Northern Rail Trail, NH

• 4 & 5-star trail
• 58.0 miles each way
• Easy difficulty • Easy-moderate elevation
• Lebanon to Boscawen, NH • Sunapee Region
• Driving Directions: Marked on map

Packard Hill Covered Bridge close to the Northern Rail Trail.

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The epic Northern Rail Trail spans the rural center of New Hampshire, beginning close to Concord and winding along river valleys, along lake shores and between rolling hillsides for fifty eight miles. Comprised of a mostly hardpack surface on a former railroad bed, the trail achieves this with no hills to climb, making this an excellent bicyling trail for cyclists of almost all abilities.

With this article we provide the map not only for the whole route, but assume many of our readers will want to experience sections of the Northern Rail at a time. To that end, we've provided an elevation profile that identifies towns along the route, and on our map we show the location of (and include driving directions to) all the parking locations we can find.

Asphalt, Hardpack, No Access, Parking Expand Map

Northern Rail Trail 4 & 5★
58.0 miles each way, Easy, Gain 1860ft (1540ft W-E)
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

We've awarded the Northern Trail with both 4-star and 5-star reviews, but our five star rating is reserved for the western most section of trail between Lebanon and Enfield. The trail exits Lebanon along a tree lined journey along a string of bridges that cross the Mascoma River many times. After the fourth such bridge, considering backtracking along Riverside Drive to reach the picturesque location of Packard Hill Covered Bridge. Beyond this and several other river crossings you reach Mascoma Lake. Continuing on will take you through the small town of Enfield and past the huge buildings and dam of the former Upper Baltic Mills, a site which has remained idle for the past fifty years.

The whole of the Northern Rail Trail is a celebration of New Hampshire diversity - beginning and ending at two of the states larger towns, but passing through scenic countryside, small towns and other areas close to wilderness. Enjoy views of several rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds and even a total of three covered bridges close to the trail.

A hillside farm close to Canaan.

Houses reflecting across Mascoma Lake.

As a former Northern Railroad route expect to see remnants of the industrial age on your journey, including several passenger depots, stretches of partly-hidden and abandoned track and even the remains of an old turntable close to the town of Franklin. Potter's Place is a favorite - a restored railroad station and rolling stock that is also the home of the Andover Historical Society Museum.

The Northern Rail Trail also connects to the 2 mile Mascoma River Greenway rail trail, which picks up the same rail route on the west side of Lebanon and is the subject of a future trail review. You can also reach the dramatic Winnipesaukee River Rail Trail via a short 1 mile connection across the town of Franklin.

Trail Conditions
Mostly smooth hardpack surface suitable for almost all cyclists. Gradients are slight in most locations.

The restored Potters Place is now Andover's historical museum.

Riding past Gerrish Depot, last used as a 1950s jail.

The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail have kindly identified three e-bike charging stations on the route, so we've added them to our map. One of these locations is also the Danbury Country Store, situated in the middle of the whole trail and is a great place to order a sandwich or stock up on drinks.

The former Upper Baltic Mill is still standing in Enfield.

Riding alongside fields close to Boscawen.

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

Nearby Trails:
• 0 miles away: Mascoma Rail Trail (2 miles)
• 1 mile away: Winnipesaukee River RT (4★, 4.9 mi)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

Trailspotting's Covered Bridges
Maps, directions and links for all New Hampshire's covered bridges.

Friends of the Northern Rail Trail
The organization works to improve and maintain the trail. See how you can help.

New Hampshire Rail Trail Coalition logo
NH Rail Trail Coalition
Support the NHRTC and check out their Rail Trail Challenge.
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