This post first appeared on The New Hampshire Rail Trail Coalition’s website.Photo and text by Ellen Kolb.
New Hampshire’s multi-use rail trails don’t take a season off. Winter is a time for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Some rail trails are snowmobile trails as well, and this is a time to thank the snowmobile clubs whose members help maintain the trails for everyone’s benefit.
After a generous snowfall, it’s tempting to grab snowshoes and head to the nearest trailhead. Once you get there, if you’re using one of the rail trails open to snowmobiles, you’re likely to see a sign telling you which local club handles trail grooming. Keep an eye out for the grooming machines that create a path of compacted snow along the trail – and wave to the driver!
Keep in mind a little bit of trail etiquette. Snowmobilers will stick to the rail trails marked for their use, and will be mindful of non-motorized skiers and hikers. Where cross-country ski tracks are present, snowshoers and hikers will walk next to rather than on top of them. Slower traffic always stays to the right.
With courtesy and good humor, everyone can enjoy wintertime shared use of the rail trails. Look for one near you, and enjoy the snow.
On a rail trail, spring is about the conditions, not the calendar. Snow and ice give way to mud season. Before you know it, the trailsides are greening up, signaling a time for tuning up bikes and putting away boots.
If winter kept you indoors, spring will nudge you outside. It’s tempting to get back to the trails and trailheads even when they’re muddy. The resulting ruts would be a problem down the line, though, so a little patience is in order while the mud recedes. Even the paved trails can be reluctant to give up their icy patches. Again, patience. Spring will win out.
I’m pleased to put on my Granite State Walker hat and join a small army (strictly peaceful!) of Granite Staters in a 24-hour fundraising event to benefit the Manchester City Library Foundation. Around the clock on April 7, we’ll take turns reading aloud, with a different theme each hour. Midnight on the 7th is for Nature, and I’ll be reading from The Cohos Trail guidebook. Author Kim Nilsen included some New Hampshire natural history in that wonderful guide, and I’ll share a few pages.
Night owls can catch my 12:20 a.m. segment at www.twitch.tv/mcl_foundation, barring tech glitches. Not a night owl? No problem. Tune in anytime on April 7. It’s going to be a virtual grab bag of assorted readers and books.