Welcome to the Suncook Valley Trails Plan for Allentown, Epsom, Pembroke, Chichester and Pittsfield!

Click here to view a Map of the Historic Suncook Valley Railroad Alignment and Conservation Lands.

After several months of meetings, discussion, and preparation, the draft Suncook Valley Trails Plan June 2019 has been developed. Presented at the June 18, 2019 Reconvening Session of the Suncook communities, the Plan and its vision for a multi-use rail trail system along much of the former Suncook Valley Railroad, as identified in community meetings, was well received. An Epsom Rail Trail walk was held prior to the meeting, where attendees had the opportunity to view and discuss trail development opportunities in the field during a pleasant hike from the Epsom Central School to the Odd Fellows Building and back. The draft Plan with Maps of the public input trail priorities (Appendix B) and supporting Appendices are available here for download.

For CNHRPC, the next steps include making any final edits to the plan as necessary, and presenting the draft Plan to our Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) later this summer for consideration. After the TAC has approved the document, the Plan will be presented to the CNHRPC Full Commission for adoption. CNHRPC staff will be available to assist Allenstown, Epsom, Pembroke, Chichester, Pittsfield with organizing their Trails Committees, and can provide administrative assistance to the groups, and assist with coordination between towns and groups to help implement the identified priority rail trails projects in the region.

The June 2019 Reconvening Session attendees requested CNHRPC organize another meeting of the Suncook Valley communities in June 2020 and to include another rail trail walk ahead of the meeting. The 2020 meeting is intended for networking and reporting on progress of trails activities.

For communities, the next step is implementation! Get organized and establish Town Trails Committees, partner with snowmobile clubs, join trail user groups, begin talking with landowners and making positive connections, publicize existing trails, get municipal support, fundraise and apply for grants, obtain trails use agreements or easements from landowners, choose the easiest trails project to complete first to be an example of successful rail trail efforts, and network with as many people, Towns, groups as possible. CNHRPC can help with the organization, cheerlead the Committees, recommend and assist with grant writing, and provide other administrative and technical support, but the motivation, legwork, and groundwork must be a grassroots community effort to be successful. Read through the Implementation section of the Suncook Valley Trails Plan for ideas, and contact CNHRPC when your Town is ready to begin.

Local Trails SVTP Groups Meeting Calendar
Town Meeting Scheduled Meeting Location
Reconvening Session
Presentation of Draft Plan
Tues June 18, 6:00 PM
(Optional Rail Trail Walk at Water Street)
Tues June 18, 7:00 PM
Meeting Summary
282 Black Hall Road
Epsom Central School Gymnasium
Allenstown Wed May 8, 6:30 PM
Meeting Summary
(Economic Development Comm)
Mon May 20, 6:00 PM
(Board of Selectmen)
16 School Street
Town Hall
Epsom Tues April 2, 6:00 PM
Meeting Summary
940 Suncook Valley Highway
Town Office Meeting Room
Chichester Wed May 1, 6:00 PM
Meeting Summary
54 Main Street
Chichester Grange/Town Hall
Upstairs Meeting Room
Pembroke Tues May 28, 5:30 PM
Meeting Summary
311 Pembroke Street
Pembroke Town Hall
Downstairs Meeting Room
Pittsfield Wed April 17, 6:00 PM
Meeting Summary
85 Main Street
Town Hall Meeting Room

Want to attend a meeting in a different community? Absolutely! Please join us… Because we’ve reserved rooms of a certain size, we just ask that you send a quick “head count” email to ctufts@cnhrpc.org in case we need to make a location change to accommodate a large number of people.

What is the Suncook Valley Trails Plan?

Local Town Master Plans, Planning Boards, Economic Development Committees, Conservation Commissions, Parks and Recreation Commissions, and Historical Societies have identified the multiple needs for economic development, recreational opportunities, preservation of history and culture, retention and enhancement of open space and connection to the outdoors, and the need for alternative transportation in their communities. Existing trails networks crisscross the region in the form of organized Snowmobiles Club trails, Town and School trails, private landowner trails, former railroad beds, homeowner association trails, and more. Existing Town, conservation and public lands could be utilized as anchors for regional trails development.

The Central NH Regional Planning Commission is developing a coordinated trails plan for the Suncook Valley area in Spring 2019 for the benefit of residents, decision makers, visitors and businesses. An evaluation of the trails opportunities within the former Suncook Valley Railroad corridor in Allenstown, Epsom, Pembroke, Chichester and Pittsfield and the existing trails connections to this corridor could enable the future development of collaborative trails projects while enhancing and preserving those local community features dearly desired by Towns. To develop this trails plan, we are seeking the assistance of Suncook Valley area municipal committees, area trails clubs and other groups to ascertain interest, issues, and opportunities.

The Suncook Valley Trails Plan (SVTP) is envisioned to contain a brief history of the Suncook Valley Railroad, appropriate existing community trails maps with public and conservation lands, indications of trail usages and conflicts, narratives of the existing trails, identification of potential trail project priorities, and a listing of recommendations.

Process to Develop the Suncook Valley Trails Plan

The project began with a Visioning Session in January 2019 at the Epsom Public Library, inviting known local interests to meet CNHRPC staff and learn about the proposed collaborative project. Beginning in March, meetings in the individual Towns will be held and publicized to the entire inclusive public participant list. At these interactive Town-based meetings, we will narrow the focus of what we hope to accomplish, which is existing trail identification, trail usages and conflicts, and opportunities or projects that enhance connectivity. Anyone who is interested within the Suncook Valley area is welcome to attend the Town-specific meetings. The CNHRPC respects the organized clubs that have landowner agreements for trails usage and encourages club participation to ensure any trails information provided is described in the appropriate manner within the SVTP.

After the Suncook Valley Trails Plan is Completed

Once the document is completed, it’s time to get to work. Examples of outcomes of the SVTP may include a collaborative area-wide economic development brochure with certain trails locations that could attract visitors and inform residents, a local trails project highlighting the rich history of the area, or the development of one or more regional Suncook Valley Trails Committees. The CNHRPC can help organize Trails Committees, assist with some of the trail projects’ legwork, help the Towns fulfill their Master Plan objectives, and generally support the efforts of alternative transportation and recreation in the region.

Suncook Valley Trails Meeting Information and Documents

Upcoming meetings are anticipated to be scheduled in Epsom, Pittsfield, Chichester, Pembroke and Allenstown between March and May 2019. Meeting information will be emailed to CNHRPC’s list of known interested groups and individuals. Agendas and meeting summaries will be posted here.

Epsom Visioning Session, January 2019

Some of Our Current Partners or Interested Groups in the Suncook Valley Trails Plan Activities

Is your Board, Committee or Club represented on our contact list? If not, join us now by emailing Craig (ctufts@cnhrpc.org) or Stephanie (salexander@cnhrpc.org) to stay informed of activities.

Barnstead Parks and Recreation Commission
Chichester Parks and Recreation Commission
Chichester Planning Board
Epsom Board of Selectmen
Epsom Conservation Commission
Epsom Economic Development Committee
Epsom Zoning Board of Adjustment
Fort Mountain Trail Winders
NH Horse and Trail Association
NH State Representative for Merrimack County, District 21
NH Trail Dawgs
Pembroke/Allenstown Meet Me in Suncook
Pembroke Conservation Commission
Pembroke Historical Society
Suncook Valley Sno-Riders
…with Property Owners, residents and many more!

Send us your input!

Please send us your Suncook Valley Trails input by completing a Trails Experiences Questionnaire Word form and returning it to salexander@cnhrpc.org.

Do you have historic or current photos of the Suncook Valley Railroad corridor and connecting trails you’d like to share? What about trail maps? Conservation plans or inventories? Links to websites with information? Other neat Suncook Valley trails stuff? Please email files to salexander@cnhrpc.org or click here to upload files quickly & easily to Dropbox.