Rail trails are multi-purpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. They are typically flat or follow a gentle grade. Ideal for many uses, rail trails are extremely popular as recreation and alternative transportation corridors. Rail trails also serve as conservation corridors, linking isolated parks and natural areas, and creating greenways through developed areas. They are often used to help preserve historic landmarks.
The trail follows the former Boston & Maine railroad right of way from the Piscataquog River near the Main Street bridge in Goffstown village, through Grasmere and the county complex, to the Manchester city line near Sarette Field in Pinardville. It runs roughly parallel to Mast Road and the Piscataquog River. In 2015 a connection was made to the Piscataquog Trail in Manchester when they installed a new bridge over the Piscataquog River.
The town of Goffstown. The land was purchased in 2004. A grant from the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program provided 80% of the money and the town residents approved a warrant article in the March 2001 election, which provided the other 20%.
It is about 5.5 miles from the western end in Goffstown village to the Manchester city line. The Piscataquog Trail extends another two miles eastward into downtown Manchester.
Yes! About half of the trail has been fully constructed, and clearing and smoothing has been done in other areas. The trail is useable on foot or bicycle, though additional care should be taken in unfinished areas. (Areas of the trail where construction has not yet occurred have variable surface conditions, including grass, packed dirt, loose sand and gravel, tree roots, rocks, and other uneven surfaces.) Less experienced bicyclists and younger kids may be better off sticking to finished trail areas.
Walking, running, bicycling, skiing, and snowshoeing are allowed. Pets are required to be leashed while on the trail. (Please pick up after them.)
Town ordinance forbids motorized vehicles (including OHRVs and snowmobiles), inline skating, scooters, horses, hunting, dumping or littering, and alcoholic beverages on the trail. Please keep off private property along the trail.
Though the trail is still being developed, there are some parking areas that can be used for rail trail access. See this page for more information.
A good place to start is to become a member of the FGRT. (See our membership page). Attend our monthly meetings, 4th Tuesday of February through November at Parks & Rec. Come lend a hand at monthly trail work sessions. Help out with other volunteer opportunities, such as promotional events, contributing to publications, and participating on special teams and committees. Watch the FGRT home page for announcements and information on how you can participate, or join the FGRT .
The town completed a survey of the trail corridor, and a preliminary engineering design in 2007. The first construction took place in 2008, and several more projects have been completed since then. Additional trail segments and facilities will be constructed as funding can be obtained. A final completion date is difficult to estimate, as it depends on the availability of future grants and other funding. Approximately half of the trail length has been completed to date (including 0.3 mile on East Union Street), leaving about 2.8 miles yet to be done.
The majority of trail funding so far has come from federal and state grants, with additional assistance from corporate grants and private donations. Federal and state grants typically require a 20% match. That match may be partially or completely covered with in-kind materials and labor provided by the town, or by donors and volunteers. (Please us if you would like to help, or make a donation here.) Grants from corporate and other organizations may have varying matching requirements.
Construction costs can vary significantly, depending on design decisions that are made. Through the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Recreation Trails Program grants, the 2010 Transportation Enhancement grant, and a few smaller grants and donations a total of about $999,500 ($776,000 of that from grants) has been spent or allocated to develop 2.5 miles of the trail. The remaining 2.8 miles is estimated to require $330,000 if the remaining sections were to be completed under a single contract in the near future. However, if construction were to be stretched out over many years, the future dollar value would be significantly higher. There may be additional costs if further enhancements are desired beyond the initial completion.
Town trail standards call for a ten-foot wide "nitpack" gravel surface, with three-foot wide shoulders. There are no current plans to pave the trail. The gravel surface can serve as a base for paving, should the town decide to do so in the future.
Yes! Public involvement is important to the success of the rail trail development. There have been meetings and hearings at various steps in the process for gathering feedback from the public, and more will follow. The town's Rail Trail Steering Committee meetings are open to the public. (See the town website for more information.) You can also become involved with the FGRT. (Please us.)
As the owner of the rail trail, the town is ultimately responsible for its management and maintenance. The Dpaertment of Public Works is primarily responsible for managing construction projects. The Parks & Recreation Department manages maintenance of completed sections of the trail. The FGRT continues to assist with trail maintenance and clean up, as well as grant applications and other trail projects. You are encouraged to volunteer and help out too. See the FGRT website for more information, or us.
The vast majority of trail users are law-abiding citizens not interested in trespassing. Straying onto private property is usually accidental, and is reduced where there is a clear trail boundary. Trail signs remind users to respect private property. If you experience trespassing problems, call the police.
According to a National Park Service study, most adjacent owners experience a minimal loss of privacy from the establishment of a rail trail. Rail trails often already have established trees and shrubs along much of their edges. In some cases, adjacent landowners have already taken steps to ensure their privacy from trains, their crews, and other former corridor users. Trail design specifications call for additional vegetative screening to be added to the trail corridor in a number of areas to protect privacy. Fencing is expensive and not usually necessary, although some landowners do erect fences, often with a gate so they can access the trail. The design process of the trail has included meetings with adjacent property owners and residents to address their concerns.
There is no evidence that developed rail trails cause an increase in crime. In fact, trail development may actually decrease the risk of crime in comparison to an abandoned and undeveloped rail corridor. Several studies show that most people prefer living along a rail trail rather than an abandoned corridor. Typically, lawful trail users serve as eyes and ears for the community, discouraging unlawful activity. Police patrols are also conducted on the trail to discourage illegal activities and uses.
From studies of existing trails reported by the National Trail Conservancy, 64% of adjacent landowners believe that the trail has no effect on the resale value, with 28% believing that the land value increased as a result of the trail. 71% of realtors and appraisers believe that the trail has no effect on adjacent residential property with 19% believing that the property value increases. On well-used rail trails, it is common to find property "for sale" signs not just in front of a property, but also facing the trail, in order to catch the attention of trail users who highly value having immediate access to a trail system.