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On the pony truss New Year's Day 2015

Walkers on the pony truss during the New Year’s Day hike in 2015.

The East Quabbin Land Trust opened the full 3 mile section of the Mass Central Rail Trail in October 2015. Click here for a map of the area. This section of rail trail is open for passive recreational uses and access to the Ware River. The Ware River Snowmobile Club has a license to use and groom the trail during snow conditions. Wildlife including bear, otter, deer and coyotes are seen on the trail, along with numerous bird species.

Parking is located at the location of the former New Braintree train station at the intersection of Hardwick and West Roads in New Braintree. Pull off Depot Road near the kiosk and explore the one-mile section east towards Wheelwright. You’ll cross the Ware River on a historic pony truss bridge. Or head west passing over a historic lattice truss bridge until the trail ends at Creamery Road in Hardwick two miles from the parking location.

Enjoy the experience!

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Support Repairs to the Historic Pony Truss and trail bed to Wheelwright!

When encountering any railroad the eye is drawn down the tracks to a place somewhere far around the bend. As a child at my grandparent’s house, I remember the railroad as path for exploration and adventure as I walked the line with my brother. We each used a long bamboo cane fishing pole to balance while walking a rail to the bridge over our favorite fishing hole. Today I sometimes encounter people fishing such quiet spots in the river along the Mass Central Rail Trail.

Providing safe, walkable access to the Ware River is one reason the East Quabbin Land Trust is working to convert the railroad bed into a rail trail. We need your help to finish repairs at the historic pony truss bridge.

The bridge decking is down, and all the preliminary work replacing rotted timbers and abutments is completed. Grant funds covered those expenses. We need to raise $15,000 to install the railings across the bridge and improve the trail with a stone dust surface to Wheelwright. Please make your gift by using the PayPal button below. Your gift will make an immediate difference finishing the 3 miles of the Mass Central Rail Trail in Hardwick and New Braintree. Thank you for your support!

Regards,

Mark Mattson signature

 

Mark Mattson

EQLT board member and rail trail enthusiast

 


The Mass Central Rail Trail is being created over portions of the 104-mile railroad bed that stretches from Northampton to Boston. The East Quabbin Land Trust purchased a 3.2 mile segment in Hardwick and New Braintree in 2007 and has been working on bridge and trail improvements ever since.  Currently a two-mile section running from the former New Braintree Train Station site at West Road heading southwest to Creamery Road in Hardwick is open to public visitation.

As of March 8th, over $2,600 was committed to the bridge work at the pony truss. The goal is to raise $3,500. Please make a contribution today! A request to the Massachusetts Recreational Trails grant program for funds to purchase and lay down stone dust was submitted. With your support and grant funding we can complete the Mass Central Rail Trail between Wheelwright and the former train station site in New Braintree.


Support Repairs to the Historic Pony Truss and trail bed


Click here for a map of the area.

Recent work on the mile between the train station and Wheelwright are underway. Here are the volunteers in action!

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Please adhere to the following rules:

  • Please Be Considerate Of Other Trail Users
  • For Your Safety, No Jumping From Bridges
  • Open Dawn To Dusk
  • Respect The Privacy Of Adjacent Property Owners
  • DOJ Assessment Completed
  • Hunt With Care, Watch For Walkers
  • Please Do Not Litter

The Rail Trail passes through a mixed forest and rural countryside with good views of the Ware River and the Ware River Valley.  The trees are a mix of white pines and various hardwoods including red oak, black birch, red maple and white ash.  The understory shrub layer is dominated by invasive plants including bush honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose. Some areas are less disturbed than others and interesting spring wildflowers including trout lily and wild leek are found in upland silty soils. Small sections of open marsh along the river’s edge support blue joint grass, rice-cut grass, cattail, and reed canary grass with scattered patches of speckled alder. These areas provide potential nesting and resting habitat for wood turtles and may be used by a variety of uncommon odonate species.  Several vernal pools are found along the rail trail at the tow of the slope straddling the property lines.

Passive recreational use is encouraged and can include walking, jogging, bicycling, horseback riding, nature study, and cross-country skiing.  The use of snowmobiles in winter is limited by a lease agreement between the East Quabbin Land Trust and the Ware River Snowmobile Club.  This access is allowed during appropriate snow conditions.

Individuals with limited mobility may use electric power driven mobility devices to experience the Rail Trail provided the mobility devices do not exceed 36 inches in width, speeds over 4 miles per hour, and weigh over 500 pounds.  Visitors using other power-driven devices may request a single use day pass.

 

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