I spent the final weekend of September covering 70+ miles on three rail trails. I’ve been on each before but this time I went out on my ElliptiGo (http://www.elliptigo.com/). It is gave me a different perspective than my usual one (running).
Nashua River Rail Trail - http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-central/nashua-river-rail-trail.html
I parked at the Northern end of the paved trail and road south to Ayer MA and back. The one-way distance was 12.3 miles. The surface is pretty good with just a few stretches that had frost heaves. There was some spectacular scenery along the way especially while passing through some protected areas in Groton MA. There was ample parking at both ends of the trail, but I was out just after sunrise. By the time I finished the Nashua parking lot was nearly full, a testament to how good this trail is.
Bruce Freeman Rail Trail - http://brucefreemanrailtrail.org/
I parked in Chelmsford at the big farm parking lot between the 5m and 6m mark of the trail. I got in a nice 13.6 mile ride by riding out/back to Westford and then out/back to Lowell. The section out to Westford had a bunch of road crossings but most of them are very small roads. The crossings are very well marked making the crossing a lot easier. The Westford part is also the most scenic passing Heart Pond on very smooth trail. The Lowell section was also well signed at crossings but there are a couple of bigger roads to cross (and Chelmsford Center where you are aided with stop lights). Interestingly you get to bike under both Route 495 and Route 3. There are huge parking lots at the farm and at the Lowell end of the trail.
Windham/Derry Rail Trail - http://www.windhamrailtrail.org/.
I parked at the Derry station end of the trail, which is right on route 102 in downtown Derry. The parking wasn’t specifically for the rail trail but it was signed for a maximum of two hours. There is also a big parking lot at the Windham Depot which is 3 miles south. I rode down to the end of the paved portion in Windham (6.5 miles one-way) and back twice for a nice 26 mile ride. The trail is in very good shape with very few frost heaves. It was pretty active at noon on a Saturday (which is great to see!) but can make biking fast a bit precarious. There are a number of scenic ponds along the route and only a couple of road crossings that could be marked better (two of them cross very active roads).