Sunday, April 27, 2008

Biking the Nashua River Rail Trail

We haven't taken out our bikes yet, but when we do, you can be sure we'll be returning to the Nashua River Rail Trail. This beautiful 12.5 mile trail is used by walkers, bicyclists, in-line skaters, and in the winter, cross-country skiers. It's definitely busy on weekends!

The trail leads from Hollis, NH through the towns of Dunstable, Pepperell, Groton, and Ayer, Massachusetts. It offers flat, scenic New England landscape with many opportunities to see wildlife, including beavers, herons, and ospreys. As you ride, you'll enjoy some vistas of the Nashua River and will be winding your way through several town centers, farmland, and conservation lands.

In addition to birds and other critters, you'll see railway artifacts from what was known as the Hollis Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. Those granite markers with numbers were once used to indicate the mileage to Worcester, MA.

At approximately 8.5 miles, there are granite seats and a nice spot to enjoy views of Groton School Pond and an apple orchard. You can enjoy an ice cream in Pepperell town center (is there a recurring theme here?!) and I'm told there's a great bagel shop in Groton, though I don't have the name. Don't be put off by the fact that you'll be sharing this trail with a number of other nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts. In our view, it's well worth it!

Note: Photo of Nashua River Rail Trail and the Groton School Pond in Groton, MA (above) taken by Michael White on June 14, 2006. Used with permission.

What You Need to Know Before You Go: This is a busy trail. Keep to the right, single file and give a voice warning if you plan to pass someone. Children 16 and younger are required to wear bike helmets. In addition to a 10-foot wide paved path, there's a 5-foot wide equestrian path. It's common sense, but always yield to horses.

Directions and Parking: From Nashua, take Route 111 to a left turn on Route 111A. The trail is a short distance on the right. There's a large parking lot in Ayer Center and smaller lots in Groton, Pepperell, and Dunstable. For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/nash.htm .

Facilities: There are non-flush public toilets at the trail head in Ayer. Kemp's Service Station in Pepperell Center welcomes trail users to use their rest rooms.

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