Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:NH 28 Bypass/Londonderry Turnpike, Auburn NH
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Manchester North, Candia, and Mount Pawtuckaway quads

This idyllic bike path leads you past lakes and streams, and through dense forests in Manchester.

Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail is nestled in one of the more urban corridors of New Hampshire, connecting Manchester to Great Bay on the Seacoast. This segment offers excellent opportunities for biking, swimming, fishing, and wildlife observation. Since the trail runs so close to water, bring bug spray to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The surface of the path as you continue east is variable, so road bikes are not recommended past the first mile from the parking area on this route. Jogging-type strollers with large wheels should be fine, but leave the umbrella strollers at home. The trail is a fun challenge for anyone with mountain, touring, or just sturdy kids’ bikes.

From the parking area at Massabesic Lake, follow the bike path along the northern shore. While you may want to go for a dip here, this is the primary water supply for Manchester and swimming is not permitted. The trail winds peacefully along the northern shore for a mile or so, always with the lake in view.

The path continues east past the lake through forests and residential areas but crosses no major roads thanks to several tunnels. You do, however, cross dozens of tributary streams and skirt along the edge of multiple wetlands. Take your time and try sitting quietly along the shore to get the best view of the abundant wildlife. Loons populate these undeveloped shorelines, and ospreys visit in spring. Even bald eagles are known to winter near Massabesic Lake. The trail crosses a couple of ponds on causeways built for the railroad that once frequented this route and connected Portland, Manchester, Boston, and New York.

Onway Lake (10 miles from Lake Massabesic) is a turnaround point if you have the stamina for a 20-mile round-trip. There are good picnic and swimming spots here, and even a rope swing!

Plan B:

The nearby New Hampshire Audubon Massabesic Center in Auburn hosts nature programs, wildlife viewing, and a 5-mile network of trails on its lakeside property.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Elm Street in downtown Manchester has everything from Vietnamese and Ethiopian food to Irish pubs, so take a walk down here for a surprising eclectic dining scene. The nearby Golden Rod Drive-In on Candia Road has great ice cream.


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