Our family regularly searches out railtrails in the New England area and we bring our tandem bike along so we can enjoy the sights for miles along these paths. Two bike trails are within 15 minutes of where we live, but we often make day trips to ride railtrails in neighboring states. I feel sure we are not the only people who are finding these trails to be a source of enjoyment and a great way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise at the same time.
There is so much happening on the SNETT, the proposed bikeway which runs from Franklin through Bellingham, on into Blackstone, Millville, Uxbridge and Douglas. The Blackstone River Bikeway intersects with the SNETT through the Blackstone and Millville/Uxbridge sections, and thus the developing of one trail is actually developing both. Two for one–even better!
This past weekend we headed up Rt. 122 to Millville, MA, turned left onto Central Street, drove a few blocks, just past the stone church,
to the parking area for the Triad Bridge and Millville Lock. There we found a paved parking area, with construction ongoing. The first coat of pavement is down on the path headed south, back to the Triad bridge. The Triad bridge still lacks planking, is clearly still under construction and is fenced off.
We enjoyed the views looking down the river, returned to the parking area and headed on in the Uxbridge direction, across the street from the parking area on Central Street. This section of railtrail has finished pavement as well as landscaping, and is mostly complete all the way out to Rt. 146 in Uxbridge. There is a planned parking area right next to the Rt. 146 interchange. An access ramp will allow for easy access to the trail from the parking area.
Heading back home through Blackstone, we spied lots of construction ongoing, people in construction helmets were out on the trail on the weekend working. Portions of the SNETT/Blackstone River Bikeway in Blackstone are paved, bridges (a number of them) have been rebuilt and decking has been put into place, but we did not try to access this portion of the trail.
At Rt. 126 in south Bellingham, bridgework is coordinating with SNETT trail plans to provide a culvert and proper drainage for the trail. It’s a first step in making this section of the railtrail usable.
Near Silver Lake in Bellingham, a portion of the SNETT is within walking distance of where I live. The section between Lake and Center Street has been dug up for water lines, and is now in the final stages of resurfacing, being prepared for a crushed stone finish. We checked it out and found that others are already visiting the path, including dirt bikes, which are damaging the path, as well as turkeys, which are leaving their tracks alongside the path.
All in all, it’s an exciting time, seeing so much progress taking shape. The “proposed’ railtrail is becoming simply “railtrail” right in our own backyards. Hooray!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.