Join NH Rail Trails Coalition, Get Guidebook as Bonus

My appreciation for New Hampshire’s rail trails is expressed all over this blog, as many readers have found. Now, the New Hampshire Rail Trails Coalition is offering a deal that I hope will win the trails some new fans.

Until December 15, 2020, you can join the NHRTC ($20 for a one-year membership for individuals, $35 for organizations) and receive a copy of Charles Martin’s guidebook New Hampshire Rail Trails, 2nd edition at no additional charge. There’s no better guide to the trails around the state, with more than 100 maps along with photographs and trail descriptions.

Want to take a crack the the Rail Trails Challenge? Martin’s book and the Challenge’s Facebook page (private, but anyone may request access) will be your new best friends. Meet the Challenge, earn a patch. Even if you don’t travel on all the rail trails in the state – and as someone who does a lot more walking than biking, I know the Challenge can be a slow process – you’ll have memories and experiences that are way more valuable than a patch, even a pretty one like this.

emblem of New Hampshire Rail Trails Challenge
Patch awarded for completion of NH Rail Trails Challenge

If you already have Martin’s book, maybe there’s a Granite State walker in your life who would love to receive a copy as a gift. Another gift idea: separately from membership, the Coalition also offers a hat for $20 (shipping included).

New Hampshire Rail Trails Coalition hat and book

Full disclosure: I’m on the NHRTC board, but I get no personal benefit from this promotion except the pleasure of knowing that it will encourage more people to value a New Hampshire recreational resource.

New Hampshire Rail Trail Challenge Update

Here’s a Zoom meeting worth going online for. The New Hampshire Rail Trails Coalition (of which I’m now a board member) invites you to a Rail Trail Challenge Update on Monday, November 23, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The online event is free, but registration is necessary.

If you’ve been enjoying the Rail Trail Challenge, or if you’ve never heard of it and would like to know more, c’mon in.

Guest speaker will be Charles Martin, author of the New Hampshire Rail Trails guidebook now in its second edition. There will be time for questions and answers. I also hope to hear some trail reports and stories from Challenge participants.

See you then. In the meantime, you can learn more about NHRTC by checking out its website.

bicyclist on rail trail in forest
A bicyclist enjoys the Presidential Rail Trail in Gorham, NH. Ellen Kolb photo.

3 Favorite New Hampshire Trail Guides

Afew favorites from my bookshelf. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

A few favorites from my bookshelf. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

I collect as much information as I can about New Hampshire’s parks and trails. From a thick binder filled with loose maps to my Randolph Trails book with its still-intact spine, I think I have the state covered. I have three books in particular to which I keep returning. Let me tell you about them, and I hope you’ll comment about your own favorite guides.

Hiking the Monadnock Region by Joe Adamowicz, second edition. There’s at least one newer edition in print, but there’s no way I’ll give up the one I’ve got. My scribbling fills the margins, with my remarks about conditions as I found them supplementing the author’s own excellent text. The 30 hikes described in the book have taken me from Hinsdale to Amherst over the years. The longest hike, rated at about three and a half hours, is Marlboro Trail on Mount Monadnock. There are plenty of shorter and flatter excursions listed, and it’s great to see so many Forest Society and NH Audubon properties highlighted. The black-and-white maps in the book can be unclear, especially where contour lines are close together. Supplementing them with maps from another source is a good idea. I’ve done some of these hikes a dozen times; they’re like old friends I keep going back to visit. (New England Cartographics, ISBN 1-889787-07-8)

50 Hikes North of the White Mountains by Kim Nilsen. This one’s practically hot off the presses, just published last year. It brings into one place information about a number of hikes I’d like to take someday. I met the author, Kim Nilsen, about five years ago as I began to investigate the Cohos Trail. He’s spent the last three decades developing that trail and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm about the North Country with anyone who’s interested. With this book, he puts it together. He has a distinctive voice, and he writes with tremendous affection for northern New Hampshire. I’ve taken a few of these hikes, but most are on my “someday” list. This is a book that lends itself to daydreams and plans. (The Countryman Press, ISBN 978-0-88150-972-4)

New Hampshire Rail Trails by Charles F. Martin. This is an encyclopedic guide. Nothing else comes close to compiling so much information about recreational rail trails in this area. Photographs are plentiful, and the reference maps are useful (but should be supplemented in the field). I like the brief history he includes with each trail description. I have found his ratings of scenery and trail surfaces to be accurate. He mentions the agencies that maintain each line, so if I want updated information about a particular trail, I know where to start making inquiries. (Branch Line Press, ISBN 978-0-942147-10-0)

I should mention that I bought all of these at Toadstool Bookshop in Milford. I’m sure they’re available online as well, but throw some business to your local bricks-and-mortar bookstore if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby.

Let me know where you get your own trail information. You might give me some good ideas.

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A Country Road and a Fine New Book

After an all-day hard rain yesterday that delayed the Red Sox opener and left my local trails even muddier than before, I decided to take my walk on a road this morning. After doing some business in Amherst, I parked on Chestnut Hill Road, in the little pull-off that connects to the Joe English Reservation’s Highland Trail. One glance at the trail confirmed my guess that it was not a day for slogging through the woods in my sneakers. I headed up the road towards New Boston.

It’s a treat to have an hour in the middle of a weekday to spend on a country road in early spring. Next to no traffic passed me. The trees haven’t leafed out yet, so I got a good look at all the songbirds making music. Overcast was lifting, giving me a different view on the way back than I got on the way out of the Uncanoonucs in Goffstown and the hills out past Milford. Forsythia is about a week away from bloom, and daylily shoots are popping up all along the roadside.

Tree damage was obvious in the woods. I expect some of the houses & yards I passed needed quick action the week after the ice storm, but they look fine.

I gave a halfhearted effort at making this a workout, to compensate for my sluggish winter, but I abandoned that plan about five minutes into the walk. It was uphill, and that’s workout enough. I turned around at the New Boston town line & enjoyed going downhill on my way back to the car. Not a bad way to spend an hour — closer to 50 minutes, actually. I went back to the day’s “serious” work in a good frame of mind.

To change the subject, I found a great new book while I was browsing the table from Bondcliff Bookstore (Littleton, NH) at the recent Made In NH Expo. New Hampshire Rail Trails (there’s an easy title to remember) is by Charles F. Martin, and it’s published by Branch Line Press in Pepperell, MA. It’s going right on my shelf full of guidebooks, and will probably be in my backpack on several trips this year. He covers trails all over the state, offering the history of the various rail lines and the prospects for development of more trails. It’s not an encyclopedia, but he manages to cover quite a bit in 300 pages, including maps and a long list of organizations supporting these trails. Development of some trails is proceeding so quickly that even some of Martin’s 2008 information is outdated, but that’s hardly bad news and Martin notes which trails are likely to see extension or upgrading in the near future.

I’m delighted with this book. I’ve already made note of a trail he describes up in Bethlehem. I have a racewalk in that pleasant town next weekend, and I’ll head for the trail as soon as the race is over.