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The year 2017 marks 20 years since a rails-to-trails project was first mentioned in the Goffstown Master Plan, and thanks to work by the Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail and support throughout the community, this trail has become a shining example of what can become of an old rail corridor. The trail inhabits a segment of the former Boston and Maine (B&M) Railroad route that once spanned northern New England. A flood in 1936 damaged much of the line and its spurs, and in 1976, a fire consumed the covered bridge that crossed the Piscataquog River.
Beginning in Goffstown, the trail starts with little fanfare on Factory Street and sneaks behind neighborhoods with fleeting views of the glistening river to your left. Upon traveling on East Union Street about 0.3 mile, the trail picks up again past a school bus parking area and starts to take on a life of its own, with glimpses of the river far below.
You’ll pass by one of many convenient access points to the trail, the Goffstown Parks and Recreation Department complex, and go another 0.5 mile to the first of two crossings over Mast Road. Though the trail is mostly hard-packed gravel, the three street crossings—two over Mast Road and one over Henry Bridge Road—are paved and have plenty of signage to help residents easily connect to the trail.
In 0.7 mile, you’ll emerge from the woods and travel through the parking lot of a service station. (The trail picks up just on the other side, as signs indicate.) Here, a mile marker lets you know that you are 3.5 miles from the eastern end and the beginning of the Piscataquog Trail.
After another mile, the trail slips behind the New Hampshire State Prison for Women and the Hillsborough County Complex and courthouse. Friendly county workers maintain this part of the trail, and trail parking is available in the municipal lot. Note the brilliant redbrick buildings to your right, which once acted as coal storage for the B&M line and are now home to administrative offices.
More of the corridor’s history is apparent after you cross Danis Park Road and pass inside the deep cut where the cliffs were blasted to allow trains to travel at a proper grade. If it’s a hot day, you’ll also appreciate the cool breeze on your way through! Next, a secret tip: As you pass the Moose Club Park Road trailhead, keep an eye on your GPS; soon you will be at exactly 43ºN latitude, the same parallel that forms most of the boundary between Nebraska and South Dakota.
Near the eastern end, about 300 feet short of mile marker 0.0, a connecting path leads to the Sarette Recreation Complex, which has ample parking. At the official eastern end of the Goffstown Rail Trail, the route seamlessly connects to the Piscataquog Trail, which heads over the Merrimack River and into Manchester.
To reach parking in Goffstown from I-293, take Exit 6 for Amoskeag St. toward Goffstown Road. (If coming from I-293 S, follow the right fork of the exit ramp to Amoskeag St.) Take a slight left onto Amoskeag St. (signs for Concord/Goffstown Road/I-293), go 0.1 mile, and then continue straight onto Goffstown Road 1.8 miles. Continue onto Goffstown Back Road 2.1 miles, and then continue onto Center St. 0.7 mile (taking the second exit to head straight through one traffic circle). Continue onto Elm St. 2.6 miles, turn left onto SR 114 S/SR 13 S, and go 0.1 mile. Look for parking to your right in the Goffstown Town Hall lot. To access the northern end of the trail, travel south on SR 114 S/SR 13 S 0.1 mile across the Piscataquog River bridge, and take your first left onto Factory St. Go one block, and turn right onto the trail to head southeast.
To reach the southeast endpoint in Manchester from I-293, take Exit 5 for Granite St. toward West Manchester. Head southwest onto Granite St., and go 0.1 mile. Turn left onto S. Main St., and go 0.3 mile. Turn right onto Varney St., go 0.4 mile, and continue onto Mast Road/SR 114A 1.1 miles. Turn right onto Laurier St., and go 0.2 mile. Laurier St. turns slightly left and becomes Louis St. Turn right into the Sarette Recreation Complex, and look for parking on your left.
Beautiful trail nice even gravel and sand walkway but WAY WAY WAY too much broken glass along the trail someone didn’t want dogs on the trail !!!
Great trail but not for younger children around Goffstown part of the trail. Hope they can add railings to the trail near the lake as there is around a 30 foot drop in several areas.
Yes, some sand in places, but otherwise, this is a beautiful trail, well maintained, with safe road crossings and an overall very good dirt/cinder surface. The trail appears to end at the School Bus Depot, but if you continue down the road, it reconnects through the woods for a short distance before taking you out onto Main St of Goffstown. Beware, the Chipmunks are fearless!
Very nice wide trail that is easy to walk with Beautiful views
Loved it so nice level and well-maintained beautiful Walk!!!
I recently reviewed the Piscatoquog River Trail. In that review, I indicated that because I was on my road bike, I decided not to ride the Goffstown Rail Trail (GRT) due to the surface. I just rode the GRT on my hybrid and am glad I didn't try it on my road bike. The surface changes numerous times from dirt to hard-packed gravel to sand. Needless to say, sand is difficult to bike through. This trail would be more enjoyable if the surface was consistent. Make sure to ride it with knobby tires that have some width. Hopefully the town has plans to resurface it.
Even though the trail crosses the road a few times, the crossings are protected by crosswalks and lights. They are very safe.
Scenery-wise, it's a nice trail to ride. It passes by a potter's field, behind a women's prison, in the woods, and by Glen Lake. The town of Goffstown is really quaint and is a nice place to grab a bite to eat. If you like coffee places, check out Apotheca.
really cool trail to workout 22 miles in 2 hours looks real for me.
Started off from the Fisher Cat Stadium and followed the bike path to the Goffstown Rail Trail...nice long ride and very scenic. Lots of people walking,running, riding their bikes. On a nice day expect to see a lot of people especially early afternoon. So you really got to pay attention when your biking. Expect to see some Graffiti along the way...there is little trails that lead down to the waters edge...and if you really want to be adventurous there are trails off the path which are pretty nice, fun to go exploring...I would recommend this trial to anyone who likes to stay active...
We rode east from Davis Park Rd (east of downtown Goffstown), all the way into Manchester and ended on the bridge over the Merrimack River. The trail is asphalt from ~Agnes Street east, but even the gravel stretch was mostly in very good shape. We rode on hybrid bikes and had no issues. Looking forward to trying the western stretch of the trail.
They are wrapping up a major construction project that replaced the bridge near Pinard Street to connect to the section of trail that is in Manchester. They also did work on the section of trail we haven't tried as yet.
There are several places to park along the trail, but they are not well marked. It appears that they are creating a parking space right along Rt. 13 a little west of where we started. Will post an update after we try the other section.
I found parking for this trail off Pinard Street directly behind the apartment complex which is across the street from the former St. Edmond's Church, which is now Shiloh Church. When you enter apartment complex, it looks as though you're on their property, but it's a public road. Follow it past the apartments, and then the road (only about 500' long) drops around and down to the very beginning of the trail on the Manchester (easterly) end of the trail. There's room for about 6 or 7 cars, or more if you want to park on the side of that road on the downhill portion. I will go there again today to check on this and will update to make sure it hasn't changed since my last time there (early summer).
Over the spring & summer I have biked the section from Shirley Park Rd to the Manchester line. The sections that are done are level & a very nice ride. There are two areas where you have to cross Route 114, which can be tricky depending on the time of day. It will be a great addition when the trestle at the Manchester/Goffstown line is completed, where it will be a straight shot from the village of Goffstown all the way to downtown Manchester. The people involved in clearing the rails to trails have done a great job so far. Looking forward to its completion...
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