Shared use paths

Mass Central Rail Trail and New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway

Northampton's shared use path network (bike paths and rail trails) is easily accessible to about 70% of Northampton's residents. We will continue to expand the network to serve more destinations and be accessible to 80% of our population. The trails are primarily ten feet-wide asphalt trails.

  • Mass Central Rail Trail: This will eventually extend 100 miles from Boston to Northampton. 6.9 miles of the trail is in Northampton.
  • New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway: This trail will eventually extend 90 miles from New Haven to Northampton. Four miles of the trail is in Northampton.
  • Rocky Hill Greenway will extend from the New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway to Sandy Hill Road, with some sections completed.
  • Northampton Connecticut River Greenway will extend from the Mass Central to Hatfield along the river. The section adjacent to Damon Road is currently under construction.

Shared use path responsibilities in Northampton are:
1. The Office of Planning & Sustainability plans and develops trails and assist in capital repairs and maintenance.
2. The Department of Public Works maintains most of the trails.
3. The Transportation and Parking Commission and its Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee advise in these areas.
4. The Massachusetts Depart. of Conservation and Recreation owns and maintains trail on east side of Ct. River railroad.
5. The shared use path adopt-a-trail program brings in volunteers to maintain sections of the trail.
6. A collaboration with Friends of Northampton Trails brings in the community for annual cleanups, fundraising, and other joint projects.

Shared use paths in Northampton
(by segment)
Mass Central Rail Trail100Downtown Northampton to Boston, with a branch to Haydenville- 
6.9 miles are in Northampton (all built)
Approximately 50% of the trail to Boston is complete
Ct. River Railroad to Conn. River
0.9State rail trail section in Northampton
Union Station state trail and to Haydenville town line
6DPW maintained, with planning assistance.
New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway90  Downtown Northampton to New Haven
3.5 miles are in Northampton (all built)
 (gaps remain)
NH & NH Canal Greenway
3.5Union Station to Easthampton town line
Hospital Hill Spur
0.5Earle Street to Mill River Greenway at Village Hill
Rocky HIll Greenway

2.9NH & NH Canal Greenway to Sandy Hill Road (eventually Florence Fields)- gaps remain

Rocky Hill Greenway
NH &NH to Ice Pond Drive (planned for 2022)
Ice Pond Drive to Florence Road (existing)
Florence Road to Burts Pit Road (planned for 2025)
Burts Pit Road to Overlook Dr. to Sandy Hill Road. (existing)
 Connecticut River Greenway 0Eventually Mass Central to Elm Court, Hatfield.

Bridge Street to Mass Central  (existing)
Mass Central to River Run, Damon Road (2021-2022)
Damon Road/River Run to Elm Court (in early planning states)

WalkBoston assumes that a healthy able person takes about 2 minutes to walk 1/10th of a mile. This is the calculation used in the wayfinding distance signs, designed by WalkBoston and posted in Northampton with a state and federal grant.

Trail etiquette

  • Alert others when passing
  • Stay to the right unless passing
  • Ride or rollerblade in single file
  • Stop and look both ways at road crossings
  • Please don’t litter: bring out what you bring in
  • Keep dogs on a leash and pick up waste
  • Wear a helmet (state law for bicyclists 16 and under)
  • Respect private property along the trail
  • Except for personal mobility devices, no unauthorized vehicles allowed on the trail

You can help:

1. Most important, ride and walk the trails and spread the word.
2. Consider how trails can be part of a strategy to reduce how often and how far you drive by yourself.
3. Sign up to volunteer and adopt a section of the trail to help with maintenance
4. Contribute financially to help:

  1. Checks to "City of Northampton" mailed to the Office of Planning & Sustainability. Note purpose of donation.
  2. Checks to "Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts-- Northampton Open Space and Bicycle Projects Fund" mailed to the Office of Planning & Sustainability. Note purpose of donation.
  3. Checks to "Friends of Northampton Trails." Note purpose of donation.

Also visit Friends of Northampton Trails (FNT) for overall information. A community member maintains a website about the Mass Central Rail Trail with details, documents, and maps.

For more maps, the FNT website has excellent trail maps and the State DCR has a Mass Central/Norwottuck Rail Trail Map (PDF)

Planning & Sustainability is always looking for arts to co-locate with trails. Past projects include:

  • Art installation on the rail trail bridge over Main Street (2012), designed to evoke activities along the rail trail (walking, bicycling, strolling, trains)
  • Wayfinding signage installed on art kiosks designed to reflect steel railroad bridge construction
  • A mileage marker program with historic mileage markers- mile 0 at Union Station, where all the trails connect and at the intersection of the state and city trails off King Street