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New Meetup: Nashua River Rail Trail

From: Bethany
Sent on: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:40 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for The Foxboro Grind & Grub Group!

What: Nashua River Rail Trail

When: Saturday, May 8,[masked]:30 PM

Where:
Nashua River Rail Trail
6 Groton Street
Ayer, MA 01432

** This is the first time I'm hosting a meet-up at this particular location. If you have ideas on parking/meeting space and/or social places for post ride, please feel free to leave a comment!*

Another idea from the group (thanks guys!) -- the Nashua River Rail Trail.

The Nashua River Rail Trail is a former railroad right of way that travels 11 miles through the towns of Ayer, Groton, Pepperell and Dunstable. The trail offers a 10-foot wide paved surface for the entire length, and a five-foot wide gravel equestrian path for seven miles of the trail from Groton Center to the New Hampshire border in Dunstable. The entire trail is open to pedestrians, bicyclists, inline skaters, wheelchairs, and cross-country skiers. The Nashua River Rail Trail travels along a varied landscape, offers numerous scenic overlooks, opportunities to see wildlife and has several resting stops.

Here's a map of the route.

I'm trying to be as exact with my parking directions as possible -- it appears that the Ayer Center parking lot has ~60 paved spots. While they typically fill up, we should be set with that as our starting spot. Here are the directions from the mass.gov site:

Take Rte. 2 east or west to exit 38B, then follow Route 111 north to Ayer Rotary. Go halfway around rotary to Rte. 2A. On Rte. 2A turn right after Ayer Center, take first right on Groton Street to trail parking lot on the right.

I found some more detailed directions (to same place):

To reach the Ayer trailhead, take Interstate 495 to Exit 29 and head west on State Route 2 to Exit 38B for State Route 111 north. From the rotary, continue on 111 north through Ayer Center and the downtown shopping district till you see the trail from the road (still 111 north). For trailhead parking, take the first right past the trail, followed by another right into the lot.

We're all pretty smart folks -- we can find each other! I'll send out my cell phone to those who plan to attend in case you get lost.


History
The trail is built along the site of the former Hollis branch of the Boston and Maine Corp. railroad. On July 3, 1848, the Worcester & Nashua Railroad opened for business with over 46 miles of track between Worcester and Nashua, New Hampshire. A through rail line was opened from Nashua to Portland, Maine, in 1874. The Boston & Maine Railroad took over the line in 1886, and called the through route the Worcester, Nashua & Portland (WN&P) Division. Between 1911 and 1912, a second track was built from Worcester through Ayer and Groton and up to Nashua. Some of the concrete signal bases can still be seen.

In 1929, the second track between Ayer, through Groton and up to Nashua was removed; passenger service between Worcester, Groton and Nashua ended in 1934. The track between Nashua and Hollis, New Hampshire, was finally abandoned in 1941, and the present route of the Nashua River Rail Trail was known as the Hollis Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad. In 1982, the last freight train ran on the line. The only segment of the old WN&P that still operates is the section that was built first, between Worcester and Ayer.

The Hollis Branch was purchased by the DCR (formerly DEM) in 1987, and Mass Highway completed the trail between 2001 and 2002. The Nashua River Rail Trail was officially opened and dedicated on October 25, 2002.

Things to know before you go?
There is water in front of the Groton Town Hall, close to the trail on Station Avenue. Non-flush public toilets are located at the trail head in Ayer. All users should yield to equestrians upon approach and give a clear voice warning before passing. No motorized vehicles are allowed. The rail trail is maintained by DCR in cooperation with local towns and volunteers.


Learn more here:
http://www.meetup.com/The-Foxboro-Cycling-Group/calendar/13242528/

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