NASHUA RIVER RAIL TRAIL:
AYER, MASSACHUSETTS-NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: August 13, 2023
Length: Nashua River Rail Trail; 12.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Paved, flat rail trail.
Starting from Ayer [Southern End]; From Route 2, take exit 109B to Route 111 north. When you come to the rotary, exit onto Route 2A west and follow 1 mile through Ayer to Park St. Turn right and take your next right on Groton St. The parking lot is on your right. The trail begins from Main St (Route 2A) in Ayer.
Starting from NH [Northern End]; From Route 3 (Everett Turnpike) in Nashua take exit 5W to Route 111 west for 2.8 miles. Turn left on Country Side Drive, which will bring you to Gilson Rd. The Southwest Park parking lot is located straight ahead.
The Nashua River Rail Trail is built along former Hollis Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad. It started life out in 1848 as the Worcester & Nashua Railroad running between the two cities. In 1874, an extension was opened up to Portland, Maine. In 1982, the last freight train ran the rails and today the only section still operating is between Worcester and Ayer. The Trail parallels the Nashua River for most of its length, however, you only ride alongside the river for a short distance as you approach Pepperell. For more information visit; NASHUA RIVER RAIL TRAIL . In NH you can access the Southwest Park Trails and Cold Brook Neighborhood Trail . Just north in Nashua are two more trails. See; Nashua Heritage Rail Trail & Mine Falls Park Trails .
Starting from Main Street in Ayer [Southern End]; There are Porto-Potty's located at the parking lot, along with a sign board. The trail heads North from Main St past the parking lot. The southern section of trail travels through mostly wooded terrain with numerous marshes along the way. Pass by an old granite RR Mile Marker P118/W29 along your right. The RR placed these Mile Markers every mile along the tracks to indicate 29 miles to Worchester and 118 miles to Portland. Before crossing Smith St at 1.8 miles you cross into Groton and you soon travel through a large marsh. Spot a beaver lodge on your left. Just past this marsh, look up to your right to spot a wind mill above the orchards. Travel through a tunnel underneath Peabody St at 2.8 miles. Pass by the Broadmeadow Road parking lot and you'll come to a sign board at Groton Center at 3.5 miles. Travel through another tunnel underneath Pleasant St before you pass an old stone abutment at 4 miles. You cross an old iron railroad bridge over Route 111 at 4.5 miles and pass by RR Mile Marker P113/W34 before crossing Common St. Pass by the Groton Sand Hill Road parking lot after 5.6 miles. Pass P112/W35. Continuing north the trail is mostly woodlands. After about 7 miles you'll travel along a large pond formed from the dammed Nashua River. You'll pass by a granite Mile Marker on your left inscribed with a G and P. The G stands for Groton, the P for Pepperell. This marks their boundary. Continue alongside the river before passing by Mile Marker P111/W36, the dam and entering the small town of East Pepperell, where you'll find the Main Street parking lot, sign board and food available. You then cross Groton Street at 8 miles and another parking lot.
Note; If you head left on-road down Groton St for 0.2 miles you'll come to a covered bridge over the river.
You lose the river again as you continue north along a more residential wooded corridor. Cross Lowell St, pass by Mile Marker P110/W37 and cross River St at 9.7 miles before crossing into Dunstable. Pass by Mile Marker P109/W38, followed by a large marsh fed by Unkety Brook before crossing River St again at 10.7 miles. Pass by Mile Marker P108/W39. You come to a fork in the trail at 11.2 miles.
Note; Right brings you to the Hollis Street parking lot .
Continuing straight takes you into New Hampshire where the trail continue north. Cross Route 111A at 11.6 miles. A small parking area is located on your left. Continue over the cross-walk and you'll travel through an open field and back into the woods. You come to the Southwest Park parking lot and the current end of the trail at 12.3 miles. A Map Board for Southwest Park is located near the parking lot entrance.
Note; You can continue your trip with a Loop around Southwest Park Trails , as well as, connecting to the Cold Brook Neighborhood Trail .
CLICK HERE FOR MAP
CLICK HERE FOR NH MAP
CLICK HERE FOR SOUTHWEST PARK TRAILS MAP
BEFORE YOU SET OUT BE SURE TO READ THE
WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER
BIKE IT OR HIKE IT