New England has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts, and bike trails are near the top of the list. From quiet country roads to old railroad beds, the region is ripe for those wanting to get out of the car and explore the land by bike. To provide with you some of the best rides in New England, we’ve teamed up with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that since 1986 has worked to create a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.
Maine: Jay to Farmington Trail
With the original ballast of gravel and sand still in place, the 14-mile Jay to Farmington Trail possesses a ruggedness that befits the trail’s rural surroundings. Located in the beautiful western hills of Maine, the trail offers scenic views of rolling hills, dense mixed forest and open farmland to its diverse group of trail users. Through cooperation and collective effort, motorized and non-motorized options for snowmobile and ATV riders, cross-country skiers, equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers all exist successfully on this corridor.
New Hampshire: Ashuelot Rail-Trail
Nestled in the hills and valleys of southwestern New Hampshire, the Ashuelot Rail-Trail stretches for 23 miles as it runs along the scenic Ashuelot River and through picturesque New Hampshire farmland. This is a true multi-use trail as both motorized and non-motorized users such as snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers take to the unimproved trail surface.
The trail’s southern endpoint is near the rural town of Hinsdale, just south of Pisgah State Park. From Hinsdale, the trail heads east through the small town of Winchester before turning north and heading toward the city of Keene. At the southern end, the trail runs along Route 63 for a mile or so as it passes farms on either side of its right-of-way. Trail users need to use caution, as the terrain can be soggy and rough on this section.
One mile from the start of the trail is the Hinsdale Station, a far-reaching and accurate private restoration of a Boston & Maine Railroad station in New England. A Green Mountain Railroad boxcar and an old New Haven Railroad caboose on the property lend more railroad history to this section of the trail. The location of the Hinsdale Station is somewhat unique as it overlooks the valley below. Most railroad stations aren’t situated with spectacular views like this one.
For the next few miles, the trail runs along a ridge and provides some panoramic views of the Ashuelot River. Near the four-mile mark, the trail passes the Ashuelot Covered Bridge, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Here also are the Sheridan House, a historic building restored by the Winchester Historical Society, and the run-down Ashuelot station. At mile seven, the trail crosses a small road where directions to Winchester offer the opportunity to explore this charming town and stop for a bite to eat.
From Winchester, the trail heads north through the town of Swanzey and on toward Keene. In Keene, the Ashuelot Rail-Trail will be part of the Roundhouse-T, a 0.64-mile, paved bicycle and pedestrian path that will link the central core of Keene to the Downtown Cheshire Branch Trail and the Keene Industrial Heritage Trail. Once completed, the Roundhouse-T will provide an alternative transportation connection for bicyclists and pedestrians in both an east-west and a north-south direction through the city.
Massachusetts: Minuteman Bikeway
Located a few miles northwest of Boston, the Minuteman Bikeway — celebrated as America’s 500th rail-trail when it opened in 1992 — continues to be one of the country’s most popular rail-trails. The aesthetically pleasing route traces past ponds, lakes, parks, and wildflower meadows as it connects the inner suburbs of Boston between Cambridge in the east and Bedford in the west. In addition to the recreation and alternative transportation opportunities provided by the paved 11 miles of the Minuteman Bikeway, the trail also provides walkers, bicyclists, inline skaters, and wheelchair users a chance to pass through the historic area where the American Revolution began in April 1775.
In Cambridge, where the trail connects to the Alewife “T” Station, the bikeway plays an integral role in helping to reduce automobile traffic. With the direct transit connection, the trail provides an easy way for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel to subway and bus lines. Farther west, the trail connects to a wide range of shops and restaurants in downtown Arlington, helping to create a vibrant pedestrian-oriented environment. After briefly joining Massachusetts Avenue, the bikeway passes by several of Arlington’s parks, culminating with the Arlington Reservoir and its summer swimming area, which converts to a winter skating pond.
Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.