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Sugar River Rail Trail & Bobby Woodman, NH


• 5-star trail
• 9.5 to 11.3 miles each way
• Medium - Hard difficulty | Moderate elevation
• Newport - Claremont, NH | Sunapee Region
• Driving Directions: Marked on map


Wright's Covered Bridge.

Among the most picturesque rail trails in New Hampshire, the shady Sugar River Rail Trail intertwines with the wide and fast-flowing river from which it is named, over several river crossings including steel truss bridges and historic covered railroad bridges.

Historically the route of the Western section of the Concord & Claremont Railroad built in the 1870s, the state of New Hampshire had the foresight to buy this right-of-way after it was abandoned in 1977. The route is now a multi-use trail maintained in part by fees from snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle owners, who share the trail with hikers, cyclists, equestrians and cross-country skiers.

Hardpack (some sand), Live Rail, Historic.


Sugar River & Bobby Woodman Rail Trails 5★
9.5-11.3 mi ea way, Medium, Elevation nominal.
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails
Trailspotting Map as GPX Download

For the best out-and-back bicycle experience we advise starting at the West end by the Route 103 trailhead near Claremont. Here the Eastbound trail runs along the banks of the Sugar River on a surface that is mostly hardpack with short patches of occasional sand. Bikes with smaller tires and less seasoned riders may struggle with some of the trail conditions, and by starting at the less sandy West end and riding the gentle uphill gradient, the rider has the option to turn around and head back downhill depending on their comfort level. From the Western trailhead of the Sugar River Trail, the bridges are at mile 2.3 and 3.5 and the two steel truss bridges are at mile 6.1 and 6.5.

Walkers will also likely prefer starting at the Western end, though alternatively parking by Oak Street would start you by the two steel truss bridges and a Westerly 4 mile trek leads to the railroad bridges. Check out the interpretative sign by the parking lot to learn about the factories that once stood on this site, and the covered bridge that once carried Oak Street traffic across the river.


Following closely to the Sugar River, the rail trail has great views.

One-way bicycle trippers will likely want to start in the East by the Claremont trailhead and head downhill. From here you'll experience the most numerous and deepest of sandy sections, which are at their worst in dry summer periods and immediately after being graded in the spring. Starting an out-and-back journey from here though, would set you up for an uphill return journey ending with the worst of the sandy conditions. Those with light gravel bikes or e-bikes might find the sand less of a problem however.

The 1.8 mile Bobby Woodman Rail Trail continues along the route in a Westerly direction, starting at the Route 103 Sugar River Trail trailhead and progressing as far as the remaining live railroad tracks just South of downtown Claremont. Instead of running alongside the river, this trail unfortunately runs between a highway and box-store parking lots for half its length, with the remaining distance traversing unremarkable residential neighborhoods.

The Sugar River Rail Trail is a genuine gem of a trail that's best explored between the months of May and October. All-terrain vehicles riding this route are most popular at weekends and holidays, so for the most tranquil visits we recommend a weekday visit where possible. Regardless of when you can visit however, this is a trail not to be missed.

Trail Conditions: Sugar River trail has hardpack surface with some occasional or sustained sandy sections at the East end. Those sandy sections can be hard going at times. Bobbby Woodman trail has a hardpack surface throughout.




Wright's Covered Bridge and the Sugar River, looking West.


One of several steel bridges crossing the Sugar River.

Tangents:
• Official Links: Sugar River, Bobby Woodman
• Public Maps at AllTrails: Sugar River, Bobby Woodman
• TrailLink: Sugar River
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

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

NH Covered Bridges
Visit the Trailspotting Covered Bridge Map for all NH covered bridge locations and links to nearby trail reviews.

NH State Parks
Support your New Hampshire State Parks, a self-funded organization managing trails like these without NH tax dollars.
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