The Northampton Rail Trail System is a hub and spoke multi use paved trail network with its hub behind 203 King Street (Taco Bell / KFC) in Northampton MA. This network has connecting trails to Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Florence, Hadley, Southampton, and Williamsburg.
Names of segments over time include the Northampton Bikeway, the Norwottuck Rail Trail, the Manhan Rail Trail, the New Haven and Northampton Canal Rail Trail, and the Mass Central Rail Trail. From any starting location, riding the entire network out and back is 52 miles. A highlight is the 1600’ bridge across the Connecticut River, seen in the image above.
Three Spokes of the Northampton Rail Trail System
East: Hadley, Amherst, Belchertown
This leg features beautiful views of Hadley farmland, including plots under cultivation for hundreds of years. The historic Hadley Common is bisected by the rail trail near a historical marker stone. The Holyoke Range can be seen to the south on the way to Amherst, with rail trail access to UMass Amherst and Amherst College. Near the end of the paved trail is a large beaver dam complex and wetlands, popular with bird watchers. This leg of the rail trail is mostly shaded. From the hub in Northampton to the terminus at Belchertown’s Warren Wright Road is 22 miles round trip. This spoke of the rail trail is part of the Mass Central Rail Trail, which when complete will connect all the way to Boston.
Southwest: Easthampton, Southampton
This section passes through downtown Northampton, then behind Smith College, and past the Eastworks recovered mill complex filled with shops, restaurants, breweries, and a bike shop. It includes the Manhan Oxbow segment, with great views of the Oxbow section off of the Connecticut River. This spoke of the rail trail is the most sun exposed. From the hub in Northampton to the terminus at Southampton’s Coleman Road (including the Manhan Oxbow segment) is 20 miles round trip. This section of the rail trail awaits a new 8 mile connection to Westfield MA, where a rail trail currently connects all the way to the Yale campus in New Haven CT.
Northwest: Florence, Look Park, Williamsburg
This section starts off gently uphill, soon showing a nice wetland and bird watching spot off to the right behind the Stop’n Shop. The longest and highest viaduct of the Northampton Rail Trail System is on this leg. The trail passes through the popular Look Park. Beyond Look Park, the trail parallels the historic Mill River for about a mile. This spoke of the rail trail is mostly shaded. From the hub in Northampton to the terminus at Williamsburg’s South Main Street is 10 miles round trip.
Many E-bike Rental Locations
E-bikes are available at 13 rental locations on or near the rail trail network, available April through November. These 13 rental stations are identified on the map with a blue bike icon. Dozens more rental locations are distributed across local surrounding communities. The ValleyBike system allows you to rent an e-bike as needed using an app on your phone.
Seven Bike Shops
There are seven bike shops on or near the trail system. They can be identified on the map by an orange circle icon with a white bike in it.