By: Jennifer Hansen
Route: Londonderry Rail Trail
Percentage Runnable: 100%
Distance: Up to 9 mi. (4.5 out and back)
Elevation Change: none
Parking: Several, but I recommend the Harvey Rd. lot right by Manchester Airport
Let's say you have a flight that gets into Manchester in the afternoon and you have a little time before dark to try a new trail...or you drop your daughter and her friend at the Mall of New Hampshire and want to get in a run -- what's to do? Head over to the Londonderry Rail Trail, which is a surprisingly scenic, paved route through the woods of Londonderry. The trail is not plowed, so in the winter you will take your chances, but if you bring along snowshoes and microspikes, you can keep your options open.
I tried it on a sunny November day. I was delighted to be in woods that felt pretty secluded (not just behind folks' back yards), with wetlands, stone walls, forest, bridges, and yes, the occasionally busy street crossing. I only went a couple miles out and back, but the trail is currently built out 4.5 miles, so you could go for a total of 9 miles from the airport and back.
The trail is well-signed and well-used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and the occasional jokester (see photo).