Norwottuck Rail Trail Francis P Ryan Section

Northampton, Massachusetts 01060

Distance2.6mi
Elevation Gain149ft
Trailhead Elevation146ft
Top290ft
Elevation Min/Max145/290ft
Elevation Start/End146/146ft

Norwottuck Rail Trail Francis P Ryan Section

Norwottuck Rail Trail (Francis P. Ryan Section) is a hiking and biking trail in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is 2.6 miles long and begins at 146 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 149 feet. Near the trailhead there is a bench. This trail connects with the following: Francis P. Ryan Section of the Norwottuck Rail Trail.

Norwottuck Rail Trail (Francis P. Ryan Section) Professional Reviews and Guides

"In Northampton, Hadley, and Amherst Massachusetts. This paved, abandoned stretch of the Boston and Maine (B and M) Railroad serves up a scenic travel corridor to hikers, cyclists, skaters, joggers, wheelchair users, and cross-country skiers.

The route tours rural, residential, and light industry/commercial areas. Special attractions: Wildlife watching, nature study, mixed deciduous woods, swamps, fields, wildflowers, fall foliage."

"One of Massachusetts’s favorite rail trails, the Norwottuck Rail Trail is heavily used by commuting college students and by outdoor enthusiasts looking for a user-friendly trail. The rail line originated as a Massachusetts Central Railroad route in 1887, opening after nearly twenty years of planning and construction. Stretching from Northampton to Boston, the route carried both freight and passengers, including Calvin Coolidge, a Northampton native. The Boston & Maine Railroad eventually took over the line, although it had been plagued by financial problems.

Almost immediately beyond the parking lot is the trail’s most striking feature: a multi-trestled bridge over New England’s largest river, the Connecticut. The bridge spans more than 0.5 mile. Built in 1887, it is one of the few surviving iron bridges from that era. Below is Elwell Island, a sixty-acre preserve that is home to more than a dozen species of birds."

"Historians believe that the Native Americans who first lived in the region named the area “Norwottuck,” meaning “in the midst of the river.”The rail line originated as a Massachusetts Central Railroad route in 1887, opening after nearly twenty years of planning and construction. Stretching from Northampton to Boston, the route carried both freight and passengers including Calvin Coolidge, a Northampton native. The Boston & Maine Railroad eventually took over the line, although it had been plagued by financial problems. Passenger service on the line ended at the start of the Depression, but freight service continued on the line through 1980.

One of Massachusetts’ favorite rail-trails, the Norwottuck Rail-Trail is heavily used by commuting college students and by outdoor enthusiasts looking for a user-friendly trail. Surface: Asphalt. Location: Hampshire County."

Norwottuck Rail Trail (Francis P. Ryan Section) Reviews

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7/14/2018
Easy bike ride
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6/21/2009
This is nice hike, good paved trail, well maintained, nice wildlife--look for bird nests in the tunnels
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7/4/2007
Very busy with bikers, joggers and inline skaters on a holiday morning but it's a very flat, easy, kid-friendly trail with enough range of scenery including the tressle bridge on the NHampton end to keep kids 9 & 11 amused. An easy midway access point is behind the Whole Foods Market on Rt 9 in Hadley.
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6/2/2007
Excellent rail trail for biking, well-maintained except for occasional small frost heaves (not much you can do about that in MA). Straight, flat, with a very nice bike rental/sandwich shop at about halfway. The linking trail into Northampton, MA was closed for repairs when we visited.
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11/6/2006
Enjoyable rail trail with minimum grade change. A lot of bumps from roots in various area's. Overall it was a pleasant 16.7 mile (round trip) ride.
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7/10/2003
This is a nice relatively safe rail-trail for all types of users, including families. The surface was well maintained in most places. Children like riding over the old iron bridge and looking all the way down to the river, but warn them to spit down wind. My only concern would be heavy usage by the local students using the trail as a commuter route to one of the colleges. Some students tend to be speedsters trying to make up lost time.
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Norwottuck Rail Trail (Francis P. Ryan Section) Photos

Trail Information

Northampton
Nearby City
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Accessibility
Surface
Skating
Additional Use
Norwottuck Rail Trail, 413-586-8706
Local Contacts
Guide to the Norwottuck Rail Trail (free copies available at area bicycling and outdoor store).
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018