5.6 Miles
Time to Hike:
2 hours, ~48 minutes
Surface Type:
Keene, New Hampshire
42.91476, -72.25321
July 09, 2019
July 09, 2019

The Cheshire Rail Trail in Keene, New Hampshire is an easy 5.6-mile out-and-back trail that runs parallel to Highway 12.

Trail name: Cheshire Rail Trail, Keene NH

Location: This section of the trail runs from Marlborough Street (Route 101) near the Stone Arch Bridge to Forbush Brook in Keene NH.

Allowed activities: walking, hiking, geocaching, picnicking, horseback riding, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, bicycling, bird watching, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.

Forbidden activities: No motorized vehicles, No fires, and No camping.

Hours: Trails are open daily from dusk to dawn.

Fees and Parking: There are no fees to park or use the rail trail. There is limited parking as this area is not a big lot, almost slightly wider than parking along the street.

Pets: Dogs are permitted, but must be on a leash. Dog waste must be picked up and removed from the trail.

Accessibility: This section of the Cheshire Rail Trail was not wheelchair accessible but only because of starting at the Stone Arch Bridge parking area. The trail crosses over several residential roads and a different starting/ending point may allow easier access.  The entrance and exit over the Stone Arch Bridge has very steep with a very loose gravel substrate. Small lightweight strollers would probably be able to access the trail from here without too much trouble.

Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash receptacles.

Warning: Extreme caution needs to be taken near the sides of this bridge as there are no protective railings to keep visitors from falling into the Ashuelot River bed below. PLEASE keep hands on children and animals, as a fall from this bridge most likely prove to be fatal. There is supposed to be a geocache hidden here, however it does not appear to be well maintained and could possibly be missing.

Length: This hike is an easy 5.6 mile hike (round trip) that goes out and back.

Trail features and information: At the Stone Arch Bridge parking area there is an educational sign with very limited information about the bridge. The bridge was built in 1847 and was designed by railway engineer Lucian Tilton. The bridge has an approximate span length of 90 feet and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

The trail runs parallel to Highway 12. There is no trail map or any trail information posted at this trail head. The trail is marked with a blue diamond; however, the trail is easy to follow since it is straight and flat and follows the old railroad track, which is wide and flat in most areas. The substrate is a gravel base, some sandy patches as well as occasional jutting rocks and protruding tree roots. For the most part the footing along the trail is not difficult at all. One nicer part of the trail is where the railroad was cut through a large section of granite. The side walls are high and fern covered, making a shady cool corridor to travel through with tiny trickles of water seeping from the rocks on either side. There are sections where visitors will want to travel single file due to the tall grasses that have grown up along the trail. There is little indication that anyone or any group is maintaining this Rail Trail. The pathway is kept worn down by bicycles and limited foot traffic. The trail passes over several streets and even some private homes or business driveways. Some of the properties that abut the trail appear to be abandoned and in disrepair. Use caution when crossing roads to the next gate of the rail trail.

There is a growing popularity for Rail Trails across the United States, but sadly the communities along this section of Rail Trail have not taken full advantage of this asset that is “literally” in their own back yard. These towns have not fully comprehended the economic and social benefits that a safe and well maintained Rail Trail can bring to its population. Some attention and funding will be needed to help this part of the Rail Trail reach its full potential as a safe avenue of travel and recreational activities for the residents and tourists alike.

Explore 80 trails near Keene, NH


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333 '

Total Change
686 '

613 '

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5.6 miles
Trail added
July 09, 2019
Updated on
July 09, 2019

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