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Goffstown & Piscataquog Rail Trails NH

• 4-star trail
• 7.5 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Elevation gain nominal
• Merrimack Region | Goffstown - Manchester NH
• Parking: Goffstown Rec, Sarette Field

On the Hands Across the Merrimack Bridge to Manchester.

The Goffstown passenger depot begain serving the public in 1850 with the opening of the New Hampshire Central Railroad to Manchester, which was quickly extended North as far as Henniker. Although pedestrian rail service closed in 1938 (freight service continued to Manchester until 1981), pleasingly the building still serves the public today though it now serves coffees rather than tickets.

A fire in 1976 burned Goffstown's covered bridge spanning the Piscataquog River so that the passenger depot is no longer directly connected to the old railroad route to Manchester. However, thanks to civic construction projects the towns of Manchester and Goffstown are now connected along the same alignment by the 5.6 mile Goffstown Rail Trail leading to the 2 mile Piscataquog Trail.

Beginning in Goffstown for the full rail trail experience the journey to Manchester is effectively flat, though technically on a marginally downhill grade. Surface is compacted gravel but still easy to walk or ride on.

Asphalt, Hardpack, Road, Historic.

Passing the old and dilapidated buildings and other remnants of Goffstown's industrial past, the trail continues alongside Glen Lake then crosses state route 114 a couple of times before following the Piscataquog River to Pinardville and ultimately terminating across the Merrimack River in Manchester. We would have liked more views of the lake and river, which are unfortunately hidden behind trees, but the trail is still very pleasant.

The Goffstown Rail Trail requires three major road crossings which are well protected with crosswalk buttons and lights. The trail also crosses several smaller roads, requiring trail users to obey stop signs and giving road users the right of way. We also noted at least one of these roads having no warning signs to road users about the upcoming rail trail crossing.

Switching on to the Piscataquog Trail will be immediately obvious to most trail users, as its entire length is smoothly paved. After some more forest trail, this section gives great views of the Piscataquog River at the River Trail Bridge and Kelly's Falls Dam before descending into a suburban railroad cutting which leads to the snappily-named Hands Across the Merrimack Footbridge crossing to Manchester.

For further exploration, the East end of the trail connects to Manchester's Heritage Trail which runs along the East banks of the Merrimack River. Across town, there's also the start of the 27 mile Rockingham Recreational Trail. Also just up the road from Goffstown is the pretty 5 mile New Boston Rail Trail which follows a spur off the New Hampshire Central Railroad.

Trail Conditions
Goffstown hardpack with 0.3 mi of quiet road biking. Piscataquog asphalt throughout. Protected road crossings. Western half of the trail is flat, Eastern half slopes down to Manchester at an easy 44ft/mi.

Goffstown, New Hampshire.

The former passenger depot at Goffstown now serves coffees instead of tickets.

Mind the gap: The Goffstown covered bridge used to span the Piscataquog here.

Cyclists taking a break to enjoy the Glen Lake views.

• External Links: Goffstown, Piscataquog, AllTrails Public
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Rail Trails
• North 5 mi: Sgt Station Rd • East 2 mi: Rockingham-Portsmouth • South 1 mi: South Manchester • West 3 mi: New Boston

NH Rail Trails Map
New Hampshire’s first complete rail trail map. Includes links to all rideable trails. Shows live and abandoned railroads.

Goffstown RT
The Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail need volunteers and donations to maintain and improve the trail.
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