Mill Construction Project to Close Section of Trail in 2015

Phase III of the Pleasant Street mills project will require the closing of a short section of the Manhan Rail Trail this spring, summer and fall if things go as planned.

The project went out to bid March 25. Contractor bids are due April 22 and the work could begin as early as mid May. The work is designed to add a large number of parking spaces behind the mills, along with landscaping and lighting.

This will mean the stretch of trail between Putnam Court and Millside Park will be closed for most or perhaps all of the 2015 construction season.

The Manhan Rail Trail Committee is proposing a detour around using a temporary path from the trail alongside Eastworks to Pleasant Street and then back down Ferry Street to the trail.

While inconvenient, the construction should result in a more attractive view of the back of the mills.  Your patience and cooperation this coming summer will be greatly appreciated. Stay tuned for more updates.


Hilltown Charter School Students Help Out

Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School students hand out Manhan Rail Trail brochures at their Winter Fair in December, 2014.

Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School students hand out Manhan Rail Trail brochures at their Winter Fair in December, 2014.

Fifth and Sixth graders at the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Easthampton have chosen the Manhan Rail Trail as their community service project.  The students set up a booth at the school’s Winter Fair in December 2014 and handed out maps and brochures.

The students are also considering an art project that may include a permanent installation along a sectionsof the trail.  Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

We are thrilled to have young people involved in maintaining and improving the trail and look forward to working with them.


Trivia Night Raised Funds for Rail Trail

Thanks to everybody who participated in the Trivia Night at the Hadley Farms Meeting House in Hadley October 25, 2014.  Our team had a blast even though they didn’t win and most importantly, about $500 was raised for the Manhan Rail Trail.

A special thanks to Gary Laprade for organizing this event.  Another Trivia Night will be held April 18th, so get out those encyclopedias and start studying! (see Upcoming Events page for details)

Manhan Rail Trail Cleanup Day 2014 Successful

The crew of volunteers who worked for several hours to spruce up the Manhan Rail Trail May 3, 2014.

The crew of volunteers who worked for several hours to spruce up the Manhan Rail Trail May 3, 2014.

A hardy crew of volunteers clipped bushes, rakes leaves, picked up trash and spread mulch during trail cleanup day, May 3.  The group spruced up the garden area around the mural on the trail between Payson Avenue and Union Street, and also at the Coleman Road entrance.

This annual clean up is part of the larger downtown clean up day, sponsored by the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce.

It’s a great way to meet like-minded folks and feel good about giving back to the community.  We hope to see more of our trail friends helping out this spring – Sat. May 2, 2015!


Grant to Spur Trailside Development in Easthampton

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and other state and local officials announce the MassWorks grants at Millside Park along the Manhan Rail Trail in Easthampton Nov. 9, 012.

Updated Nov. 11, 2012: Easthampton will be receiving $2.75 million in MassWorks grants to provide new infrastructure between the Manhan Rail Trail and the mills on Pleasant Street.  The announcement came Friday during a press conference held by Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray and other state and local officials at the Millside Park which adjoins the trail.

The funds will provide new water lines and underground electrical service as well as a wider area behind the mills to allow for emergency vehicle access.  Ultimately, mill owners Michael Michon, Will Bundy and James Witmer hope to connect their buildings and have entrances along the trail.

Plans include converting more of the mills to restaurants, commercial space and housing.


Construction Complete on Coleman Road Section of Manhan Rail Trail

Updated Feb. 4 2012: Construction of the southern extension of the Manhan Rail Trail is complete.  In September, crews laid down the first layer of asphalt also known as the binder.  Root barriers, fences and benches were then installed followed by the top coat of pavement.  Landscaping has been completed and most signage has been installed.

In this Sept. 23, 2011 photo, the first coat of pavement is laid on the new trail section from South Street to Coleman Road.

The three-quarter mile section stretches from South Street in Easthampton to Coleman Road in Southampton.

Before construction could begin for this project the area needed to be cleaned of asbestos which was spilled there decades ago by a zonolite plant at the end of Wemelco Way.

Removal of the contamination by the Environmental Protection Agency allowed both construction of the trail and the installation of a new sewer line along the trail bed.

Conditions for the asbestos cleanup was agreed upon by the EPA, along with former owner WR Grace and current owner Olden Properties.   The work began last fall, overseen by engineering firm of O’Reilly, Talbot and Olkun.

Bids for the trail construction and sewer project were opened by MassDOT in January with the lowest of the 18 bids coming in 38% below the $1.18 million dollar estimate.

Necessary wetland areas were excavated, backfilled with wetland loam and hydroseeded with a wetland mix. Crews removed soil and railroad ties before sewer pipes were installed.

View a PDF containing more information or visit the EPA web site at:


Rail Trail Link to Northampton Open

Manhan Rail Trail bridge over Route 10 is lowered onto abutments September 26, 2010.

Updated Nov. 12, 2011: The new connector between Easthampton and Northampton is already seeing a fair amount of bike and foot traffic.

The Manhan Rail Trail bridge over Route 10 was dropped into place early last fall.  The bridge is a key piece to the trail connector recently constructed between the two cities.

A ribbon cutting along with a Grand Opening and Rolling Party marked the official opening of the new section May 22.

The new link connects the bike path in Northampton which ends at Earle Street near the Smith College Equestrian Center, to Easthampton’s Manhan Rail Trail at the intersection of Ferry Street and Pleasant Street.

The $4.6 million project is being funded primarily through federal stimulus money. Five construction bids were submitted and opened August, 2009.  Mass Highway awarded the contract and preliminary work began two months later.

Manhan Rail Trail Committee members Peter Brooks, Mike Chevrette, John Losito, Carla Katz, Barbara LaBombard and Bill Burkart pose in front of the new sign at the fork in the trail near Ferry St. Easthampton.

Finishing touches including painted trail markings and signs have recently been added.  The Manhan Rail Trail Committee plans to install benches and some other enhancements in the near future.

Construction of the trail’s second bridge, this one over the Manhan River, adjacent to Lovefield Street, is also complete.

The three sections of the bridge were installed in September and the ramps leading up to the bridge were paved and lined in early November.

Connecting the two cities by a rail trail was identified as a top priority in the recently completed Easthampton Master Plan.  The new connector has been met with a great deal of enthusiasm by local trail users.

Southampton Trail Plans Moving Ahead

Updated March 25, 2012: Southampton Greenway Committee Chair Michael Buehler reports that their feasibility study was completed and accepted by their Select Board in April 2011.

A seven-member committee was formed with the task of facilitating the acquisition of the rail corridor from the Pioneer Valley Railroad from Coleman Road to Route 10 near Sheldon’s Ice Cream.  The group is also charged with facilitating the design and construction of the greenway.

To date, they have focused on identifying funding streams, negotiating with the Railroad and engaging in outreach to the residents, town leaders, elected state representatives and other greenway groups.

For more information on the progress of the Southampton Greenway, contact Michael Buehler at:, or get involved with the Southampton Greenway Friends group at:


New Map of Area Bike Trails Available

Local cyclists and visitors now have an updated bike trail map at their disposal.  The Friends of the Northampton Trails and Greenways along with the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail produced the map which is now being distributed for free through local libraries, bike shops and other outlets.

The map includes “zoom ins” on both Easthampton and Northampton downtowns which allow for detail on local trails and roads.  The map also includes parking information and the location of rest rooms throughout the network of trails in both cities.

Production of the color maps was funded by small advertisements on the document.  Both Friends’ groups extend sincere thanks to all the businesses and organizations that helped to support this project including:

Southampton Bicycle Center
Hott Productions
MassBike (Pioneer Valley)
Northampton Cycling Club
Pedal to Properties
The Trailside Gallery
Sugar Maple Trailside Inn
Trailside Rentals
Good for the Soles
Construct Associates, Inc.
Northampton Bicycle
Serios Market
Modern Myths Comics and Games
Cooper’s Corners
Bidwell Strategic Marketing and Branding
F J Rodgers Company
Florence Soft Serve
The Mill River Greenway
Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream
Riff’s Joint
The East Village Cafe

Also, a special thanks to Paradise Copies, Inc., Nick Horton, and J. Caris, E. Hartenian and A. Nyren of the Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab.