Norwottuck Rail Trail
|Norwottuck Rail Trail|
Looking east from the western trail head
|Length||11 mi (18 km)|
|Location||Northampton, Massachusetts to Belchertown, Massachusetts|
|Use||Hiking, bicycling, roller blading, and cross country skiing|
|Sights||beaver pond near the eastern end with various birds and other critters, former rail bridge|
The Norwottuck Rail Trail, which is formally known as the The Norwottock Branch of the Mass Central Rail Trail , is a 11-mile (18 km) combination bicycle/pedestrian paved right-of-way running from Northampton, Massachusetts, through Hadley and Amherst, to Belchertown, Massachusetts. It opened in 1992.
This trail is used by bicyclers, rollerbladers, and hikers. Both recreational and commuter traffic occurs here.
Sights to see include the Norwottuck Rail Trail Bridge over the Connecticut River. The beaver pond near the eastern end of the trail is host to a number of different kinds of birds including great blue heron and various woodpeckers, as well as ducks, turtles, and various other critters.
The trail has been extended to the east approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) and currently ends at Warren Wright Road south of North Road and north of Wilson Road. A westward extension from Damon Road to Woodmont Road in Northampton opened in 2007. The trail ends close to the Northampton Bikeway, which runs from the other side of King Street to Florence and Look Park. Construction of a rail with trail project southward to downtown Northampton and Easthampton (to connect with the Manhan Rail Trail) is in the planning stages, as is a tunnel underneath the active rail line to join with the Northampton Bikeway. There are various other possible connections being considered, such as a connection to the Canalside Rail Trail.
The trail has degraded over time. One aspect of the problem is that the original pavement was an attempt at being "green", and incorporated crushed used glass bottles as part of its aggregate. This material has been slowly emerging over time, causing flat tires and other issues.
Specifics of the reconstruction plan include widening the trail from its current 8 feet (2.4 m) to 10 feet (3.0 m) to better accommodate busy traffic, especially on weekends, since widening would lessen the impact of traffic as on any other kind of road. After being under discussion for several years, the $4 million reconstruction project got underway in August 2013 with work expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
- The Mass Central Rail-Trail
- Flynn, Jack (May 10, 2008). "Bike trail falls into disrepair". The Republican (MassLive LLC). Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- Crowley, Dan (July 24, 2013). "Norwottuck Rail Trail reconstruction in Hadley begins, trail sections closing". Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA). Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Norwottuck Rail Trail - Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
- Official Norwottuck Rail Trail Map
- Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways