SOUTH MANCHESTER RAIL TRAIL:
MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: July 01, 2023
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; 1 mile 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/sidewalk.
Rockingham Trail; Easy. Flat, stone-dust rail trail.
Rockingham Recreational Trail; Easy for 1st mile. Hard packed dirt & gravel. Unknown the rest of the way.
To check out the Piscataquog [Eastern End] & Heritage/Riverfront Trails in Manchester [Central Section]; 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.
To check out the Heritage Trail in Bedford [Southern End]; From the junction of I-293/Route 101 take the exit for Route 3 south. Take a left onto Moores Crossing Road (you'll see a brown sign) and follow to a parking area at its end.
To check out the South Manchester Rail Trail in South Manchester; 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 in Manchester-Auburn [Eastern End]; Take exit 1 off of Route 101 to Route 28B (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 is also part of the regional Manchester & Lawrence 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) is proposed, but has not been developed. All these trails follow the railroad bed of the former Manchester and Lawrence Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. .
Piscataquog Trail/Heritage Trail:
Starting from the Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge; The Piscataquog & Heritage Trails intersect here along the Eastern Side of the Merrimack River in Manchester.
Starting from the Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge in Manchester [Central Section]; 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 Heritage Trail travels high above the river and takes you past the Bank of NH Delta Dental Stadium, home of the NH Fisher Cats to Line Dr and the Stark Landing boat launch at 0.2 miles. Travel right out Line Drive and pick up a paved path out to S Commercial St.
Note; A paved path travels right (South) alongside S Commercial St and next to some RR tracks. When you pass by a parking lot on your left, spot an old brick Manchester B&M Switch Tower across the RR tracks. This is where the old RR line for the South Manchester Rail Trail intersected the existing tracks. The path continues past the stadium, ending after 0.3 miles.
Heading left (North) the paved path travels alongside S Commercial St out to and across Granite St at 0.6 miles. Travel on-road along Commercial St (Caution no shoulder/narrow sidewalk). Turn left down Waumbec St and you'll come to the brick lined Riverwalk Trail after 1 mile. 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 after 1.3 miles.
Heading South; The wide, paved Heritage 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. Kiosk here. 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.
Starting from the Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge in Manchester [Eastern End]; You 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 to the Goffstown town line at 2 miles where the trail continues along the Goffstown Rail Trail .
Heritage Trail-Bedford Section:
Starting from the Moores Crossing Road parking lot in Bedford [Southern End]; Porto-Potty and 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 Heritage Trail-Bedford Section 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 0.5 miles. 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.
South Manchester Rail Trail;
Currently a gap, as of 2023, exists between the Northern End of the Londonderry Rail Trail on Harvey Road & the Southern End of the South Manchester Rail Trail at Gold Street.
Starting from Gold Street in South Manchester [Southern End] [No parking located here];
Note; A 1 mile section South to Perimeter Rd is scheduled for construction in 2023. The old Cohas Brook Train Trestle will be rehabbed and a tunnel under Goffs Falls Rd has already been completed.
The paved South Manchester Rail Trail travels North along a partially shaded corridor along the old rail bed of the Boston & Maine Railroad. Look left to spot some old railroad tracks paralleling the trail before you pass by Nutt Pond, with a couple of benches overlooking the pond. Pass by a spur trail to Precourt Park before coming to an intersection at 0.5 miles.
Note; Right a spur trail takes you to Precourt Park. Left takes you out to Mystic St.
Several more spurs along the left side of the trail connect to local streets. You'll pass by a spur for the Manchester Commons parking lot on your right before coming to a cross-walk over S Beech St at 1 mile.
Note; Look left to spot the old rail bed which has not yet been developed as of 2023. It heads north to Queen City Ave where it used to cross the road. Future plans call for connecting to to a future extension of the Rockingham Rail Trail coming from the east. The old rail bed crosses Queen City Ave and continues north where it crossed or traveled underneath Elm St and connected into the active RR tracks.
You can continue North along S Beech St utilizing a combination of paved trail & sidewalk. Narrow in spots. Come to S Willow St at 1.2 miles.
Rockingham Trail; Manchester-Auburn Section:
Starting from Front Park in Auburn [Eastern End]; 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 28B so USE CAUTION.
Heading East from Route 28B; The trail is called the Rockingham Recreational Trail and travels East from Auburn 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 0.75 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 past here.
Heading West from Route 28B; The stone-dust Rockingham Trail is flat as it follows the old rail bed West into Manchester past some ball fields on your left. After 0.25 miles you travel over a causeway between a marsh with the lake in the distance. You re-enter the woods at 0.5 miles 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. Yon soon travel through a marsh before crossing an access road and passing through a tunnel underneath I-93 at 1.8 miles. Another access road crossing and you travel along a wooded corridor surrounded by residential, industrial and commercial areas. Cross Page St. Come to Mammoth Rd, next to CVS and find a cross-light. The rail bed continues alongside Rite Aid where 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.
CLICK HERE FOR MANCHESTER TRAILS MAP
CLICK HERE FOR MANCHESTER TRAILS MAP
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT