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Rockingham Recreational Trail

From Massabesic Lake to Great Bay, this trail offers pretty ponds, beautiful bridges and a shady ride in the NH forests.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 26 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Due to its proximity to Manchester and the Manchester airport, this trail is one of most accessible of the wonderful New Hampshire... more »

Tips:  -Suggested supplies to take on this trip include:
water, snacks, rain gear, insect repellent, this guide on your smart phone, and a... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Massabesic Lake

Often rail trails gradually get more scenic as you wander away from the more densely populated trailheads. Not the Rockingham Recreational Trail.
Right from the start, it follows the shores of Massabesic Lake, just outside Manchester, New Hampshire. It's not unusual to see sailboats tagging along with trail users like floating angels guarding your... More

2. a road of many names

You are now intersecting the "road of many names." It is called, Manchester Road, Candia Road, and Hwy. 121. Whatever you call it, the developers of the Rockingham Recreational Trail have been kind enough to provide underpasses at most of the major road/trail intersections so that your journey is safe and relaxing.

Not only is this a beautiful spot on the trail, but it is also a potential base for your trail adventure. There is a family resort here called (oddly enough) Onway Lake Family Resort. It includes log cabin and treehouse rentals.
If you happen upon this place in early October, you may never want to leave.

4. Raymond, New Hampshire

The trail passes near numerous eating establishments such as Teddy's Lounge and Donna's Long Branch Restaurant; it also runs right by the Raymond Historical Society which is located in the old railroad depot. This serves as a museum, a trail information center, and a meeting place for locals.
It's hours are limited and vary by day and season so... More

5. Epping, New Hampshire

Although eateries aren't as close to the trail in Epping, the Holy Grail Restaurant is just slightly north on Main Street.

6. man-made thunder

If you here loud rumbling on this part of the trail, it's probably not your stomach or thunderheads. More than likely it's some heavy-duty muscle cars on either the Star Speedway or the New England Dragway. Both of these auto racing venues are located just off the trail.

7. Newfields swamps

When you are at this point on the trail, you are closest to the town of Newfields. This area can be especially buggy in late spring, early summer, and early fall so a little bug repellant goes a long ways. This is also a good place to spot deer and fox.

8. east end of trail

From here, you are not far from where the river meets the sea at Great Bay. If you want to stay at this end of the trail, the Great Bay Camping area is not far from the trailhead.
Since you are between the towns of Newmarket and Newfields, there are not many establishments for restocking your food and drinks near the trail, so you may want to... More

9. water crossing

As with most of the New Hampshire rail trails, you'll cross many ponds, bogs, and other waterways. Although they are pretty and plentiful, they can also harbor nature's little flying critters, so come prepared with insect repellent.
The trail itself has a dirt and sand base, so it can become a bit slippery and sticky after rainstorms, but the... More

10. trail of beautiful bridges

So the trail starts out beautifully at the lake and just keeps providing stunning views. Since trail users are often in the beautiful but somewhat stifling forest, some of the finer scenic spots are at bridge crossings. Not only do they allow you to see out onto lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams, but the bridges themselves are often quite... More