Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Check Out NH's Northern Rail Trail

Thanks to Patrice of Life Less Ordinary for sharing this post. The Northern Rail Trail has been on my wish list for a while. Glad to hear it's worth the trip! If you're biking in the Granite State this spring, be sure to let us know all about it.

Just Keep Pedaling (and You Won't be Bothered by Black Flies)
J and I hit the Northern Rail Trail Saturday and it did not disappoint. Right now, there’s about 10 miles completed through Andover and just over the Franklin line, and supposedly another 25 miles between Lebanon and Danbury (but we can’t attest to that). Plus, in 2010, they are planning to connect the Andover line to Danbury and Boscawen. That would make for nearly 60 miles of rail trail!

The 10-mile section we did was just great! You ride on crushed gravel through wooded areas, passing a few lakes, ponds, streams and lots of signs of the old railway. For a spring day, I was surprised that it wasn’t that crowded, but it could have been the black flies. If you just don’t take any breaks from riding, they won’t bother you!

The trail is open all four seasons for multiple uses and I imagine it’s gorgeous in the fall with the colors. The rail line ran from White River Junction, Vt., to Concord from the 1840s to the 1960s. At the northern end of the 10-mile section we did, there’s an old train depot, Potter’s Place, which in itself, is pretty cool.

Directions and Parking: There are 3 parking areas along this 10-mile section. We parked at the Highland Lake Inn, which is on the SE side of the trail and serves as a welcome center for the trail (has toilet facilities). There is also parking at Blackwater Park and Potter Place. Those areas actually seemed more crowded than where we parked. All of the parking areas are off Route 11 in Andover. Check out http://www.fnrt.org/ for maps and more information.

What You Need to Know: The bike path is wide in most sections, but it’s used for multiple purposes, so be conscious of bikers, walkers, runners, strollers and horses and yield-to/passing rules. The path is not paved, but the crushed stone was still smooth enough. It was not too crowded when we went on a Saturday, but I imagine it does get crowded. When you park at Highland Lake Inn, you are not at the SE terminus of the trail. It goes another 2 miles or so over the Franklin town line. Potter Place is the NW terminus of the trail.

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