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Sugar River Recreation Trail

New Hampshire Rail Trails
Dartmouth / Lake Sunapee Region

Historic

Trail Description
Click for trail map

Location: Newport to Claremont. Sullivan County.

Directions:
Newport Trailhead: Exit 9 off I-89. Head west on Rt.103, passing the towns of Bradford, Newbury and Sunnapee Lake. In Newport go north on Rt.10 .25 mile past the village green. Turn left onto Belknap Ave. Park in the lot on the right.

Trail Length: 8 miles

Trail Surface: Gravel, ballast, cinder.

Trail Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Trail Use: mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, ATV's

Caution: Multi-use trails. Soft and sandy in spots.

 

 

 

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bike wheel

Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.

The Trail:

You can begin riding the historic Sugar River Rail Trail in Newport, which is in the vicinity of Mt. Sunapee and Pillsbury State Parks. Mt. Sunapee offers a swimming beach and a ski mountain, where the ski trails are open for hiking in the summer and Pillsbury State Park offers miles of trails for mountain biking.

From Newport this rail to trail offers a wooded and secluded mountain bike ride. The river is a constant companion as you bicycle alongside it. You cross the river and feeder streams over almost a dozen bridges. They range from iron truss and girder bridges to small wooden ones. The highlights of the trail are the two magnificent old covered bridges. They are much longer and higher than usual, because they were built to accommodate the Sugar River Railroad (see Historical Note below).

The trail is very scenic with only a slight grade. There are sections where the surface is loose or soft, especially the first 2 miles out of Newport heading west, possibly due to ATV use. Mountain bikes should be used here.  The designation “Recreational Trail” in New Hampshire means multi-use trails that also allow equestrians and off-road motorized vehicles (ATVs and dirt bikes).

 

Historical Note:

A highlight of the Sugar River Recreational Trail are two covered bridges, built by master woodworkers a century ago to carry trains from Newport to Claremont.

Pier Bridge

The current bridge was built in 1907 by the Boston and Maine Railroad to replace a wood lattice bridge constructed in 1871-1872 by the Sugar River Railroad. The double Town/Pratt lattice trusses with laminated arches were long favored on the branch lines of the Boston & Maine Railroad, largely under the influence of engineer J.P. Snow. In 1900 at least one hundred of this type were in use on the Boston & Maine system. This bridge is also known as the Chandler Station Bridge. The Pier Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wright's Bridge

The bridge was built in 1906 by the Bridge and Building Department of the Boston and Maine Railroad. It replaced a wooden bridge built by the Sugar River Railroad in 1871 and 1872. The Sugar River line merged with the Concord and Claremont Railroad in 1873. The Concord and Claremont Railroad was especially well known for its use of the double Town/Pratt lattice truss. In 1915, there were 15 such bridges on the rail line. The bridge is named for S.K. Wright who sold the right-of-way to the Sugar River Railroad. The Wright's Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Can't get enough of covered bridges? After your mountain bike ride take a side trip to see these four listed in the National Historic Register located in the Cornish Area, around 10 miles north of the Sugar River Trail. They are the Cornish Windsor Bridge, The Blacksmith Shop Bridge, The Dingleton Hill Bridge, and The Blow-Me-Down Bridge.

 

 

For more information:

For other long distance multi-use rail trails in this region see New Hampshire Rail Trails

 

Bureau of Trails
Division of Parks & Recreation
NH Dept. of Resources & Econ. Dev.
PO Box 1856
Concord, NH 03302-1856

Phone: (603) 271-3254
TTY Users: 711 (AT&T National Relay Service)

 

 

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