From a short jaunt to the next town over to a long trail spreading across two counties, we highlight a sampling of the many Recreation Rail Trails New Hampshire has to offer.
As the demand for railway transportation declines across the country, thousands of miles of tracks no longer see crossing trains, but they aren’t laying vacant. Railroad beds are being repurposed into Recreational Rail Trails, and in New Hampshire, 371 miles of railway tracks have already been converted. The trails crisscross the state and offer an easy hike for families or those just looking to relax and take in the beauty of the state. Below we highlight two trails in the western half of the state that are worth the trip to trek.
Northern Recreational Rail Trail
Running from Franklin to Lebanon, this 48-mile trail is the longest of New Hampshire’s rail trails – and still expanding, slated to be nearly 60 miles once completed. Designed as a four-season attraction, the old tracks welcome hikers, bikers, and equestrians throughout the year. Come snowfall, the trail also opens up to Nordic skiers, snowmobilers, and mushers. No matter the season, the route offers a handful of charming historic stops along the way like Enfield Depot, Potter Place Depot, and Highland Lake.
Sugar River Recreational Rail Trail
This nine-mile trail meanders along the Sugar River from Newport to Claremont. The short trail sees seven river crossings, two of which are on historic covered bridges. Along with hikers, bikers, and equestrians, this rail trail is one of the few in the system that is welcome to ATVs. Come winter, the path becomes a hit among Nordic skiers, snowshoers, mushers, and snowmobilers. The views of the river are so picturesque, the trail has been featured as the “trail of the month” by the Rail to Trail Conservancy. Our top tip? Pack a camera and binoculars because this lightly-traveled trail is full of wildlife like deer, rabbits, and all kinds of birds.