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Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail - Portsmouth Branch

A long stretch of former railroad that has been re-purposed for recreation, this rail trail winds through forests, along the shores of water bodies, and by historic railroad stations. 
Trail Activity
Length
28.1 miles, One Way
Difficulty
Easy, Moderate, Advanced
Towns
Auburn (NH), Candia (NH), Epping (NH), Manchester (NH), Newfields (NH), Raymond (NH)
Surface
Packed Earth/Dirt, Gravel/Crushed Stone/Cinder, Grass/Meadow, Woodchips, Sand
Pets
Permitted
Fees
No
Other Activities

Description

This rustic trail is rich in railroad structures left over from a time when the extensive Boston & Maine Railroad network flourished with the growth of New England mill towns. The Rockingham Recreational Trail follows the Portsmouth Branch. Much of the trail stretches through hardwood forests and near standing water bodies and bogs. The railbed rises above the forest floor at points, while other stretches thread through high-walled cuts blasted through New Hampshire's famous granite during the railroad's construction.

About 6.5 miles east of Tarrytown Road, there is a narrow culvert beneath a road, with limited overhead clearance. In East Candia, a historical marker denotes the site of the demolished railroad depot. From this point, the trail again plunges into secluded woodland.

In Raymond, the local historical society has restored the train station. The locomotive, caboose, boxcar, and work car sit between the trail and the station. Just beyond town, the trail crosses an impressive railroad bridge and returns to the wooded setting that is typical for most of the trail. The Newfields railroad depot marks the trail's eastern end.

Trail Manager

This trail is managed by the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation Bureau of Rail and Transit. For more information, please visit New Hampshire's Recreational Rail Trails online, or contact:

NH Bureau of Trails

NH Bureau of Trails
172 Pembroke Road
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 271-3254
nhtrails@dncr.nh.gov
View website

NH DOT - Bureau of Rail and Transit

NH DOT - Bureau of Rail and Transit
Room G25
JOM Building
PO Box 483 | 7 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03302-0483
Phone: (603) 271-2468
Bureau66@dot.nh.gov
View website

Trail Tips

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Stick to established trails and campsites. If there's no trail, try to walk on rock, gravel, or snow and spread out so that your group doesn't create a trail.
Legend
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Trailhead Information

Parking can be found along the length of the rail trail. Directions here are to the two parking areas nearest to Manchester and Newmarket.

Manchester: From the Manchester Post Office, turn left onto Elm Street and continue for 0.1 miles. Turn right onto Bridge Street and continue for 1.4 miles, then turn left onto I-93 south and continue for 0.4 miles. From the interstate, use the left lanes for Exit 7 to merge onto NH-101 East and continue for 1.5 miles. Take Exit 1, then turn right onto NH-28B, continue straight through the traffic circle then turn left into the park's parking lot.

Newmarket: From Newmarket, head south on Main Street. Turn slight left onto NH-108 South/Exeter Street and continue for 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Ash Swamp Road and continue for 0.2 miles then turn into the parking area on the right where the trailhead is located.

For other parking lots, please see the map above.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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