Sharing Winter Trails

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. 

Rockingham Recreational Trail in Auburn New Hampshire, snow-covered, with trail sign
Rockingham Recreational Trail, Auburn NH

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.

For more about New Hampshire trails, visit Ellen’s Granite State Walker blog.

Easing into the year

Sandown Depot, Boston and Maine Depot, New Hampshire

I wrote last October about a layered trail: ice, mud, and leaves underfoot. That’s pretty much what I’ve found in January in southern New Hampshire, minus the leaves. Things are pleasantly messy, as long as I have some traction on my shoes. Yes, even for the flat paths: slipping on an icy flat trail in Mine Falls Park left me with a concussion a few years ago. That’s one winter adventure I don’t care to repeat.

I was in Sandown the other day, sharing a trail with some polite ATVers. The trail wasn’t so much layered as patchy: ice here, slush there, frozen tire tracks in the shade, and lots of mud down the middle. I accidentally hit on the best time of day to be a walker there: mid-afternoon, after most of the ATVers had finished for the day. 

Read the full post at Granite State Walker. Photo by Ellen Kolb.