The days are starting to get a little longer and the weather is getting nicer every day. Keene is becoming greener by the day as well, and students are finding themselves outside a lot more than in the beginning of the semester.
For students looking to enjoy the spring, they don’t have to go far from campus.
The Ashuelot Rail Trail is located essentially right next to the Keene State Campus. Part of the trail runs behind the Owl’s Nest buildings and continues over the bridge by Winchester parking lot, across the bridge over the road, and down to the athletic fields on Kriff Road. Locals and others frequently park at Kriff Road for access to the trail as well.
The pedestrian bridge over the road has long been a spot that students like to visit, largely due to its proximity to campus. Aside from other pedestrians and bikers this spot remains relatively secluded, and students have been known to visit even at night to watch the headlights rushing past and enjoy night air.
The trail is actually quite long, running from Keene south to Hinsdale through Swanzey and Winchester, and passing by he Pisgah State Park. At over twenty-one miles long, the trail follows the Ashuelot river into southern New Hampshire with an array of sights both natural and historical. There are many offshoots of the trail to visit, especially the farther along the trail you go.
Old mills, rusting box cars and revamped train depots are some of the man-made sights to see, but perhaps the main attractions of the Ashuelot Trail are the covered bridges. The trail and many of the bridges are surrounded by trees, offering a certain feeling of privacy and immersion in nature, especially where the woods are dense. Thanks to the trees, the trail is heavily shaded, allowing it to keep relatively cooler even in the blazing sun as spring comes into full bloom and summer approaches. In the fall, this trail is a beautiful path to follow to take in the reds and oranges of the changing leaves.
The trail is popular with walkers, joggers and bikers in the warmer months. The trail is suitable for all skill levels and the length or your hike/bike is up to you.
Many enjoy taking their dogs for long, scenic walks along this path, making this trail a decent spot for dog-watching for students who are missing their pets at home. The popularity of the trail means that there is a decent amount of traffic along the path, so you can expect to exchange some friendly greetings when passing others.
Wildlife watching is also possible along the trail, with the calls of birds and the scuffling of squirrels heard all around. If walking around at nighttime, you should beware of skunks in the area around campus.
The Ashuelot Rail Trail is one of the hallmarks of Keene and a must-visit for those who have never walked or biked it and seen its wonderful vistas, views, and immersion into the nature of the beautiful city of Keene.
Abigail Dix can be contacted at: