Nashua River Rail Trail, NH-MA

• 4-star trail
• 12.2 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Pepperell - Ayer, MA | NE Mass, Merrimack NH
• Driving Directions: Marked on map

Groton School Pond has some of the best views on the Nashua River Rail Trail.

Trailspotting Rail Trail Map
Every rail trail, with links to our reviews, photos & detailed route maps.

From the first trains in 1848 to the last in the early 1980s the Worcester and Nashua Railroad line transported passengers and delivered freight including textiles and paper as far north as Portland, Maine. After the last of the local paper mills chose road haulage over rail, the line was finally abandoned. Rails were ripped up, and eventually the Massachusetts' Department of Conservation and Recreation paved opened the Nashua River Rail Trail in 2002.

Beginning at the suburbs of Nashua, New Hampshire and heading South for a mile before reaching the Massachusetts border, the rail trail passes through Pepperell and Groton, before ending at the town of Ayer which is still served by several live railroads today.

Asphalt, Rough, Live Rail, No Access, Parking Expand Map

Nashua River Rail Trail 4★
12.2 mi each way, Easy, Gain 320/280 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

Despite passing though several towns the trail has a distinctly woodland and rural feel. From the North the route cuts through dense forest, and over time opens up to wide vistas across large ponds and wetlands. Trail users can spot heron, beavers and turtles among the wetlands and catch sightings of deer and an occasional flock of turkeys.

One of the highlights nearby the trail is the Pepperell covered bridge, one of only ten covered bridges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and one of only three that is open to vehicular traffic. Though a covered bridge has stood on this spot since 1848, today's bridge is the third and it's only a teenager, having been opened in July 2010. We have a Map of Massachusetts Covered Bridges if you'd like to visit more of them.

Trail Conditions
Asphalt paved for its entire length, Nashua River Rail Trail is a smooth trip for all types of pedestrian and cyclist. Most of the trail should be considered flat, though there is a two mile section with a 45 ft/mi gradient. It is uphill for 2 miles in a Southbound direction, ending in Groton, though the gradient is slight and many cyclists will hardly feel it.

Pepperell Covered Bridge, a short diversion off the rail trail.

Single-track riverside walk off the rail trail, North of Pepperell.

Pepperell powerplant and dam, generating electricity since 1918.

• External Links: Official, TrailLink, Public Map at AllTrails
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Trails:
• 5 miles away: Nashua Heritage Rail Trail (3-star, 1.3 mi)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

Trailspotting's MA Covered Bridges
Maps, directions and links for all of the Commonwealth's covered bridges.

Trailspotting Gear Suggestions
About our trail essentials, favorite hiking equipment, bicycles and photography gear.

New Hampshire Rail Trail Coalition logo
NH Rail Trail Coalition
Support the NHRTC and check out their Rail Trail Challenge.
Bluesky Icon   Facebook Icon    Flipboard Icon   Instagram Icon   Mastadon Icon   RSS Feed Icon   Threads Icon
Subscribe for new trail reviews weekly

Trailspotting is non-commercial, ad-free and for the public good.
Content provided without warranty of accuracy. Copyright © 2005-2024 Stuart Green all rights reserved. Reproduction requires explicit consent.
About Trailspotting.