Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) In Massachusetts

Here is everything you need to know about the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section):

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Length: 5.3 miles.
  • Type: Biking.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Mass Central Rail Trail, Northampton Section, holds a significant place in the history of transportation and development in Massachusetts. The rail trail follows the path of the former Central Massachusetts Railroad, which was established in the mid-19th century. The railroad played a crucial role in connecting the bustling industrial cities of Northampton and Boston, facilitating the transportation of goods, people, and ideas.

The construction of the Central Massachusetts Railroad began in 1867 and was completed in 1873. The rail line quickly became a vital link between the agricultural and manufacturing regions of western Massachusetts and the economic hub of Boston. It allowed for the efficient transportation of goods such as textiles, lumber, and agricultural products, fueling the growth of industries along its route.

The rail line also played a significant role in the development of Northampton. The city’s economy thrived as it became a major transportation hub, attracting businesses and industries that relied on the railroad for their operations. The Central Massachusetts Railroad brought prosperity to the region, enabling Northampton to become a thriving center of commerce and trade.

However, with the decline of rail transportation in the mid-20th century, the Central Massachusetts Railroad ceased operations in 1958. The rail line was eventually converted into the Mass Central Rail Trail, preserving its historical significance while providing a recreational space for the community. Today, the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) serves as a reminder of the region’s rich transportation history and offers a scenic pathway for walkers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts to explore the area’s past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Northampton: The trail starts in Northampton near the intersection of Damon Road and King Street. There is a parking lot available for trail users.

2. Leeds: There is a trailhead in Leeds, located near the intersection of Haydenville Road and Main Street. Parking is available at the trailhead.

3. Williamsburg: The trail passes through Williamsburg, and there are multiple access points along the way. One popular access point is located near the intersection of Main Street and Old Goshen Road.

4. Haydenville: Another access point is in Haydenville, near the intersection of Main Street and Old Goshen Road. Parking is available nearby.

5. Williamsburg Center: The trail passes through Williamsburg Center, and there is a trailhead located near the intersection of Main Street and Old Goshen Road. Parking is available at the trailhead.

6. Chesterfield: The trail continues through Chesterfield, and there are access points along the way. One notable access point is located near the intersection of Main Road and Ireland Street.

7. West Chesterfield: The trail passes through West Chesterfield, and there is a trailhead located near the intersection of Main Road and Ireland Street. Parking is available at the trailhead.

8. Worthington: The trail continues through Worthington, and there are access points along the way. One access point is located near the intersection of Huntington Road and Old North Road.

9. Huntington: The trail passes through Huntington, and there are access points along the way. One access point is located near the intersection of Huntington Road and Old North Road.

10. Chester: The trail continues through Chester, and there are access points along the way. One access point is located near the intersection of Main Road and Middlefield Road.

11. Middlefield: The trail passes through Middlefield, and there are access points along the way. One access point is located near the intersection of Main Road and Middlefield Road.

12. Becket: The trail continues through Becket, and there are access points along the way. One access point is located near the intersection of Main Street and Depot Street.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Mass Central Rail Trail in the Northampton section. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. PVTA Bus Service – Local bus service connecting Northampton to nearby towns and cities.
2. Amtrak – National passenger rail service with a station in Northampton.
3. ValleyBike Share – Bike-sharing program offering convenient transportation options in Northampton.
4. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) Van Service – On-demand van service for individuals with disabilities.
5. Northampton Taxi – Local taxi service providing transportation in and around Northampton.
6. Zipcar – Car-sharing service with vehicles available for rent in Northampton.
7. Valley Transporter – Shuttle service offering transportation to and from airports, train stations, and other destinations.
8. Uber – Ride-hailing service connecting passengers with nearby drivers.
9. Lyft – Another ride-hailing service providing convenient transportation options in the area.
10. Valley Transporter – Private car service offering transportation to various locations in the region.


The amenities available at the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) include:

1. Restrooms: There are public restrooms available at various points along the trail, including at the trailheads and some designated rest areas.

2. Parking: There are parking lots available at several trailheads, providing convenient access to the trail. Some of the parking areas may have limited capacity, so it is advisable to arrive early during peak times.

3. Camping Sites: While camping is not permitted directly on the trail, there are nearby campgrounds and parks where you can set up camp. Examples include the Northampton/Springfield KOA Holiday and the DAR State Forest.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where you can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas often have picnic tables and benches for your convenience.

5. Bike Repair Stations: Some sections of the trail may have bike repair stations equipped with basic tools and air pumps. These stations are useful for minor repairs or adjustments to your bicycle.

6. Water Fountains: There are water fountains available at certain points along the trail, allowing you to refill your water bottles and stay hydrated during your journey.

7. Information Kiosks: Information kiosks can be found at various trailheads and key points along the trail. These kiosks provide maps, trail information, and safety guidelines for users.

8. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers several scenic overlooks where you can take in the beautiful surroundings and enjoy the natural landscapes.

9. Benches and Seating Areas: Benches and seating areas are placed at regular intervals along the trail, providing opportunities to rest, relax, and take in the views.

10. Dog-Friendly Areas: The Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) is dog-friendly, allowing you to bring your furry friends along for a walk or bike ride. However, dogs must be kept on a leash and owners are responsible for cleaning up after them.

Please note that amenities may vary along different sections of the trail, so it is advisable to check specific trail maps or local resources for more detailed information.

Nearby Services

1. Hotel Northampton – Historic hotel offering comfortable accommodations in downtown Northampton.
2. Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Northampton – Modern hotel with complimentary breakfast and an indoor pool.
3. Quality Inn & Suites Northampton – Affordable hotel with basic amenities and easy access to the rail trail.
4. Northampton Lodging – Cozy bed and breakfast located near the rail trail, offering a home-like atmosphere.
5. The Roost – Quaint guesthouse with comfortable rooms and a communal kitchen, perfect for budget travelers.
6. Northampton Brewery – Local brewpub serving craft beers and American fare in a casual setting.
7. Paul & Elizabeth’s – Vegetarian-friendly restaurant offering a diverse menu of globally-inspired dishes.
8. Fitzwilly’s – Lively American eatery known for its burgers, sandwiches, and pub-style atmosphere.
9. Sylvester’s – Family-friendly restaurant serving American comfort food, including burgers, salads, and seafood.
10. Coopers Corner – Convenience store and deli offering snacks, sandwiches, and basic groceries.
11. Northampton Police Department – Local law enforcement agency providing emergency services and assistance.
12. Cooley Dickinson Hospital – Full-service hospital equipped to handle medical emergencies and provide healthcare services.

Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) Difficulty Notes

The Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) offers a moderate difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 11 miles, providing a scenic and enjoyable experience for hikers, bikers, and runners. The terrain is mostly flat, making it accessible for all skill levels. However, there are some sections with slight inclines and uneven surfaces, which may require a bit more effort. Overall, the trail is well-maintained and offers a pleasant and manageable challenge for individuals seeking outdoor recreation in the Northampton area.

Features And Attractions

The Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and other points of interest. Here are some notable ones along the trail:

1. Northampton: The trail starts in Northampton, a vibrant city known for its arts scene, historic downtown, and beautiful Connecticut River views.

2. Connecticut River: As you follow the trail, you’ll have glimpses of the majestic Connecticut River, offering scenic views and opportunities for birdwatching.

3. Leeds: This village in Northampton features historic mill buildings and charming New England architecture.

4. Look Park: Located in Florence, Look Park is a picturesque recreational area with walking trails, picnic spots, a zoo, and a miniature train ride.

5. Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area: This natural area in Florence offers beautiful hiking trails, wetlands, and a serene lake.

6. Williamsburg: As you continue along the trail, you’ll reach the town of Williamsburg, known for its rural charm and historic buildings.

7. Mill River: The trail follows the Mill River for a stretch, providing scenic views of the river and its surrounding landscape.

8. Haydenville: This village in Williamsburg features historic buildings, including the Haydenville Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

9. Williamsburg Reservoir: Located near the trail, the Williamsburg Reservoir is a peaceful spot for fishing, kayaking, or simply enjoying the natural beauty.

10. Goshen: The trail passes through Goshen, a small town known for its scenic beauty, including the nearby DAR State Forest and the Highland Pond Conservation Area.

These are just a few highlights along the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section). As you explore the trail, you’ll likely discover many more scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the way.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
– Bicycles and pedestrians have the right of way.
– Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– Camping and open fires are prohibited.
– Hunting and fishing are not permitted.
– Littering is strictly prohibited.
– Use of the trail is allowed from dawn to dusk.
– No motorized or electric scooters are allowed.
– No skateboarding or rollerblading is allowed.
– No horseback riding is allowed.
– No unauthorized commercial activities or events are allowed.
– No alcohol or illegal substances are allowed on the trail.
– No amplified music or excessive noise is allowed.
– No unauthorized signage or advertisements are allowed.
– No damage or removal of trail infrastructure or natural resources is allowed.
– No swimming or wading in bodies of water along the trail.
– No feeding or disturbing wildlife.
– No unauthorized camping or overnight stays.
– No unauthorized motorized or non-motorized vehicles on the trail.
– No unauthorized trail modifications or construction.
– No unauthorized use of drones or other aerial devices.
– No unauthorized use of firearms or weapons.
– No unauthorized use of fireworks or explosives.
– No unauthorized use of drones or other aerial devices.
– No unauthorized use of firearms or weapons.
– No unauthorized use of fireworks or explosives.

Seasonal Information

The Mass Central Rail Trail, specifically the Northampton section, offers a delightful experience for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. However, certain times of the year are particularly favorable for visiting this scenic trail. Spring, from April to June, is a fantastic time to explore the trail as the weather is mild, and the surrounding landscape bursts with vibrant colors. The trail is adorned with blooming wildflowers, and the trees are lush and green, creating a picturesque setting for hikers, cyclists, and nature lovers.

Summer, from July to August, is another popular time to visit the Mass Central Rail Trail. The warm weather allows visitors to fully enjoy the trail’s amenities, such as picnic areas, rest stops, and scenic viewpoints. The trail is often bustling with activity during this time, as families, friends, and tourists take advantage of the longer daylight hours and pleasant temperatures.

It’s important to note that the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton section) may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, from December to February, some sections of the trail may be closed due to snow accumulation or icy conditions, which can make it unsafe for visitors. It’s advisable to check with local authorities or trail management before planning a visit during this time.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the trail may experience occasional closures or detours for maintenance or construction purposes. These closures are typically temporary and aim to improve the trail’s infrastructure and safety. Visitors are encouraged to stay updated with any announcements or notifications regarding closures to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Overall, the Mass Central Rail Trail’s Northampton section offers a diverse and captivating experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the lively atmosphere of summer, or the tranquility of fall, this trail is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, providing easy access for individuals with mobility challenges.
2. Accessible Trail Entrance: The trail entrance is designed to be accessible, featuring a smooth and level surface for wheelchair users to enter the trail.
3. Paved Surface: The trail is paved, ensuring a smooth and even surface for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
4. Wide Pathways: The trail offers wide pathways, allowing ample space for wheelchair users to pass by or travel alongside others.
5. Rest Areas with Benches: Along the trail, there are rest areas equipped with benches, providing opportunities for individuals to take a break and rest if needed.
6. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available near the trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities have convenient facilities.
7. Signage: The trail features clear and visible signage, including accessible signage, to assist individuals with disabilities in navigating the trail.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to be accessible, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor dining experiences.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available along the trail, ensuring individuals can stay hydrated during their journey.
10. Accessible Trail Exits: The trail exits are designed to be accessible, providing wheelchair users with a smooth and safe transition off the trail.

Safety Information

When visiting the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section), it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay on the designated trail: Stick to the marked path and avoid venturing off into unauthorized areas. Straying from the trail can lead to potential hazards and trespassing on private property.

2. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and watch out for other trail users, including cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians. Always yield to faster-moving users and be cautious when passing or overtaking others.

3. Respect trail etiquette: Follow the posted rules and regulations, such as keeping pets on a leash, cleaning up after them, and disposing of waste properly. Additionally, avoid excessive noise and be considerate of other visitors’ enjoyment of the trail.

4. Use appropriate safety gear: If cycling, wear a properly fitted helmet and use reflective gear or lights to enhance visibility, especially during low-light conditions. Pedestrians should also consider wearing bright or reflective clothing to increase visibility.

5. Stay hydrated and carry essentials: Bring enough water to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather. It is also advisable to carry a small first aid kit, a cell phone for emergencies, and any necessary medications.

6. Be cautious at road crossings: The Mass Central Rail Trail may intersect with roads at various points. Always approach road crossings with caution, obey traffic signals, and yield to oncoming vehicles. Look both ways before crossing and ensure it is safe to proceed.

7. Be mindful of weather conditions: Check the weather forecast before heading out and dress accordingly. In inclement weather, such as heavy rain or snow, it may be best to postpone your visit to the trail for safety reasons.

8. Stay on designated bridges and structures: When crossing bridges or other structures along the trail, ensure you remain on the designated path. Avoid climbing or leaning over railings, as this can be dangerous.

9. Carry identification and emergency contact information: It is always a good idea to have identification on you, along with emergency contact information. In case of an accident or emergency, this information can be crucial for first responders.

10. Report any safety concerns: If you notice any safety hazards, such as damaged trail surfaces, fallen trees, or suspicious activities, report them to the appropriate authorities or trail management organizations. Your vigilance can help maintain a safe environment for all visitors.

Remember, safety is paramount when enjoying outdoor recreational activities. By following these guidelines, you can have a pleasant and secure experience on the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section).

Conservation Notes

The Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the natural environment and biodiversity of the region. As a rail trail, it follows the path of the former Massachusetts Central Railroad, which has been transformed into a recreational trail for public use. The conservation status of this trail is of utmost importance to ensure the protection and sustainability of the surrounding ecosystems.

The Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) is recognized as a conservation area due to its contribution to the preservation of wildlife habitats and the promotion of ecological connectivity. The trail passes through diverse landscapes, including wetlands, forests, and meadows, providing a range of habitats for various plant and animal species. These habitats support a rich biodiversity, including numerous bird species, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Efforts have been made to maintain and enhance the conservation status of the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section). Conservation organizations and local authorities work together to manage invasive species, control erosion, and protect sensitive areas along the trail. Additionally, educational programs and interpretive signage are implemented to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and encourage responsible use of the trail.

Overall, the conservation status of the Mass Central Rail Trail (Northampton Section) is actively monitored and managed to ensure the long-term protection of its natural resources and ecological values. By preserving this trail, not only are the habitats and species within it safeguarded, but the community also benefits from the recreational opportunities and the chance to connect with nature in an environmentally sustainable manner.

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