Manhan Rail Trail Trail Description
The Manhan Rail Trail is a 4.2 mile multi-use recreational path, stretching from South Street in Easthampton, MA to Mt.
Tom Junction at the Route 5 CT River boat launch, with a connecting on-road bike lane to downtown Northampton. Ultimately,
the trail will link with the Norwottuck Trail to UMASS and Belchertown and to the Northampton Bike Path to Williamsburg. The
paved trail is being designed for use by bicyclists, walkers, joggers, roller-bladers, cross-country skiers, baby strollers,
After several years of trying, it looks like Easthampton will finally get the funding to extend the sourthern
end of the Rail Trail to Coleman Road. The southern section currently ends at South Street because asbestos-contaminated soil
prevented construction beyond that point. For the past two years, the City has applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency for funds to clean-up the site. The cost is estimated at $260,000. But in the meantime, Congressman John
Olver was able to secure federal transportation funds for clean-up and construction
of this nearly three-quarter mile section. The $750,000 appropriation will pay for the
removal of contamination, fencing, grading and construction of the trail. The City will work with the Massachusetts Highway
Department to complete the project in 2004. The MRT Committee is extremely grateful to Congressman Olver for his continued
support of this project.
Trails to Link
The Manhan Rail Trail will soon be linked to a Pascommuck Conservation Trust (PCT) nature trail. The E. Florence
Smith Nature Trail starts at the Old Pascommuck Conservation Area on East Street and intersects with the Rail Trail. Members
of the Trust plan to place a sign on the bike path inviting hikers to their trail. They will also install bicycle racks at
the intersection of the trails as well as at their East Street entrance. This will encourage cyclists to lock their
bikes and enjoy a nature hike along the Manhan River. Bicycles are not allowed on the nature trail because of the erosion
that they would cause. The bicycle racks are the familiar arch design that can be seen all around Easthampton and Northampton.
They have been obtained by the city for free from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission as a way to encourage bicycle use.
The PCT plans to have the signs and bicycle racks installed in time for the grand opening of the Manhan Rail Trail. See you
on the trails!
Skating for Dollars
Another successful skating fund raiser was held in February at the Williston Northampton Schools Lossone Rink.
Dozens of skaters turned out to get some excercise, have some fun and support the Manhan Rail Trail. More than $550 was raised.
A big round of applause to Williston for the use of their rink, and to Village Pizza for donating several delicious pizzas.
Bridging the Gap:
Since late last fall, the bridge over River Street (off of East Street) has been barricaded to users of the
path due to safety issues. On March 15th, the bridge was removed
by the Lane Construction company and transported to Salisbury, MA where it is being sandblasted and repainted. Lane
officials expect the bridge to be reinstalled by the end of March. Workers will then re-deck the bridge and install railings.
Weather permitting, paving of the bridge should be done by mid-May.
No Motorized Vehicles, Please
The Manhan Rail Trail is designed for walking, blading, cross country skiing and human-powered vehicles such
as bicycles and wheelchairs. Motorized vehicles are prohibited from the trail for the safety of the public. This is the case
for most rail trails around the country. There have been a number of sightings of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles
on the trail. Besides presenting safety hazard, ATVs have caused significant soil erosion in sensitive ecological areas adjacent
to the trail along the Manhan River. There will soon be a number of signs placed at strategic spots along the trail
reminding people that motorized vehicles are not allowed. We hope that the signs, combined with increased public education
and a high degree of legitimate trail use, will solve the problem. Studies have shown that one of the most effective methods
of reducing illicit trail activity is to increase public usage and visibility. The use of motorized vehicles on public
trails is an issue currently under study by our state environmental leaders. We hope that a reasonable compromise can be reached
to protect individual rights, public safety, and the environment.