Northampton Bike Paths

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and MassHighway are pleased to announce plans for rehabilitation of the oldest sections of the 11-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail, which extends from Northampton through Amherst, MA. Funding for the design comes from a state and federal partnership among DCR, MassHighway, and the Federal Highway Administration. Funding for the planned $4 million construction phase will come from federal and state funds set aside by Congressman John Olver in a federal transportation bill and by MassHighway. The design phase is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2009. MORE INFORMATION

The scope of work for upgrades and safety improvements includes:
  • An assessment of the environmental resources and pavement to determine the best method for replacing the existing trail surface.
  • An assessment of the existing plant communities and development of a Vegetation Management Plan to address invasive and hazard trees, prevent future tree root damage to pavement, and enhance and protect valuable habitat areas.
  • An evaluation of severe impacts to the trail embankment by beavers and development of a plan to address those impacts.
  • Public safety and universal access improvements to the trail.
  • Improvement in the condition of bridge decks, tunnels, and parking lots.
  • Identification and resolution of drainage and erosion problems.
  • Improvements to trail signage.

  • Norwottuck Rail Trail

    Norwottuck Rail Trail

    Damon Rd., Northampton
    413 586-8706 ext. 12

    The Norwottock Rail Trail is an 8.5 mile path linking Northampton, Hadley, and Amherst along the former Boston & Main Railroad right-of-way. The path's level terrain provides safe passage for pedestrians, wheelchairs, joggers, skaters, bicyclists, and cross-country skier of all ages and abilities. Motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited. Both ends of the path offer free parking for trail users – Elwell State Park on Damon Road in Northampton and Station Road in South Amherst. Public restrooms are available at the parking area at Elwell Recreation Area.

    The railroad was built in 1887 by the Central Massachusetts Railroad Company. It connected the City of Boston with the City of Northampton. Shortly after the railroad was completed, it was leased by the Boston and Maine Railroad Company and referred to as the Central Massachusetts Branch. By the 1920s there were three round trip passenger trains and numerous freight trains running between Boston and Northampton. As the automobile and trucking industries grew, railroads began to lose their importance. Passenger service continued until 1932 and freight service continued until 1979, primarily to deliver goods to the Farmer’s Supply warehouse in Amherst. The property was acquired by the DCR (formerly DEM) in 1985 and in 1993 was developed into a recreational trail. The rail trail was named Norwottuck at the suggestion of the Hadley Historical Commission. Historians believe that the Native Americans who lived here before the European settlers were called the Norwottucks. Translated, norwottuck means “in the midst of the river,” the Native American term for the entire area.

    Park Directions
    Norwottuck Rail Trail is located in the central part of western Massachusetts.
    From the east or west: Mass Pike (I-90) to exit 4, Rte 91 north to Rt 9 exit # 19. Through lights onto Damon Rd., parking at Elwell State Park on right. There is parking at both ends of the trail and on Route 9 in Hadley behind the Bread and Circus Market at the Mountain Farms Mall, at Station Road in Amherst and limited parking that provides wheelchair access at the junction of Mill Lane and Southeast Street in Amherst.