick mill buildings. Pass by a promenade of stairs that lead down to the rivers edge. An informational sign here as well. Travel under Bridge St (parking located all along this trail. Metered except on weekends) and the trail ends at 1 mile.

Heading South; The wide, paved trail travels above the river and through the woods. You come to the southern end of  S Commercial St after 0.2 miles, where the trail then utilizes the old paved road. You travel underneath the Queen City Ave bridge at 0.4 miles and pass by some industrial buildings. A chain link fence separates you from the old mills, but makes the trail narrower. The trail currently ends at the junction of Dunbar St & Sundial Ave after 0.6 miles. Total completed trail of 0.8 miles. Future plans call for the trail continuing south, traveling underneath I-293 and crossing over the Merrimack River to Bedford, where a 1.8 mile section of the trail has been completed.

    The Heritage Trail-Bedford Section; From the parking lot (Porto-potty available) go to the map board.

Note; Heading South; Across the road the trail quickly ends behind a business next to some RR tracks.

Heading North; The narrow stone-dust trail passes by some picnic tables and travels along a transmission line. Soon you'll come to a high overlook of the Merrimack River as well as an informational sign and picnic tables. You have a good view of a RR trestle crossing the river. After crossing a small bridge the trail consists of hard packed dirt & grass as it parallels the river. Keep left when the trail splits and head up a small embankment. You'll cross a iron arched bridge over a brook where the trail widens at a 1/2 mile. The trail splits again near some condos, bear left and follow the grassy trail over a second iron bridge. You come to a pump house at 0.9 miles. Travel left up the paved access road and then turn right following a dirt road underneath I-293 to a large dirt parking lot at 1.1 miles. Continue straight through the parking lot to a wide grass & dirt trail through the woods. This mostly flat trail travels along the river and then narrows as it comes to an end at 1.8 miles. If you follow the sandy trails to your right you'll be rewarded with a sandy beach alongside the river. Very scenic.  

    The Piscataquog Trail; Travels northwest from the river and connects to the Goffstown Rail Trail. From the eastern end of the bridge you'll travel west across the Merrimack River on the wood decked, refurbished RR trestle bridge. Great views. After crossing the river you travel over I-293 and come to a set of stairs leading down to the 2nd Street parking lot. You then cross over 2nd St via an old RR bridge and cross 3rd St at grade (here you can bike down to the parking lot). The paved trail is wide and travels through an urban/residential area. A cross-walk takes you over busy S Main St at 0.4  miles. You then travel through a below grade cut and through a couple of tunnels underneath Parker St and Granite St. The trail becomes more wooded as you travel above the Piscataquog River on your left along a berm at 0.7 miles. You come to a parking lot on your right off Douglas Street at 1.3 miles, then some athletic fields along both sides of the trail. Come to Electric Ave at 1.7 miles, just below the Nazaire Biron Bridge (Pinard St/Kelley St). 

Note; A spur trail left leads down to the West Side Arena and a spur trail right takes you up to Kelley St. 

Continue straight across the Piscataquog River via an arched iron bridge. Dam to your left. Then travel along a high berm where the paved trail ends. A hard packed dirt trail continues a short distance to the Goffstown town line at 2 miles where the trail continues along the Goffstown Rail Trail .

South Manchester Rail Trail;  

The trail starts off a spur of South Beach Street. 

Heading north; The trail is currently undeveloped. The old rail bed ends at the intersection of an active RR line, just east of the Merchants Auto.com Stadium

Heading south; The spur  passes by a parking lot before coming to the trail along the old rail bed. The trail follows the old rail bed of the Boston & Maine Railroad. Here the paved trail is wide and shaded. Several spurs along the right side of the trail connect to local streets and at 0.3 miles you'll come to a spur trail on the left.

Note; This spur trail takes you to Precourt Park, then loops back to the main trail.

Continuing along the trail you'll pass by the southern entrance of the spur trail to Precourt Park. This brings you alongside Nutt Pond, with a couple of benches overlooking the pond. Just past the pond, look along your right and you'll spot some old railroad tracks paralleling the trail. The trail currently ends at Gold St after 0.8 miles. It continues across the road as a dirt path, traveling underneath I-293 and heading towards the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Rockingham Trail:

Starting from Front Park; Picnic tables overlook Massabesic Lake and a path to your left leads to the trail from the parking lot. Porto-potty's located here as well. 

Note; There is no crosswalk over Route 28 so USE CAUTION.

Heading East from Route 28; The trail is called the Rockingham Recreational Trail and travels towards Portsmouth. The stone-dust trail is wide as it follows the old RR bed through the woods with Massabesic Lake along your right. You cross a boat-launch at 0.4 miles as the trail becomes hard packed dirt & gravel. After 3/4 miles you cross Candia/Manchester Rd and lose sight of the lake. Pass by an old RR Whistle marker on your left at 1 mile. You then travel along a causeway between a scenic marsh at 1.2 miles. After crossing the marsh, look down to your left to spot an old RR mileage marker reading M6/P34 (Manchester 6 miles/Portsmouth 34 miles). The trail here gets rougher with courser gravel. This is as far as I traveled, so I'm not sure of the trail conditions.   

Heading West from Route 28; The hard packed gravel trail is flat as it follows the old rail bed past some ball fields on your left. After a 1/4 mile you travel over a causeway between a marsh with the lake in the distance. You re-enter the woods at a 1/2 mile and travel along a berm before crossing Lake Shore Dr. The trail becomes rougher as the gravel is courser. The trail is paved briefly as it travels through a tunnel underneath Peabody Ave at 0.8 miles. You come to the junction of Proctor & Candia roads at 1.3 miles. Continue straight across Proctor Rd, then right over Candia Rd via a cross-walk to rejoin the trail. This section is hard packed dirt & grass and soon travels through a marsh before crossing an access road (USE CAUTION) and passing through a tunnel underneath I-93 at 1.8 miles. Another access road crossing (USE CAUTION) before you come to a bad section of dirt trail which is all rutted. The rest of this trail travels along a wooded corridor surrounded by residential, industrial and commercial areas. A short driveway bypasses the rail bed and takes you past an old brick factory before you cross Page St and rejoin the trail. The next section consists partly of a recycled asphalt base and cinder. Come to Mammoth Rd, next to CVS where there is no cross-walk, so use caution. The rail bed continues alongside Rite Aid and a narrow dirt trail will bring you to Tarrytown Rd at 2.7 miles. The rail bed gets swallowed up here by a parking lot for Elliot Hospital. I stopped here, as the section through Manchester to connect to the other 3 trails is still in the design phase. Future plans call for paving this trail.      

HH 

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