The Old Dublin Road to Eaton Road Rail Trail in Hancock, New Hampshire is an easy 1.4 to 4.7-mile out-and-back trail that features a beautiful railroad grade bed that's now used as a hiking trail. Please note that the "official" Old Dublin Road to Eaton Road Rail Trail is 0.7-miles long one-way - or 1.4-miles completed as an out-and-back hike. This trek continues along the railroad grade until it terminates at Jaquith Road before hiking back.
Trail name: Old Dublin Road to Eaton Road Rail Trail
Location: 92 Old Dublin Road, Hancock NH
Allowed activities: hiking, biking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, geocaching, nature study
Forbidden activities: No camping, no fires, no littering, no motorized vehicles
Hours: There are no hours posted at the trailhead kiosk
Fees and Parking: There are no fees to park or use the trail. Parking space is limited at the trailhead and cannot be guaranteed in winter.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trail and need to be on a leash at all times. Please carry out all dog waste.
Accessibility: This trail is not wheelchair accessible
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash bins at this trail head or along the trail. Please carry out what you carry in.
Length and Trail information: The "Official" length of this part of the old rail trail is .7 miles long and runs from Old Dublin Road, southward to Eaton Road and is done as an out and back hike. If hikers choose to, they can extend their hike and do this area as a loop, by turning Northwest onto Eaton Road and following that road in a Northwest direction until it intersects with Old Dublin Road and then heading eastward back toward the parking area. Hikers can also choose to do what we did, and extend the hike to roughly 4.5 mikes by going beyond the "Official" map and hike along the railroad bed until it terminates at Jaquith Road. There is an information Kiosk at the trailhead and there is a map posted as well as maps to take with you in a map box attached to the kiosk. The trail is wide and flat as most former railroad trails are, and is very easy to navigate. There are no trail markers or blazes to mark the trail, but they are not needed. There are no major hills or inclines and easy for all skill levels.
In early spring, the trail can get a bit wet, but the maintenance on the trail helps keep these areas to a minimum. This trail was once part of the Boston & Maine Railroad that traveled from Manchester NH to Keene NH. Along the trail visitors will be able to see old granite mile markers that report the distance between Nashua NH and Keene NH. There is a section of the trail, just after the beautiful trestle bridge, where wooden rail ties can still be seen protruding from the trail substrate. There are also a couple of fun, well maintained geocaches to find along this trail.
The trail travels through a mixed wood forest that is part of a Super Sanctuary. The Super Sanctuary is comprised of over 36,000 protected acres of land under the stewardship of the Harris Center for Conservation Education. In keeping with the Centers philosophy on protecting the land and wildlife visitors are required to keep dogs on a leash at all times. There is a warning posted at the kiosk that this area has a high incidence of Black Bear sightings. Bears can be attracted to the trail if there is a food source available. When dog owners leave dog waste behind, they may be unwittingly encouraging bears to come to the trail. PLEASE, do not leave dog waste along the trail.
While the official trail terminates at Eaton Road, the railroad bed continues until it meets with Jaquith Road. There is a metal gate across the trail at Eaton Road, but it is not posted as “No Trespassing” so we decided to explore as much of the rail trail as we could safely navigate. We saw no signs posted as we hiked. This part of our hike is not as wide, or well-maintained as the “official” trail. There were several areas that were quite wet, but still passable. The vegetation was also thicker in some spots, causing the trail to narrow down to a single footpath. It’s wise to always to a tick check after hiking, especially when vegetation gets thicker along the trail, and we had to remove ticks from ourselves after this hike.