MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: April 14, 2012
Length: Recreation Trail; 4.2 miles.
Difficulty: Easy. Partially developed, flat, hard packed dirt & cinder rail trail.
To start from Maple Street; From the junction of Routes 181 & 202 in Belchertown travel west on Route 202. You'll pass the Piper Farm parking lot on your left (you may also park here, however it's a bit downhill to reach the trail from here) and come to Maple St on your right just before the bridge over the RR tracks. Follow Maple St down to a dirt road next to the active RR tracks. The rail trail travels through here. Park at the Piper Farm parking lot if you don't feel comfortable parking here.
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 split into two after the1938 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 Branch, Mass Central Rail Trail: Belchertown , Mass Central Rail Trail; Ware-Hardwick- New Braintree , Mass Central Rail Trail; Barre-Sterling , Mass Central Rail Trail; Wayland-Weston & Mass Central Rail Trail; Boston-Cambridge . Locally, some sections of the trail are known by another name. For example along the Mass Central Rail Trail; Boston-Cambridge section in Cambridge the trail is referred to as the Fitchburg Cutoff, while in Somerville it is referred to as the Somerville Community Path. For more information check out; MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL & EAST COAST GREENWAY .
The Mass Central Rail Trail also connects to other trails. In Northampton 3 trails converge at the "Spoke". The Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck Branch , Mass Central Rail Trail; Williamsburg Branch which travels northwest towards Williamsburg and the Manhan/New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail North travels south to New Haven, CT. In Cambridge another "Spoke" of trails all radiate out from Alewife T Station; The Minuteman Bikeway which travels northwest to Bedford, Alewife Brook Greenway which travels east to the Mystic River and Fresh Pond Loop Trail which travels south to Fresh Pond.
Also located in Belchertown is the Chickadee Trail .
From the end of Maple Street; Straight ahead will be the active RR tracks and to your left an old drive-on scale.
Note; To your right you'll see an opening in the brush and a trail marker where the trail travels north another 0.4 miles to Jackson St. Hopefully in the future they will connect into the Mass Central Rail Trail; Norwottuck East just north of here in Amherst.
Heading south the hard packed dirt & cinder Mass Central Rail Trail follows alongside the active RR tracks underneath Route 202. This will bring you to a RR crossing. Bear left to a dirt road and follow it south paralleling the RR tracks. Orange arrows are posted along the trail for guidance. Cross Old Springfield Rd after 0.6 miles where you'll see a sign that says "3.2 miles to Route 181". Continue south through the woods along the hard packed dirt & cinder rail bed alongside the RR tracks before the trail takes you down to North Washington St. Use Caution crossing the street as there is a bridge and blind curve. I haven't checked out this next section. Head up the embankment and bear right back up along the tracks (look for arrows). The trail travels through heavy woods, pulling away from the active RR. You cross Jabish Brook before coming to Route 181 after 4.2 miles. I'm not sure if the trail continues across the road?
CLICK HERE FOR BELCHERTOWN LAND TRUST MAP
CLICK HERE FOR MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL MAP
CLICK HERE FOR OLD MASS CENTRAL RR MAP
BEFORE YOU SET OUT BE SURE TO READ THE
WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER
BIKE IT OR HIKE IT