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.
Shortly after passing the Arlington Reservoir, the Minuteman Bikeway borders Great Meadows, which at 183 acres is one of the largest publicly owned open spaces in the area. Because Great Meadows has limited access from area roads, the bikeway functions as the best way to get to this beautiful park and its acres of wildflowers and wetlands. Great Meadows also offers miles of off-road hiking trails for trail users interested in stepping off the pavement of the Minuteman Bikeway.
Vermont: Missisquoi Valley Rail-Trail
The Missisquoi Valley Rail-Trail (MVRT) provides trail users — many of whom take to the crushed-limestone trail on snowmobiles, cross-country skis, or snowshoes in the winter — with direct access to the heart of northern Vermont’s dairy country. As the MVRT winds its way northeast from St. Albans to Richford, just south of the Quebec border, trail users enjoy picturesque views of Franklin County’s farms, forests, fields, and wetlands. The trail’s original railroad right-of-way, the Central Vermont Railway’s Richford Branch, never exceeds a grade of 3 percent, making it the perfect venue to spend a relaxing time enjoying the postcard images the trail offers.
In addition to the many scenic vistas found along the trail, the MVRT also provides trail users with numerous opportunities to experience some of the quaint villages and towns of northwestern Vermont. St. Albans, at the trail’s western end, offers restaurants, bicycle rentals, and a historical museum. Housed in a renovated 1863 brick schoolhouse, the St. Albans Historical Museum features railroad memorabilia, antique maps, and photographs of the area. About 11 miles farther east, after taking in some gorgeous views of the nearby mountains, trail users come upon the Abbey Restaurant, which offers home-cooked meals. The Abbey also provides trailside benches and a bike rack for trail users. A few miles later, the charming village of Enosburg Falls comes into view, often surprising trail users with its vibrant downtown. The final 10 miles of the MVRT take trail users past a snack bar in East Berkshire before leading to the MVRT’s eastern end in Richford near the Jay Peak Ski Resort, which offers summertime road and mountain biking opportunities.