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Peanut Rail Trail, Newton NH

• 3-star trail
• 1.4 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Newton, NH | Seacoast Region
• Driving Directions: See on map

Woodland setting of the Peanut Trail at Newton, NH.

Providing rail service from 1873 until 1971, the 4 mile Merrimac Branch provided both passenger and freight service along its route. The branch found lucrative income from the JB Judkins Company of Merrimac who handcrafted carriage bodies for the early auto industry, including for the Lincon Motor Company.

Wrapped in brown protective layers and strapped to railcars, this shrouded and strangely-shaped cargo resembled giant peanuts as they rolled through neighborhoods, thus giving the name to the Newton section of what is now a pleasant rail trail.

Hardpack, Rough, Live Rail, Historic.

Peanut Rail Trail 3★
1.4 mi ea way, Easy, Elevation nominal.
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails
Trailspotting Map as GPX Download

Due to a section of the former Merrimac Branch being held in private hands, the former rail route is split in to two separate rail trails - The Peanut Trail at Newton, New Hampshire and the Jay McLaren Memorial Trail across the state line in Massachusetts. The formalized section of the Peanut Trail is a well-trodden almost flat hardpack trail frequented mostly by dog walkers and occasional locals out for a stroll. The trail passes through woodland and swamp, with little in the way of views, and a couple of short trails shown on the trailhead map that veer off into the woods for those who want to explore further.

The trail continues across South Main Street to the East for those who want to continue to explore this old rail line further. This short section isn't marked on the trailhead map, but it is public land owned by the town. This section is less well maintained, and you're likely to have to step over fallen trees along the route which ends at a fence line and 'no trespassing' signs.

Dense tree cover on the trailside swamp. | Easy going on the Peanut Trail.

The town of Newton appears to be a little shy of their rail trail, as the main trailhead located on South Main Street is set-back and unsignposted. Use our map to locate it and allow for very short drive along a dirt road to reach it. This dirt road and trailhead is the former location of Newton's railroad station, though the station building itself has now been moved across town and converted into a residence. There is also roadside parking for a couple of vehicles where the trail meets Whittier Street at the West end.

Trail Conditions: Hardpack ground with an occasional small rock to avoid. The short length of trail East of S Main Street is rougher, with fallen small trees. No significant gradient.

Newton Station, now the trailhead location (Public domain image).

• External Links: Merrimac Branch History
• External Maps: Public Map on AllTrails, TrailLink
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

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