Welcome to New Hampshire’s Cotton Valley Rail Trail

Enjoying a beautiful day on the Cotton Valley Rail Trail!

Welcome to the Cotton Valley Rail Trail

Where you can  Walk – Run – Ride – Get healthy &  More

Wolfeboro – Brookfield – Wakefield, New Hampshire

The Cotton Valley Rail Trail is located in Wolfeboro, Brookfield and Wakefield, New Hampshire. This 12 mile hard packed Trail offers recreational opportunities to people of all ages and interests – walking, biking (please use caution on platforms when transitioning from trail to inside the rails), running,  wildlife viewing, fishing and railway motor cars. And in winter cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

The Cotton Valley Trail Committee (CVTC) and all its partners and volunteers hope that you enjoy the opportunity to get outside and experience nature in a safe and beautiful environment. The CVTC suggests starting in downtown Wolfeboro or Turntable Park, Wakefield or anywhere in between to enjoy views of lakes, woods, open spaces, wetlands and wildlife. Take a moment to rest on one of our many benches or picnic tables and enjoy the silence and sounds of nature without traffic!

Please see our Trail Overview Page and Map Page for additional details.

The future takes shape

A former fishing shack at the halfway point of the Cotton Valley Rail Trail is being converted to storage for maintenance equipment. Here’s an article from the Conway Daily Sun elaborating on the project.

CAUTION: Trail detours starting at 1/4 mile from Route 16 to a 1/2 mile from Route 16 due to bridges under replacement / construction. Please use detour to pass safely.

The photos below show the progress being made with the help of dedicated CVTC volunteers.

The upgraded storage shed takes shape

Dave Wing, Will wood, Rob Nelson, and John Amrich take a break from their labors

Mark Eiler, John Amrich, and Frank Drew work out some details

Volunteers (back) Josh White, Dave Wing, Frank Drew; (front) Andrew Ingram, Warren Gould, John Amrich, Mark Eiler, Noreen McDonald, and Will Wood

A working partnership

The symbiotic relationship between the Cotton Valley Trail Committee (CVTC) and the Cotton Valley Rail Trail Club (CVRTC) is well-known to residents of the three communities  — Wolfeboro, Wakefield, and Brookfield — through which the the Cotton Valley Rail Trail passes.

CVTC maintains the trail itself and serves as liaison to the New Hamphire Bureau of Trails, while CVRTC takes responsibility for maintaining the old railroad tracks and regularly runs members’ refurbished railroad maintenance cars over those tracks.

For those who are less familiar with these two organizations and the work they do to maintain an important community resource, pages 22 and 23 of the June 10, 2024, issue of The Laker provides a brief but comprehensive look.

Trail organizations nab heritage award

The Wolfeboro Heritage Commission honored five recipients with the second year of Wolfeboro Heritage Awards at a May 29 ceremony in the theater of The Village Players. May is National Historic Preservation Month, and the event provided an opportunity to show how much Wolfeboro cares about its history and historic character.

The awards were created to recognize those who care for historic buildings, work to research, maintain and share evidence of our history, and advocate for saving our community’s character and historic charm.

Honorees included the Cotton Valley Rail Committee and the Cotton Valley Rail Trail Club. The two organizations shared an award for Innovative Re-use and Stewardship of a Historical Recreational Resource, the Cotton Valley Rail Trail.

In its recognition of the work carried out to protect and improve the rail trail, the Heritage Commission stated:

These two groups came together in the early 1990s to implement a vision of preserving the state’s first railroad corridor for recreational use – after the state of NH had purchased the corridor following the closure of Wolfeboro’s tourist railroad. The Cotton Valley Rail Trail Club (CVRTC) was given permission to maintain the tracks and infrastructure for use by rail motor cars, and the Cotton Valley Trail Committee (CVTC) was approved to construct and maintain a multi-use recreational trail. Their crowning achievement was completion of the 12-mile Cotton Valley Rail Trail, from Wolfeboro to Wakefield, celebrated with a Golden Spike Ceremony at Cotton Valley Station in 2017.

CVRTC members maintain and preserve the railroad tracks while keeping alive the skills and experiences of railroad workers who used rail motor cars to maintain rail lines around the world. The CVTC maintains the Cotton Valley Rail Trail for walking, bike riding, cross-country skiing and other passive recreation, and both groups work closely with the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails.

Commission Chair Maggie Stier noted, “Through active, volunteer-led operation and stewardship, these groups are dedicated to preserving motorcar history and maintaining public use of the right-of-way. Truly a community effort, these two groups are the unsung heroes of one of Wolfeboro’s (and Brookfield’s and Wakefield’s) favorite historic places and pastimes — traveling along the 1872 rail corridor.”