MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL:
WARE RIVER VALLEY BRANCH
WARE-HARDWICK-NEW BRAINTREE, MASSACHUSETTS
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: May 20, 2019
Length: Hardwick-New Braintree section; 2.7 miles
Ware section; 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Hardwick-New Braintree section; Easy. Flat, hard packed dirt, grass & cinder rail trail with some stone-dust.
Ware section; Easy. Flat, hard packed gravel rail trail.
Starting from the Walmart parking lot in Ware; From the junction of Routes 32 & 9 in Ware head south on Route 32 for 2.5 miles. Turn left into the shopping plaza, then turn left again. You will come alongside a black fence on your left. When you reach a gate this is where you access the trailhead. The parking lot is located on your right.
Starting from West Road 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 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 & EAST QUABBIN LAND TRUST .
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.
From the Walmart parking lot; Pass through the black gate (trap rock) and follow a path up to the old rail bed. Here the Mass Central Rail Trail heads north through the woods along a hard packed gravel surface. I haven't checked out this section yet.
Note; The town of Ware is working towards putting down a stone-dust surface in the future.
Cross a bridge over a stream before a cross-walk over Longview/Westbrook Ave. Next a cross-walk takes you over Malboeuf Rd followed by another bridge over Flat Brook. Another cross-walk over Mountainview Dr and soon the trail ends after 1.8 miles. A dirt road on your right leads to the Robbins Road parking area.
Note; The East Quabbin Land Trust is working towards improving a 3.5 mile section between Ware & Gilbertville along the Mass Central Rail Trail. They also own a 0.5 mile section of the MCRT off Church St just west of the Ware River. They are currently (2019) applying for grants to put down stone-dust and pave a parking lot off Church St.
Hardwick-New Braintree Section:
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 Mass Central 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 Mass Central 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 via an old RR Trestle bridge at 0.7 miles and enter Hardwick. 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.
CLICK HERE FOR EAST QUABBIN LAND TRUST MAP
CLICK HERE FOR MASS CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL MAP
CLICK HERE FOR OLD MASS CENTRAL RR MAP
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WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER
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