Frequently Asked Questions
If the MCRT is the longest rail trail in the northeast at 104 miles, what are some other long ones?
The next longest one is the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail across northern VT. The LVRT is 96 miles long.
The Downeast Sunrise Trail in Maine is 87 miles long.
The New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway is 84 miles long.
The Northern Rail Trail in New Hampshire at 60 miles is the next longest one.
I've been waiting over 20 years for this to get built. Why does it take so long to build a long trail in Massachusetts?
Though rail trail development in Massachusetts happened in a few places in the 1970s and early 80s, (Cape Cod and Northampton come to mind.) piecing together a long trail is a very heavy lift so to speak. It isn't an easy thing for municipal or state officials to take a lead on this stuff without top-level (i.e. the Governor) pushing for this to happen. Governor Baker is on-board with the MCRT and knows how important this is. We (Norwottuck Network) also publish a free, monthly newsletter that goes out to over 10,000 people now. This has helped to accelerate things and also, it was announced by Gov. Cuomo in New York, that their DOT is building out another 400 miles of trails and will be complete by the end 0f 2020. This has helped to jump start things in Massachusetts.
What happened to the trail in Weston? In Belchertown?
Weston voted down the trail in 1996, but in 2006, the MBTA decided to offer up a lease of the entire Wayside section of the MCRT--about 24 miles--to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the State Parks agency. Together they hammered out a deal and Weston and Wayland are built. Sudbury, Hudson and Berlin will be built-out a in a few more years. Oh and by the way, most of the folks who were opposed to the trail in Weston have either moved-on or have seen how well loved the trail, that they have softened their opposition.
In Belchertown, the trail idea was also voted down there in 1996. A couple of years after the vote, a 501c3 land trust --the Belchertown Land Trust -- was formed and over the next 20 years, they quietly, simply bought available pieces of the corridor and later donated them to the town. (9.5 miles total. 6.8 miles protected. 72% protected.)
The town has submitted a grant request in February, 2020 to begin to improve their town-owned sections. Inch by inch as we like to say. Here's a great story in Commonwealth Magazine from the spring of 1998 about the experience in both Weston and Belchertown.
More questions? CraigDP413@Gmail.com. Or my cell is 413 575 2277