Rail Trails and Multiuse Trails

Northampton's rail and multiuse trail network currently is easily accessible to about 70% of Northampton's residents. We hope to continue to expand the network until we have trails accessible to 80% of our population and can serve more destinations to home, work, and play.

Rail and multiuse trail responsibilities in Northampton are:
1. The Office of Planning and Sustainability plans and develops trails and assist in capital repairs and maintenance.
2. The Department of Public Works maintains most of the trails.
3. The Transportation and Parking Commission and its Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee advise in these areas.
4. The Massachusetts Depart. of Conservation and Recreation owns and maintains trail on east side of Ct. River railroad.
5. The rail trail adopt-a-trail program brings in volunteers to maintain sections of the trail.
6. A collaboration with Friends of Northampton Trails brings in the community for annual cleanups, fundraising, and other joint projects.

The rail and multiuse trail network consists of the following existing and planned trails:

  • MassCentral Rail Trail (Norwottuck section): This trail will eventually extend 100 miles from Boston to Northampton. 6.4 miles of the trail is in Northampton. The trail is currently being expanded in Leeds 0.4 miles. View general information on the trail and the surface (PDF). View trail construction plans (PDF). View trail constructions specifications (PDF).
  • New Haven and Northampton Canal Rail Trail (Manhan section): This trail will eventually extend 90 miles from New Haven to Northampton. 4 miles of the trail is in Northampton.
  • Rocky Hill Greenway will run from the New Haven and Northampton to the Burts Pit Road area and is currently under development.
  • Northampton Connecticut River Greenway will run from the MassCentral to Hatfield along the river.

The trail is primarily a 10' asphalt trail, narrower as needed to address local conditions.

Multi-use Trails (by segment)
MassCentral Rail Trail
Northampton sections:
100Eventually to Boston (gaps remain)
MassCentral: Hadley to Ct. River Railroad in Northampton
0.9State rail trail
MassCentral: Union Station to Haydenville town line
6DPW maintained, with planning assistance.
New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail
Northampton sections:
95  Eventually to New Haven (gaps remain)
NH & NH Canal Rail Trail
4.5Union Station to Easthampton town line
Hospital Hill Spur
0.4Earle Street to Village Hill
Rocky HIll Greenway


Eventually NH & NH Canal to Florence Fields




Rocky Hill Greenway
1.0
0.4
0.5
0.9
NH &NH to Ice Pond Drive (planned for 2022)
Ice Pond Drive to Florence Road (existing)
Florence Road to Burts Pit Road (planned for 2025)
Burts Pit Road to Overlook Dr. to Sandy Hill Road. (under construction 2019)
 Connecticut River Greenway 0Eventually MassCentral to Elm Court, Hatfield.


0.1
0.3
1.5
Bridge Street to MassCentral  (under construction 2019-2020)
MassCentral to River Run, Damon Road (2020-2022)
Damon Road/River Run to Elm Court (in early planning states)





Trail etiquette

  • Alert others when passing
  • Stay to the right unless passing
  • Ride or roller blade in single file
  • Stop and look both ways at road crossings
  • Please don’t litter: bring out what you bring in
  • Keep dogs on a leash and pick up waste
  • Wear a helmet (state law for bicyclists 16 and under)
  • Respect private property along the trail
  • Except for personal mobility devices, no unauthorized vehicles allowed on the trail

You can help:

1. Most important, ride and walk the trails and spread the word.
2. Consider how trails can be part of a strategy to reduce how often and how far you drive by yourself.
3. Sign up to volunteer and adopt a section of the trail to help with maintenance
4. Contribute financially to help:

  1. Checks to "City of Northampton" mailed to the Office of Planning & Sustainability. Note purpose of donation.
  2. Checks to "Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts-- Northampton Open Space and Bicycle Projects Fund" mailed to the Office of Planning & Sustainability. Note purpose of donation.
  3. Checks to "Friends of Northampton Trails." Note purpose of donation.

Also visit Friends of Northampton Trails (FNT) for overall information.

For maps, the best sites are the FNTG excellent trail maps and the

State DCR MassCentral/Norwottuck Rail Trail Map (PDF)

Planning and Sustainability has a goal of 0.4% of its capital projects being dedicated to the arts, including applied arts. To achieve that goal for the $12 million dollars spent to develop a rail trail network over the past few years, the city undertook:

  • Art installation on the rail trail bridge over Main Street (2012), designed to evoke activities along the rail trail (walking, bicycling, strolling, trains, etc)-- $31,850 (fundraising).
  • Wayfinding signage installed on art kiosks designed to reflect steel railroad bridge construction ($10,000: state grant and local contributions).
  • A mileage marker program with a symbolic historic mileage marker 0 at Union Station, where all the trails connect, and at the intersection of the state and city trails off King Street