Last Updated:       June 16, 2017

Length:                 Lawrence Canalwalk/Merrimack River Trail Combined Loop; 5.8 mile Loop

Difficulty:             Easy. Flat paved, stone-dust trail. 


To Start from the Lawrence Heritage SP Visitor Center; From I-495 take exit 44 to Merrimack St and travel right. Turn right on S Union St and cross over the Merrimack River. Turn left on Canal St, then right on Mill St. The parking lot is on the left.

To start from Lawrence Riverfront State Park; From I-495 take exit 44 to Merrimack St and travel right. Turn left on S Broadway St then right on Shattuck St. Take another right on Rowe St and you'll come to the Park straight ahead.

The Lawrence Heritage State Park opened to the public in 1986. Starting with the Visitor Center in an original mill worker boardinghouse, the Park has grown to include Visitor Center Park, the Northern Canalwalk, Pemberton Park Riverwalk, Riverfront State Park and the Bashara Boathouse. The Merrimack River Trail; Pemberton Park Riverwalk and Merrimack River Trail; Riverfront State Park are also part of the regional Merrimack River Trail , a planned Greenway along the Merrimack River through Massachusetts. I've mapped out a route that begins from the Visitor Center, follows the Northern Canalwalk, crosses the Merrimack River, loops through Lawrence Riverfront SP, returns via the Pemberton Park Riverwalk and loops back along the Northern Canalwalk to the Visitor Center. You may also access the Spicket River Greenway from the Northern Canalwalk. For more information visit; LAWRENCE HERITAGE SP .

Starting from the Lawrence Heritage SP Visitor Center; After checking out the Visitor Center head out to Canal St and turn right. The Northern Canalwalk travels alongside the North Canal utilizing sidewalk and bricked paths. You may also ride on-road (low volume street). Informational sign boards are located along the canal. Brick mill buildings line the opposite side of the canal. Use the cross-light when you reach Amesbury St and continue along the canal. Come to the junction of Broadway, Canal St & Water St.

Note; Future plans call for constructing a trail north from here along the old Manchester & Lawrence RR bed that crosses Water St straight ahead. The proposed  Lawrence Rail Trail would then connect to the existing Methuen Rail Trail, in Methuen, Ma. Both of these trails utilize the rail bed of the old Manchester & Lawrence RR which continues into NH through the towns of Salem, Windham, Derry, Londonderry and South Manchester. Trails have been constructed along this rail bed in all of these towns, however, as of June 2017 gaps still exist. See;  Manchester & Lawrence Rail Trail for more information.

Turn left along Broadway and cross over the North Canal. Check out the old RR Bridges crossing both sides of the canal.

Continue across the Merrimack River alongside another old RR trestle from the former Manchester and Lawrence Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. This is where the river is dammed and diverted into the Northern & Southern Canals. Next you'll cross over the Southern Canal before reaching Broadway & Merrimack Streets at 0.9 miles.

Note; Future plans call for constructing a 1.3 mile Riverwalk along the southern bank of the Merrimack River along your left. See; LAWRENCE RIVERWALK & MAP .

To check out Lawrence Riverfront SP; Continue along Broadway St and turn right on Shattuck St. This is on-road with a sidewalk available. Turn right along Rowe St after the sharp curve and follow to Lawrence Riverfront SP at 1.3 miles. Continue straight into the park past the playground to your left and turn right along the paved trail. This will take you southwest alongside the river. Well shaded. Pass by an intersection at 1.6 miles and continue straight. This will bring you to the Bashara Boathouse. Return back along the trail to the intersection and head right up a slight hill through the Park. Side trails along your left lead to overlooks. Travel past the tennis courts and playground and exit the Park at 2.3 miles. Retrace your route to Broadway & Merrimack Streets, then back over the Southern Canal and Merrimack River. Before crossing the North Canal turn right between two brick buildings down N Canal St. This will bring you to the Pemberton Park Riverwalk. Follow the paved trail right where it brings you down along the Merrimack River. The trail now heads northeast along the northern bank of the river alongside the Park before encountering the Casey Bridge (Amesbury St) and turning left. Travel up past the parking lot and out the Park entrance to Amesbury St at 3.5 miles. Head left back to Canal St and turn right back along the Northern Canalwalk. Pass by the Visitor Center at 3.7 miles and continue alongside the canal. Travel past a restored RR bridge over the canal before you reach a short iron arched bridge over the canal at 4.1 miles. 

Note; You can access the Spicket River Greenway by crossing over Canal St and heading right. You'll pick up the paved trail along your left after 0.1 miles.

Note; If you continue straight along Canal St it will bring you to a small Park overlooking the Spicket River and North Canal after 0.2 miles. (Added 0.4 miles to round trip)

Cross the short iron arched bridge to Island St and head left on a sidewalk alongside the North Canal. Transition to stone-dust as you enter North Canal Reservoir Park.  Here you’ll find an overlook of a dam where the North Canal drains into the Spicket River. Pavilion located here. Follow the trail above the Spicket River to a split.

Note; Left takes you down to the Merrimack River and ends.

Bear right as the trail now travels west above the Merrimack River. This brings you to Union Crossing Playground where the stone-dust trail ends. Head right through the parking lot back out to Island St, then left back to iron arched bridge after a 0.4 mile Loop.

Head left along Island St and the North Canal. You'll come to Bell Tower Square at Union St where the trail continues a short distance as dirt/grass bringing you to a refurbished RR Bridge. Cross back over the canal via this bridge to Canal St and head left to return to the Visitor Center for a 5.8 mile round trip