MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL:

NEW BRAINTREE-HARDWICK, MASSACHUSETTS

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:      October 31, 2015

Length:                New Braintree-Hardwick section; 2.7 miles

Difficulty:            Easy. Flat, hard packed dirt, grass & cinder rail trail with some stone-dust.

Directions:

Starting from West Rd parking lot in New Braintree; From the junction of Routes 32A &32 in Gilbertville head north on Route 32. Turn right on Hardwick Rd (across from Barre Rd as I saw no street sign)  just before the town of Wheelwright. Take your next right on West Rd. The trailhead is on your right. You can park to your left in front of the Historical marker. 

The Mass Central Rail Trail is a planned 104 mile trail from Northampton Massachusetts to Boston. It will follow the old Central Mass Branch of the Boston & Maine RR that ran between the two cities. The railroad was abandoned in 1938 after the 38 hurricane shattered the line. The trail today exists in many unconnected sections and with differing surfaces. Starting from Northampton heading east the sections that are complete include the Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck East, Mass Central Rail Trail: Belchertown , Mass Central Rail Trail; New Braintree-Hardwick , Mass Central Rail Trail; Barre-Rutland , Mass Central Rail Trail; Holden-West Boylston & Mass Central Rail Trail; Sterling in the towns of Belchertown, Braintree, Hardwick, Barre, Oakham, Rutland, Holden, West Boylston and Sterling. Outside of Boston, the towns of Wayland & Weston are currently converting their sections of rail bed in 2018. In Cambridge the last section of the Mass Central Rail Trail has been completed and is referred to as the Fitchburg Cutoff . It connects to another Spoke of trails that all radiate out from Alewife T Station: See; Minuteman Bikeway , Alewife Brook Greenway , Fresh Pond Loop Trail and the Somerville Community Path .

For more information check out; EAST QUABBIN LAND TRUST , MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL , WACHUSETT GREENWAY or EAST COAST GREENWAY . You can also visit two other nearby rail trails. The Ware River Rail Trail in Oakham/Coldbrook Springs is an undeveloped, but cleared rail trail of hard packed dirt & gravel accessed off of Route 122 via Old Worchester Rd. The Chickadee Trail in Belchertown runs along the old Boston & Albany RR-Athol Branch rail bed. This is also an undeveloped trail consisting of hard packed dirt & cinder. 

From the West Road parking area; The site of the old  New Braintree Train Station was just across West Rd. A large stone historical marker has been erected next to the road along with a trail kiosk. 

Heading Northwest; Cross Hardwick Rd. The rail trail starts out with a stone-dust surface as it follows a berm past a marsh and enters the woods. Cross an old RR trestle bridge over the Ware River at 0.4 miles. Picnic table located here. The trail then reverts to hard packed dirt, grass and cinder. It currently ends at Maple St after 0.9 miles.  

Heading Southeast; Cross West Rd. The rail trail starts out with a stone-dust surface as you travel through a Pine tree forest. After traveling along a short berm you cross the Ware River on an old RR Trestle bridge at 0.7 miles. Picnic table located here. The trail surface turns to hard packed dirt & cinder. You cross over a second bridge and travel within view of an active RR line to your right. After crossing over a third bridge at 1.3 miles you'll pass by an old RR rail holder and RR Mileage marker reading N36/B68 (Northampton 36 miles/Boston 68 miles) as you enter a cut. The trail then ends after 1.8 miles at Creamery Rd in Hardwick.  

Note; The town of Ware is working towards improving two sections of the Mass Central Rail Trail that travel through town. A 1.7 mile section from Gibbs Crossing (Lowes/Wal-Mart) heading north and a 3.5 mile section between Ware & Gilbertville. They are currently focusing on the Gibbs Crossing section.

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CLICK HERE FOR MAP

CLICK HERE FOR MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL MAP

CLICK HERE FOR OLD RR MAP

 

BEFORE YOU SET OUT BE SURE TO READ THE

WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER

 

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