Payson Avenue Trail Crossing Closed Temporarily
As part of the pedestrian safety improvements underway on Payson Avenue, Easthampton, Massachusetts, a section of the Manhan Rail Trail at the crossing of Payson Avenue will be closed until approximately Friday, May 29, 2023. Users are asked to avoid the intersection and seek an alternate route through the intersection.
Earlier this month, work started on this collaborative project between Planning, DPW, and the Mayor’s office. It is partially funded by a $200,000 MassDOT Shared Streets grant and is aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety. The project will include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Construction of a new raised crosswalk for the Manhan Rail Trail on Payson Ave
- Installation of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
- Enhancement of crosswalk and minor adjustment to the corner of Railroad Street
- Construction of a new 10 feet wide sidewalk along Payson Avenue (in front of the Public Safety Complex) to better connect the Manhan Rail Trail to the downtown
- Enhanced ADA ramps and installation of a new bike rack at City Hall
- Reconstruction of the roadway (mill and pave, re-setting granite curbs, and repairing sidewalks on south side) from the Manhan Rail Trail to Union Street
The project is expected to be substantially complete by Memorial Day.
Mulching Project Beautifies Mural Area
April 29,2023 – A group of hardworking volunteers braved the cold drizzle to weed and spread mulch along the trail between Union Street and Payson Avenue today.
Armed with shovels, rakes, weeding tools and wheelbarrows, the group spread the mulch around the bushes and trees in front of the mural and down the trail in both directions.
Special thanks to George Labrie, who brought his bobcat to help load the wheelbarrows with the heavy mulch. This made the job go much quicker and our volunteers appreciated not having to shovel the mulch into the wheelbarrows, which is backbreaking work! The area looks great now – thanks again to everyone who helped out!
Manhan Rail Trail Landscaping Project to Begin Soon
April 20, 2022 – The Manhan Rail Trail Committee, in conjunction with Williston Northampton School, will be re-landscaping the area along the trail adjacent to the Tandem Bagel Company restaurant between Union Street and Payson Avenue. The work is expected to begin in late April or early May, 2022.
Trail users may be re-routed to a short detour during part of the work and should use caution when approaching the work area during construction.
The project will entail removing existing trees and shrubs and replacing them with native species of more appropriate sizes. Every effort is being made to choose plants that are non-invasive, low maintenance, butterfly and bird friendly, drought tolerant, disease resistant and cold hardy.
The project includes new security lighting in the area between Tandem Bagel and the mural.
The Manhan Rail Trail Committee is grateful to be able to partner with Williston Northampton School on this improvement project. We expect the new landscaping to greatly enhance the safety and the enjoyment of trail users.
Tree Removal Planned at Rt 5 Trailhead
June 2021 – The Manhan Rail Trail Committee has learned that Eversource plans to remove several trees near the Route 5 trailhead. Eversource Community Outreach spokesman Chris Magnano said the removal is necessary to “increase reliability of service and to protect their electric facilities.” The utility has a substation adjacent to the trailhead and the concern is that falling trees or limbs could cause power interruptions.
The utility proposed removing eight trees, including one large Norway maple, four green ash trees and three ornamental cherries in the island between the bike path and the substation.
Sarah Greenleaf, Certified Arborist and Tree Warden for the City of Easthampton, met with Eversource representatives at the site and then met with the Manhan Rail Trail Committee to discuss the proposed removal.
“Taking into account the input from the Bike Path Committee and considering the aesthetic and screening quality of the trees, we agree that the last two trees on the east side of the island (one ash and one cherry) should remain to provide coverage of the utility pole and shade for the nearby benches. The other three ash and two cherry trees in the island will be removed, along with the Norway maple by the distribution lines along Route 5 and one hazard tree a few trees away from the Norway maple. This hazard tree shows advanced decay and has been dead for a while,” Greenleaf says.
Eversource has offered to help replant some shrubbery or small trees that will not interfere with the utility substation. The tree work is expected to begin soon and continue into the fall.
Trail Gets Some New Pavement
June 24, 2021 – Several small sections of the Manhan Rail Trail received new surfacing this week. The sections were behind the mills between Ferry Street and Union Street.
The largest area was adjacent to some trees that sit very close to the trail and had caused pretty significant root damage to the pavement. Other areas were smaller dips that may have resulted from rotting debris or soil washouts underneath the trail.
The City of Easthampton Department of Public Works removed the damaged sections and Truehart Paving replaced the blacktop. The Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail paid the approximately $5,000 paving bill out of its donations fund.
“Thank you to all of the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail for their continued support through membership dues and donations,” said Friends president, Wendy Hammerle. “These repairs were badly needed and other sections are ‘on watch’ for future repaving.”
Manhan Rail Trail 2021 Mulching Party
The annual trail ‘mulching party’ was held May 8, 2021. More than a dozen hard working volunteers met on the trail between Payson Avenue and Union Street to spread a fresh layer of mulch around the plantings by the mural and other areas. They also weeded, pruned, swept and otherwise cleaned up the trail, both near the mural and at the Coleman Road trail head.
Thanks to everyone who turned out to help keep the Manhan Rail Trail beautiful!
Successful Visioning Session on Recreation and Open Space
Opinions on the Manhan Rail Trail, Nonotuck Park and/or open spaces in Easthampton were gathered during a public visioning session, held virtually, January 27, 2021. This was the second and final meeting seeking public input.
Easthampton is updating its 2013 Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP), which guides city decisions about open space and recreation management and growth over the next seven years.
The OSRP assesses the current status of recreation and conservation lands in the community and identifies community needs based on a set of goals and objectives developed through a facilitated process. The project was guided by a steering committee comprised of John Mason (Parks and Recreation Director), Cassie Trager (Conservation Agent), Salem Derby (City Councilor), Brenda Salyer (Planning Board member), Jay Ryan (CPA & Conservation Commission member), Marty Klein & Gerrit Stover (Pascommock Conservation Trust), Mary Lou Splain (resident) and Wendy Hammerle (Manhan Rail Trail).
For details on the Open Space and Recreation Plan, please contact the Easthampton City Planning Department.
Manhan Rail Trail Designated National Recreation Trail
Oct. 28, 2020 -The Manhan Rail Trail in Easthampton, Massachusetts has been designated as one of 30 new national recreation trails. The announcement was made on October 22, 2020, by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.
“The Manhan Rail Trail is a dynamic Easthampton asset that reclaims our city and country’s history in a way that is both recreational and functional,” said Easthampton Mayor Nicole
LaChapelle. “As a community, we must recognize the past, to know the path forward.”
The Manhan Rail Trail is a 6-mile, paved multi-use path that traverses Easthampton, providing spectacular views of Mount Tom, the Oxbow, and several flourishing ponds. The trail provides easy access to a vibrant downtown, restored mills housing studios, restaurants and shops, Pascommuck Trust Conservation Areas, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, city parks, and the Manhan Rail Trail Millennium Mural.
“We are thrilled to receive this prestigious designation,” said Wendy Hammerle, President of the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail. “Being named a National Recreation Trail will bring
recognition to our hidden gem here in Easthampton.”
National recreation trails benefit from the prestige and increased visibility of being a part of the National Trails System. All NRTs will be included in the online searchable database of trails which includes descriptive information, maps, and pictures for trail users. A web page for each
state highlights featured trails with links to more information.
Other benefits include access to technical assistance, as well as information on funding, networking, and training opportunities.
Public Opinion Sought on Recreation and Open Space
Updated Nov. 2020 – If you live in Easthampton and are interested in the city’s recreation facilities (including the Manhan Rail Trail) and/or open spaces, then please voice your opinion by participating in the Open Space and Recreation Revisioning process.
The city is updating its 2013 Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP), which guides City decisions about open space and recreation management and growth over the next seven years.
The OSRP assesses the current status of recreation and conservation lands in the community and identifies community needs based on a set of goals and objectives developed through a facilitated process. The project will be guided by a steering committee comprised of John Mason (Parks and Recreation Director), Cassie Trager (Conservation Agent), Salem Derby (City Councilor), Brenda Salyer (Planning Board member), Jay Ryan (CPA & Conservation Commission member), Marty Klein & Gerrit Stover (Pascommock Conservation Trust), Mary Lou Splain (resident) and Wendy Hammerle (Manhan Rail Trail).
Interested residents may get involved by attending the virtual Public Visioning Session which will be scheduled for early 2021.
The OSRP is being developed with assistance from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and funding from Easthampton’s Community Preservation Act.
Want to review our existing 2013 Open Space Plan? Click HERE.
Masks Required on Manhan Rail Trail
August 2020 – The Easthampton Board of Health, on August 19, 2020, voted to require that masks be worn on the Manhan Rail Trail as well as other city owned parks and properties and downtown and mill areas. Here is the complete news release: https://easthamptonma.gov/images/Mask_Order-Signed.pdf
Rail Trail to Remain Open During Ferry Street Project
October, 2020 – Construction in the area of 1 Ferry Street continues and short section of the Manhan Rail Trail has been relocated a few feet for the duration, for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Construction crews will be working in close proximity to the bike path and the City is asking people to be careful and stay away from the construction fence. The project is expected to be completed sometime in November, 2020. (Note Nov. 16: Ferry Street opened today.)
For details visit: https://easthamptonma.gov/ferrystreet
City of Easthampton Adopts New Bike Ordinance
Oct. 2019 – The City of Easthampton has adopted an updated bike ordinance. The ordinance was revised to address the many new types of bicycles, scooters and other wheeled vehicles being used today. Click here to read the ordinance: (The bike ordinance is in Chapter 3) https://www.easthamptonma.gov/business/city-ordinance.html
Trail Break Celebrates Bike Week
Manhan Rail Trail users were invited to take a break and stop by for a snack Saturday, May 11, 2019, on the trail next to the Tandem Bagel between Union Street and Payson Avenue. Some light refreshments were served and maps were handed out.
It was a great opportunity for trail users and Manhan Rail Trail committee members and Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail to meet and chat. Special thanks to Big E and Tandem Bagel for providing the snacks!
The event was part of the Bike Week celebration all around the Valley.
Rail Trail Mulching Completed in Record Time
The annual Manhan Rail Trail clean up and mulching session in Easthampton, Massachusetts was completed in just over an hour on May 4, 2019, thanks to the many volunteers who turned out.
Despite the soggy conditions, the group was able to spread a huge pile of mulch around the bushes in the vicinity of the mural between Union Street and Payson Avenue.
Volunteers also weeded, trimmed branches, raked up sticks, pine cones and other debris and picked up trash along that stretch.
Thanks so much to all our hearty volunteers for helping to keep the rail trail looking so nice!
Please check our “upcoming events” page on this website for future “work parties” and other volunteer opportunities.
Easthampton Gets Bike Share Grant
Bike-sharing is coming to Easthampton thanks to a $225,000 grant from the state’s Housing Choice Initiative. City Planner Jeffrey Bagg says up to five bike-share stations featuring electric-assist bikes may be installed in Easthampton in late spring of 2019.
The city would be joining other locals municipalities including Northampton, Amherst, Holyoke and South Hadley in the ValleyBike Share program. Bagg says the Manhan Rail Trail committee will be consulted regarding the placement of any bike share stations along the trail.
Plans for Mill Development Along Manhan Rail Trail in Easthampton
The following story was posted on Masslive.com October 12, 2018:
Charity Ride to Fund Book Delivery by Bike in Easthampton
A charity cross country bike ride in September 2018 raised money for a program that would bring books to shut-ins via bicycle. The effort is the brainchild of Kelley Crisp, a clerk at the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton.
“I want to deliver books to the members of our community who are unable to easily leave their home to browse for books. With an electric bike pulling a trailer we could take books to community events and neighborhoods. I could reach out to people who are home bound or don’t have easy access to transportation,” Crisp says.
The sixty-year old library clerk rode from San Diego, California to Gulf Shores, Alabama to raise money for this service. She has set up a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/xz9q7z-biking-for-books
Trail Clean Up Goes Smoothly
The annual Manhan Rail Trail Clean Up, May 5, 2018 went smoothly and quickly. Weeds were yanked, mulch was spread around bushes and trash was picked up.
Thank you to all our dedicated volunteers who came out to help! We ask that everyone help us keep it looking nice all year by picking up litter when you see it and let us know if you see any other maintenance issues that require attention.
There will undoubtedly be other work sessions this summer and fall so please keep checking back on the “upcoming events” page of this web site. Hope to see you all again next year!
NorthToEast Event Draws Big Crowd
The North-to-East event, a lively 3-mile procession along the Manhan Rail Trail from Northampton to Easthampton, Massachusetts, took place April 28, 2018. The parade drew cyclists, runners, roller skaters, skateboarders and other trail users of all abilitities.
Activities and music will began at noon at Veterans Field, Northampton follwed by the procession along the trail which ended at Millside Park, Easthampton where more music, juggling, outdoor yoga and other activities were underway. Adaptive cycling demonstrations were also available.
This event was sponsored by the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trial, Friends of the Northampton Trails and Greenways and All Out Adventures.
Pavement Repair Completed
A short stretch of the Manhan Rail Trail was torn up and repaved July 12-14, 2017. The section was adjacent to the ponds in the vicinity of the Williston Northampton School. The repair was necessary because of tree roots pushing their way up through the pavement creating a tripping hazard for walkers and runners and potentially posing a danger to cyclists as well.
The repairs were paid for by funds raised by the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail. Other sections of the trail need this same type of repair and hopefully will be done in the not too distant future. It is the goal of the Friends to maintain the trail to best of our ability. We always welcome donations to help fund maintenance projects. If you use the trail, please consider joining the Friends and/or making a donation.
Rail Trail Clean Up Day 2017
The annual trail clean up was held on Saturday morning, May 6, 2017. We had a good sized crew to help spread mulch around the plants near the mural between Payson Avenue and Union Street. Other volunteers tackled sections behind Williston Northampton School and down by the mills between Union Street and Ferry Street.
Besides picking up trash and spreading mulch, our dedicated workers spent the morning weeding, trimming, sweeping and whatever else needed to be done. Thanks to everyone who helped beautify the Manhan Rail Trail!
New Kiosk Installed on Trail at Union Street
Posted Sept. 12, 2016
The Manhan Rail Trail has a brand new kiosk thanks to a grant from Florence Savings Bank. The solid wood structure replaces the old kiosk made out of composite materials, which had warped in the sun.
The new kiosk, which had to be installed using a crane, is larger and provides more space to display notices about trail-related events.
Florence Savings Bank donated $5,000 for the project. The Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail contributed the remaining cost of several hundred dollars. We are extremely grateful to the bank for their generous donation!
Trailside Mill Project Completed
Updated July 19, 2016
Construction the Pleasant Street Mills project adjacent to the Manhan Rail Trail has been completed. The trail between Union and Ferry Streets was closed occasionally during construction in late 2015 and early 2016 but has reopened.
The construction was part of Phase III of the Pleasant Street mills project in Easthampton. The work added a large number of parking spaces behind the mills, along with landscaping and lighting.
Your patience and cooperation during the trail closures was greatly appreciated. Thank you!
For a bird’s eye view of the construction project in late June 2015, check out this video taken by Pat Brough using his drone:
Manhan Rail Trail Cleanup Day 2015
A hardy crew of volunteers spread mulch during trail cleanup day, May 2. 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 next time (May 7, 2016)!
Hilltown Charter School Students Help Out
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 sections of 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.
3rd Trivia Night Successful!
Our third Trivia Night fundraiser was a great success! Our rag-tag trivia team did a great job and almost $850 was raised. The event was held April 18, 2015 at the Meeting House on Route 9 in Hadley (in the former Hadley Village Barn Shops).
A special thanks to Gary Laprade for organizing this event!
Grant to Spur Trailside Development in Easthampton
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.
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.
Rail Trail Link to Northampton Open
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.
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: Mbl@bostonraremaps.com, or get involved with the Southampton Greenway Friends group at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, organizations and individuals who helped to support this project.