Head to The Nashua River Rail Trail This Autumn

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You’ve checked the weather and it’s going to be a perfect autumn day. No rain in the forecast and just enough chill to wear a long sleeve shirt on your morning walk. But when you think of taking a stroll down your usual route, or hiking the same old trail you frequent, it is just not working out. It may even feel a bit boring and that’s not what a perfect autumn day deserves. 

If you’re looking for something different for your nature walk or run, consider the Nashua River Rail Trail. Open from sunrise to sunset, you can take the trail and enjoy a full day of exploring the area.  

Originally constructed in 1848, this railroad provided service to passengers and freight trains well into the 1900s before being abandoned for more direct railroads like the Ayer-Nashua line

It wasn’t until the  late 1980s that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management bought the all but abandoned railroad track. With much planning and consideration for the 12 mile route and its section going through Massachusetts, the Nashua Rail Trail that we know of today opened in 2002. 

While the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains and manages the trail, there is also a group called The Friends of the Nashua River Rail Trail who volunteer their time and energy to also preserve and improve the trail. They recently spent a day picking up debris and caring for the trail. 

Over the years, the path has been added to and enhanced by artwork and murals which bring in additional history about the surrounding area. Depending on where you decide to start on the trail, there is so much to see and do in the surrounding areas of the trail itself. 

Mass.gov has compiled a few ways to access the trail and where to park:

Parking areas for access to the trail are located in Ayer, Groton, and Dunstable. 

Ayer Center parking lot

For more information visit  https://www.ayer.ma.us/commuter-parking

Groton Center parking (Court Street 10-15 spaces)

Take I-495 north or south to exit 31, then Rte. 119 west approximately seven miles to Groton Center. Take left at Station Ave. to the on-street parking area beside the trail.

Groton Sand Hill Road parking (10-15 gravel spaces)

Take I-495 north or south to exit 31, then Rte. 119 west approximately ten miles. Take a right on Nod Road and right on Sand Hill Road. Follow Sand Hill Road to parking area on the right after crossing rail trail.

Dunstable state line parking (10 gravel spaces)

Take Rte. 3 to Exit 35, then Rte. 113 west beyond Dunstable Center. Take right on Hollis Street to New Hampshire state line. Parking is on the left.


Add the backdrop of beautiful foliage and the reds, oranges, and yellow leaves cascading down from the large trees lining the path, and your walk will take on a magical quality like no other. Built for biking, hiking, roller blading, and even some horseback riding paths — this trail offers enjoyment for any type of outdoor activity. 

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