446 Damon Rd.
Northampton, MA 01060
413 586-8706 ext. 12

The Norwottuck Rail Trail is an 11 mile path linking Northampton, Hadley, and Amherst along the former Boston & Maine Railroad right-of-way. The path's level terrain provides safe passage for pedestrians, wheelchairs, joggers, skaters, bicyclists, and cross-country skiers of all ages and abilities. Motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited. Free parking is available for trail users at Elwell Recreation Area in Northampton, Railroad Street in Hadley, and Station Road in South Amherst. Public restrooms are seasonally available at the parking areas at Elwell Recreation Area and the Station Road in South Amherst.

Trail Etiquette

This 11-mile trail connects downtown Northampton to the communities of Hadley, Amherst, and Belchertown.
Along this trail you will encounter trail users of all ages and abilities, including bicyclists, walkers, hikers, runners, inline skaters, wheelchair users, and baby carriages.  For the safety and enjoyment of all, please:

  • The trail is open for recreational use from dawn to dusk (Commuters with appropriate lights may use the trail at their own risk).
  • Be courteous of other path users.
  • Stop at all stop signs.
  • All users keep right, except to pass.
  • Give a clear audible signal before passing and pass only when it is safe to do so.
  • Travel at a reasonable speed in a consistent and predictable manner.
  • Wear protective headgear. This is required by law for children 16 years and younger, and recommended for all wheeled users.
  • Pets on a short leash are welcome. Remove all waste.
  • Respect private property adjacent to the trail.
  • Carry in, carry out.

Norwottuck Rail Trail Map  pdf format of Norwottuck Rail Trail Map
file size 2MB


MCRT - Norwottuck Branch Rail Trail Rehabilitation Project

Park Directions

The rail trail is located in the central Ct River valley.

From the West:
Head east on I-90 E
Take exit 4 for I-91 toward Holyoke/Springfield - 0.6 mi
Keep left at the fork, follow signs for I-91 and merge onto I-91 N - 13.8 mi
Take exit 19 toward Northampton - 0.2 mi
Go straight through traffic light -   Park will be on the right 358 ft

From the East:
Head west on I-90 W
Take exit 4 for I-91toward Springfield/Holyoke - 0.2 mi
Keep left at the fork, follow signs for I-91 and merge onto I-91 N - 13.8 mi
Take exit 19 toward Northampton - 0.2 mi
Go straight through traffic light - Park will be on the right - 358 ft

From the North:
Take I-91 S
Take exit 20 to merge onto N King St- 0.4 mi
Turn left at Damon Rd - Park will be on the left - 0.9 mi

Recreational Opportunities


The railroad was built in 1887 by the Central Massachusetts Railroad Company. It connected the City of Boston with the City of Northampton. Shortly after the railroad was completed, it was leased by the Boston and Maine Railroad Company and referred to as the Central Massachusetts Branch. By the 1920s there were three round trip passenger trains and numerous freight trains running between Boston and Northampton. As the automobile and trucking industries grew, railroads began to lose their importance. Passenger service continued until 1932 and freight service continued until 1979, primarily to deliver goods to the Farmer’s Supply warehouse in Amherst. The property was acquired by the DCR (formerly DEM) in 1985 and in 1993 was developed into a recreational trail. The rail trail was named Norwottuck at the suggestion of the Hadley Historical Commission. Historians believe that the Native Americans who lived here before the European settlers were called the Norwottucks. Translated, norwottuck means “in the midst of the river,” the Native American term for the entire area.