Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nashua River Rail Trail: Ayer, MA to Nashua, NH

Directions: Click here for Google map to Ayer parking (for more parking options and map, click here and scroll down)

The Nashua River Rail Trail is a former railroad right of way that travels 11 miles through the towns of Ayer, Groton, Pepperell, and Dunstable.  The trail offers a 10-foot wide paved surface for the entire length.  It is completely flat and straight (a rare thing in New England), and is surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers, and chirping birds.  The rail trail is quite a lovely place to walk, compared to the busy roads in the area.

The rail trail was once known as the Hollis Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad.  One by one, various tracks were abandoned between 1929 and 1982.  The State of Massachusetts' Department of Conservation and Recreation purchased the Hollis Branch in 1987 and opened the walking trail to the public in 2002.  You can find more info here.

Cooper and I had a great time walking the trail this afternoon!  Please note that you must keep your dog leashed for safety (the trail is shared with bicycles and horses).  Also, remember to bring a bag to clean up after them; some parking lots provide bags, but not all.

Information source: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Here are the positive features:
  • Quiet trail, beautiful country walk
  • Well maintained pavement
  • Large, free parking lots are available all along the trail
  • Thanks to the paved trail, we didn't get any ticks
Negative features:
  • We didn't see any streams along the way, so bring water for your puppy!
  • There's no "loop", you just have to turn around when you're ready to head back
  • The bicycles can really whiz by, so be careful not to let your dog roam from one side of the trail to the other (which they like to do when there are good smells!)

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