Loop Trail? No
Type: Rail Trail
Agency: City, Town, or County
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No Allowed Uses:
Bicycling (on pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Snow - Snowshoeing
Location: In Easthampton, Massachusetts, connecting Easthampton to network of trails in Northampton, Hadley, Leeds and Amherst, Massachusetts.
Counties: The trail lies entirely within Hampshire County
From Springfield and points south, take Rt. 91 north to Rt. 141 west to Easthampton. From Northampton and points north, take Rt. 5 south or Rt. 10 south.
Nestled in the heart of the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, Easthampton’s six-mile long Manhan Rail Trail offers unique recreational opportunities to people of all ages and interests. Of national significance are the views of both the majestic Holyoke Range and the Connecticut River Oxbow.
Also significant is the rich history of rail traffic in this old “mill town” once serviced by the New Haven Railroad’s Canal Division and the Mt. Tom branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad. A unique historic marker on the trail illustrates the old rail station in downtown Easthampton.
The rail beds were abandoned in 1992 followed by a grassroots effort to convert those beds into rail trails for recreation. With overwhelming support from the business community, local officials, bike enthusiasts and residents, the first section of the Manhan Rail Trail was opened in 2004. Two additional sections were completed in 2010 and 2011.
One of the new sections connects the Manhan Rail Trail to a large network of trails in Northampton, Leeds, Hadley and Amherst. This network will eventually connect with trails in other communities stretching east to Boston (Mass Central Rail Trail) and south to New Haven (the New Haven & Northampton Canal Rail Trail).
Highlights of the trail include the adjacent Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, several Pascommuck Conservation Trust areas and nearby, the picturesque Nashawannuck Pond in downtown Easthampton. Also downtown on the trail is a large-scale mural created through the Arts Projects on Millennium Trails Program resulting in a Massachusetts Millennium Legacy Trail designation. The Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail, a supporting 501C-3, has partnered with the local arts community to plan music and art projects and events along the trail.
The trail also was a catalyst for the revitalization of an adjacent mill complex which now houses restaurants, artist studios and apartments. It also spurred the development of a city park next to the trail, Millside Park. The park features a bandshell, exercise equipment and restrooms and is used for concerts, family movie nights and other community events.
The trail is also a favorite location for All Out Adventures, which provides adaptive bikes and other equipment to encourage outdoor recreation for people of all abilities. The Manhan Rail Trail is accessible with a maximum 5% grade and is frequented by persons in wheelchairs and mobility assistance motorized scooters.
The trail is well marked with signage and kiosks at trail heads and other key points and includes mile markers. The kiosks contain maps, rules and regulations and trail etiquette.
While the Manhan Rail Trail is owned by the City of Easthampton, it is managed by the Manhan Rail Trail Committee, members of which are appointed by the mayor. The committee uses funds including donations and a small stipend from the city to pay for professional maintenance. Volunteer labor is used for smaller projects.
Like many other rail trails, the Manhan provides a safe place to bike, run, walk, roller blade or cross-country ski. Health conscious individuals use the trail for exercise. The trail is a favorite of families and seniors. Students from nearby schools use the trail regularly. It is also used by commuters and others who choose to travel without using fossil fuels.
Trail users may be a diverse group but they have a common interest - to enjoy and benefit from the Manhan Rail Trail.
Width: 120 inches.
Primary Surface: Asphalt
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: 118
Elevation High Point: 196
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2020
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
City of Easthampton’s Manhan Rail Trail Committe
50 Payson Avenue
Easthampton, MA 01027
(413) 529-1400, ext. 460
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