Amesbury & Salisbury Rail Trails, MA


• 4-star trails
• 3.8 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Amesbury - Salisbury, MA | NE Massachusetts
• Driving Directions: Marked on map


Gliding up the smooth, paved Old Eastern Marsh Trail.

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Having reviewed the current condition of the New Hampshire Seacoast Greenway Rail Trail, which includes at least eleven miles of good navigable trail up to Portsmouth, we thought we'd investigate the continuation of the old Hampton Branch line into Massachusetts on the Old Eastern Marsh Trail. Also linking into this trail is the East-West route into Amesbury, so we're covering that here too.

Old Eastern Marsh Trail (North-South) 4★
3.8 mi ea way, Easy, Elevation nominal
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails
Trailspotting Map: GPX Download
Trailspotting Map: Google Earth KMZ

Fully paved, this North-South trail is a breeze to cycle on but is also enjoyed by many hikers and dog walkers too. The North half of the trail is mostly within forest, interspersed by occasional fields and the Partridge Brook Park where you'll find a new children's playground and a dog park complete with obstacle course. The South half of the trail opens up to the Great Salt Marsh before terminating at Merrimack River and the abandonded railroad bridge.

We rate this trail as 4-star due to its paved surface, varied surroundings, amenities and occasional interpretive signs. There's a short section of moderately quiet road on which you'll have to travel, but it has not been appointed with bike lanes of any kind for some reason. There's also a short section of hardpack access trail at the North end where the trail connects with the parking lot in New Hampshire but that's easy for most folk to handle.

In April 2023 painted bike lanes were added to the Gillis Memorial Bridge on both sides, connecting the Old Eastern Marsh Trail to Newburyport and the Clipper City Trail. There is also a raised sidewalk on the east side of the bridge only if you find that a safer option. Unlike in New Hampshire, riding a bicycle on a sidewalk in Massachusetts is legal provided it's necessary to provide a safe route.

Trail Conditions:
Paved throughout except for a 0.2 mi moderately quiet road biking section. Flat trail.

Asphalt, Hardpack, Bike Lane, Road, No Access, Parking Expand Map

Ghost Trail & Amesbury Riverwalk 4★ (East-West)
3.8 mi ea way, Easy, Elevation nominal
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails
Trailspotting Map: GPX Download
Trailspotting Map: Google Earth KMZ

The railroad spur to Amesbury provided passenger services to the town, but also a freight service for the thriving late nineteenth century carriage building industry. The completed carriages would be shipped out on freight trains replete with white linen protective covers, and the spooky sight of these pale forms gliding through the woods at night led to the route being given the nickname of the 'Ghost Trail'.

We had no spectral encounters on our trip from the Old Eastern Marsh Trail to Amesbury unfortunately, though we did enjoy a pleasant Westward ride through the woods. By necessity the trail has to cross under two interstate highways to reach the town, but the Riverwalk that is the second half of this route keeps trail users away from such hustle and bustle for the remainder of the trip. We do wish however that there were more views of the river on the Riverwalk.

The terminus of the rail route has changed several times with the moving of Amesbury's passenger depot. The latest railroad station is now serving as a restaurant, so the Riverwalk now ends at what I assume is a former railroad section house, replete with railroad paraphenalia and an interpretive sign.

Trail Conditions:
East side 1.7 mi hardpack. West side 1.5 mi asphalt. Connected in the middle by 0.5 mi unprotected road biking section on Elm Street (sidewalk available). Flat trail.


Former railroad building at the West end of the Amesbury Riverwalk.


Boardwalk section on the Old Eastern Marsh Trail.


Merrimack River at the end of the Old Eastern Marsh Trail


The hardpack surface of the Salisbury Point Ghost Trail.

Tangents:
• Official Links: Old Eastern, Ghost, Riverwalk
• Public Maps at AllTrails: Old Eastern, Riverwalk
• Trail Link: Old Eastern, Ghost, Riverwalk
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Trails:
• 1 mile away: Clipper City RT (4★, 3.5 mi)
• 1 mile away: NH Seacoast Greenway Trails (4★, 13 mi)
• 5 miles away: Jay McLaren & Peanut RTs (3★, 2.4 mi)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

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