Hiking

Rockland Rail Trail / Hanover Branch Rail Trail

500 Market St, Rockland, MA 02370, USA

Owned By: Town of Rockland

This 3-mile paved trail for walking and bicycling extends from the Hanover/Rockland town line to North Abington. Numerous access points. Stroller-friendly.

Features

The Rockland Trail Trail, also known as the Hanover Branch Rail Trail, extends from the Hanover-Rockland line, through Rockland, to Monroe Street in North Abington. Because it is almost fully paved, it can be used not only by hikers and cyclists, but also people who use walkers, wheelchairs, and baby strollers.

The Hanover Branch Railroad once extended for 7.8 miles from Hanover Four Corners, through South and West Hanover, across Rockland, to North Abington, where it connected with the Old Colony Railroad to Plymouth. Incorporated in 1846, and constructed over the better part of the next 20 years, it officially opened for service in 1868.

E. Y. Perry, who operated a large tack factory in South Hanover, was largely responsible for the creation of the railway. He also owned a general store (now Myette’s) and constructed the building in South Hanover that for many years housed a series of a shoe factories – Goodrich, Cochran, and Shanley — and later the Clapp Rubber Company. The railway facilitated the transport of materials and finished products to and from these and other enterprises, but also offered passenger service. Amusingly, in its latter years, when the businesses along its route had shut down, it continued to carried passengers, … but only by self-propelled cars!

The Old Colony Railroad absorbed the Hanover Branch in 1887. In 1893, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad took over the lease. The railroad continued to operate well into the 20th century. These days, many of Massachusetts’ former railroad beds are overseen by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. From Luddams Ford Park in Hanover, along the Indian Head River to the Hanson line, and in another section near the Hanover Senior Center, much of the former Hanover Branch railroad bed has been converted into a very pleasant 1-mile walking trail (see https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/indian-head-river-trails/).

Trail Description

The trail is paved, 10 feet wide, and 3 miles long. It begins on the Hanover-Rockland line. The primary access point is at the Rockland Police Department on Market Street in Rockland. However, users can also access the eastern terminus of the trail from the cul de sac at the end of Circuit Street in West Hanover (via a short path through the woods).

At the Rockland Police Department is the first of several road crossings, each marked with a yellow metal gate that permits individuals to pass, but not cars. The trail is very easy to follow. Each time it crosses a road, a crosswalk and signage give trail users the right of way. Still, it’s important to proceed with caution through all intersections. Some of them are relatively quiet, but others involve major roadways such as Routes 139 and 123. Heading west, the trail continues through residential areas and eventually passes by Rockland’s Senior Center, golf course, and high school. It continues into Abington, crossing Charles Street and ending at Monroe Street.

Don’t miss the section of original rails, and the informational kiosk, at the Union Street crossing.

Trail Rules: Cyclists must yield to pedestrians. Clean up after your pets. Horses and motorized vehicles are prohibited, as are fires, alcohol and smoking.

Habitats and Wildlife

The trail is lined with pine, oak, maple and beech. It passes over French’s Stream, which is one of the sources of the North River. French’s Stream flows through Weymouth and Rockland into Hanover, where it joins the Drinkwater River, eventually becoming the Indian Head River. The Indian Head River joins Herring Brook in Pembroke and Hanover to form the North River, which flows 12 miles through Hanover, Pembroke, Norwell, Marshfield, and Scituate, to the Atlantic Ocean.

500 Market St, Rockland, MA 02370, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 3 miles

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Park at the Rockland Police Department, 500 Market Street. Additional access at the cul de sac at the end of Circuit Street in West Hanover, at the Hanover Senior Center, and at both Charles and Monroe streets in Abington.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Facilities:

Informational kiosk at Union & East Water Streets.

Dogs: Dogs must be kept on a short leash at all times.

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: Yes

Scenic Views: Yes

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