Monadnock Rail Trail


• 8.9 mile trail (officially 7.5 mi)
• Northbound gain 140 feet (1,035-1,135 ft)
• Southbound gain 150 feet (1,035-1,135 ft)
• Monadnock Region | Jaffrey NH to Winchendon MA
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Railroad tie bridge over Robbins Pond.

The Monadnock Recreational Rail Trail is located between the towns of Jaffrey, NH and Winchendon, MA on the Southern border of New Hampshire. It also incorporates the Rindge Rail Trail and the Jack Dupree Memorial Trail.

We have mapped the full 8.9 mile trail between these towns, including identifying abandoned routes and alternative trails to continue your journey. The link to the map is at the bottom of this article. The Monadnock Railroad route was carved into the landscape in 1870 and extended North to Peterborough a year later. The line remained operational until 1984.

To explore this route to its fullest, we recommend beginning in the town of Jaffrey and heading south. Paved trail gives way to dirt and compacted crushed stone when you leave the town behind, as you follow first the Contoocook River then cross the Contoocook Lake with water on both sides of you. Pass through wetlands, then briefly follow the US-202 until you head off into dense woodland.


A rusted railroad spike sits atop the state boundary marker.

Trail conditions are good for bikes with at least hybrid tires, which is what we used for the journey. There is a short section with railroad ties, a couple of brief spots of sand and one short patch of track ballast – all easily overcome.

Mile 7.5 is where you’ll find the state boundary marker, and this is where most published maps of the Monadnock Rail Trail route end. However, you should at least check out the railroad tie bridge at Robbins Pond just a little further South, and we also recommend continuing South as long as conditions allow. We tackled this trail in a wet, late August and found the remaining trail to Winchendon to be fine for the most part, with occasional patches of shallow mud.


Industrial dilapidation in Winchendon, MA.

If you’re able to reach the outskirts of Winchendon you’ll be presented with a pile of junk blocking your path. In case you want to go further, we’ve mapped a couple of routes to reach public roads that will lead you to the final part of the old railroad route into Winchendon – which is around 1,100 ft long and unimproved.

Monadnock Rail Trail links:
North - Peterborough Rail Trail
South - Winchendon Rail Trail (see trail map)

Tangents:
Official websiteAllTrails link
Trailspotting NH bike trail reviews
Trailspotting NH map of bike trails
Comment at Facebook Trailspotting Group