SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND TRUNKLINE TRAIL:
FRANKLIN & BELLINGHAM RAIL TRAIL;
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: October 17, 2016
Length: SNETT; 22 miles
Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail [Southern End]; 4 miles
Blackstone River Bikeway [Central Section]; 3.7 miles
SNETT [Northern End]; 10.6 miles
Difficulty: Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail [Southern End]; Easy to Moderate. Partially developed rail trail. Stone-dust/hard packed dirt and gravel.
Blackstone River Bikeway [Central Section]; Easy. Flat paved rail trail.
SNETT [Northern End]; Moderate. Flat partially developed rail trail. Hard packed gravel with some soft sand and cinder. Mt bike recommended.
To Start from the Grove Street parking lot in Franklin [Southern End]; From I-495 take exit 43 to Route 140 west. Take your first left on Grove St and travel south about 2 miles. Parking lot is on your left across from the trailhead.
To Start from the Depot Street parking lot [Northern End]; From Route 146 take exit 6 to Route 16 west. Travel 3.5 miles and turn left onto Depot St. Just before the end of the road (where trail crosses) will be the parking lot on your right.
To Start from the East Thompson Road parking area in CT [Northern End access from Airline Trail]; From I-395 take exit 53 to Wilsonville Rd and head east to Route 193. Travel south (right) to the first road on your left (Porter Plain Rd) and follow to Sand Dam Rd. Head right past the Sand Dam parking area to E Thompson RD and head left. Follow to the intersection with New Rd and spot the Airline SP Trail sign and map board on your left. Gravel parking area.
The 22 mile Southern New England Trunkline Trail connects the Douglas State Forest to the Franklin State Forest, linking the towns of Douglas, Uxbridge, Millville, Blackstone, Bellingham and Franklin. Despite its name, the trail does not follow any part of the Southern New England Railway, a railroad intended to run from Palmer, MA to Providence, RI whose right-of-way was partially constructed but never completed. Rather, this railroad was built as the Norfolk County Railroad, east of the Blackstone Station, and the Southbridge & Blackstone Railroad west of the station to the Connecticut state line. Later, the route became part of the New York and New England Railroad, which was absorbed by the New Haven Railroad. It is built upon a segment of the former right-of-way of the New Haven Railroad's Midland Division, which operated between Boston and Putnam, CT. Across the border in Connecticut, the trail joins the Airline State Park Trail North . The Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail is the southern section of the SNETT that has been partially developed in the towns of Franklin & Bellingham. The central section of the SNETT in the towns of Blackstone & Millville has been developed as part of the Blackstone River Bikeway; MA . The northern section of the SNETT is partially developed from the Ct border where it meets the Airline State Park Trail south through Douglas to Uxbridge. For more information visit; SNETT or FRANKLIN & BELLINGHAM RAIL TRAIL .
Franklin & Bellingham Rail Trail [Southern End]:
Starting from Grove Street parking lot in Franklin; Exit the parking lot and cross Grove St to reach the trailhead where you'll find a Map board. Mileage markers are located every 0.5 miles along the trail. Tree species signs have been posted along the trail. The hard packed dirt and gravel trail heads into the woods. After crossing Spring St (Map board) you'll pass through a rock cut at 0.7 miles. Some drainage issues. After 1.1 miles you'll need to bear left off the rail trail to travel up and across Prospect St.
Note; A new tunnel has been completed taking the trail underneath Prospect St in Nov 2020. I haven't checked it out yet. Not sure if the next section has been upgraded?
Warning! This section of trail is poorly drained and turns into a swamp after heavy rains. It contains trap rock and is barely cleared. ATV use. Cross over into South Bellingham before reaching Lake Street after 1.9 miles. Small parking area here. Cross Lake St where a short paved trail brings you up along a high berm with a wide stone-dust surface. A crosswalk over Center Street brings you to a parking lot a 2.8 miles. Map board located here. Turn left, then right down Fox Run Rd for a short on-road section (residential) before picking up the trail straight ahead as the road turns right at 3 miles. This was as far as I traveled. The trail continues undeveloped to a new tunnel underneath S Main St (Route 126) at 4 miles. The trail continues undeveloped to the Blackstone town line.
Blackstone River Bikeway [Central Section]:
SEE; Blackstone River Bikeway; MA .
SNETT [Northern End]:
Starting from the East Thompson Road parking area in CT; Map board located here for the Airline SP Trail. From the map board head northeast across E Thompson Rd (Caution no crosswalk), up the gravel embankment and past the yellow gate along the hard packed dirt and gravel Airline SP Trail. After 0.2 miles you travel underneath an old wooden bridge (thought to have transported cattle over the RR).
Note; Also nearby is the Hermit Cave. See; HERMIT CAVE for more information.
Continuing along the rail trail a high berm takes you across Rocky Brook. Just before the MA border you'll pass by the Tri-State Marker Trail on your right.
Note; A 0.3 mile rocky hiking trail take you to a granite marker where CT/MA/RI all meet. Just off the rail trail you'll find a separate granite marker where CT & MA meet.
Come to a brown gate after 0.6 miles where the trail crosses into MA along the Southern New England Trunkline Trail.
[Re-zeroing Mileage] The SNETT has a less developed base of gravel, some soft sand and cinder. Cross a small wooden bridge at 0.6 miles where you'll spot a sign for the Douglas State Forest. The trail now follows a causeway through the Rocky Brook Marsh. This is as far as I traveled. Cross Wallum Lake Rd at 2.5 miles and another causeway past Morse Pond at 3.2 miles. Cross South St at 4 miles, SE Main St at 4.4 miles and Yew St at 4.8 miles. After crossing Franklin St at 5.5 miles the trail begins to turn towards the southeast crossing Depot St at 5.9 miles. Left is the Depot Street parking lot. Cross Martin Rd at 6.1 miles, Monroe St at 6.7 miles and West St at 8.1 miles. Cross Chocolog Rd at 9.9 miles. At some point I believe the trail narrows as you come to Route 98 after 10.6 miles. Past here the trail dead ends at Route 146.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT