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 and Greenways 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.
  • West Farms Multiuse Trail will run from the New Haven and Northampton to the Burts Pit Road area. Only the Ice Pond Spur section has been completed.
  • Northampton Connecticut River Greenway will run from the MassCentral to Hatfield along the river.

The trail is primarily a 10' asphalt trail, narrower or of a soft surface in a couple of sections to address local conditions.

Rail and Multiuse Trail (by segment)
MassCentral Rail Trail: eventually Boston to Northampton.
 Belchertown to Leeds (Norwottuck section) complete.
100Notes. All trails asphalt except as noted below
MassCentral: Hadley to Ct. River Railroad (Northampton)0.9State rail trail
MassCentral: Ct. River Railroad by King St. to Grove Ave (Leeds)
(main trail and Walgreen/Stop& Shop spur
4.8Soft surface north of Florence St.. DPW maintained except soft surface
MassCentral: Grove Ave spur to S. Main St. (Haydenville)0.7Currently unimproved. City's top trail extension priority. Planning maintained.
New Haven and Northampton Canal Rail Trail: eventually Northampton to New Haven. Northampton and Easthampton (Manhan section) complete.90  Various along the way
New Haven and Northampton: Ct. River Railroad by King Street to Easthampton4.0DPW maintained
Hospital Hill Spur: Earle Street to former Northampton State Hospital0.4Sidewalk, asphalt trail, partially DPW and partially Village HillI
Ice Pond Spur: Ice Pond Drive to Florence Road0.4Planning maintained. Long term goal is to connect to the New Haven and Northampton and to the Ryan Road School area
 Connecticut River Greenway 0No current trail. Long term goal is to connect state MassCentral to Elm Court in Hatfield

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 and 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 and Sustainability. Note purpose of donation.
  3. Checks to "Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways." Note purpose of donation.

Also visit Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways (FNTG) 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 (installed 2012), designed to evoke activities along the rail trail (walking, bicycling, strolling, trains, etc)-- $31,850 (all from fundraising).
  • Wayfinding signage installed on art kiosks designed to reflect steel railroad bridge construction ($10,000 from a state grant and local contributions).
  • A mileage marker program with a symbolic mileage marker 0 where all the trails connect. (This project is in the planning stages)