About Us

The Friends of the Presidential Rail Trail have joined together to promote, protect, and maintain New Hampshire’s Presidential Rail Trail between Gorham and Whitefield for non-motorized recreation during the snow-free times of the year.
– Come travel the trail on foot or by bicycle
– Look for birds, bears, moose, turkeys and wild flowers
– Hunt and fish in season
– Enjoy the views of the mountains and marshes

Geocaching along the Presidential Rail Trail

By Nancy De Courcey and Nancy Greenlee 

Nancy De Courcy and Nancy Greenlee explore for geocaches.October 2015
Nancy De Courcey and Nancy Greenlee explore for geocaches. October 2015

The Presidential Rail Trail is a popular place for geocachers. Since 2008 more than 114 sites have been hidden along the PRT from Jefferson to Gorham—ten more were added just recently! Geocachers from many states and countries have commented on our amazing, wonderful trail—some in languages other than English!

To find a geocache, you will need a GPS-enabled device (hand-held receiver or mobile phone with a GPS app) and a set of coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the cache’s location. There are over two million caches hidden worldwide. The official website, www.geocaching.com, will guide you through the steps of becoming a member (free), choosing a caching name to use when signing logs, and logging your finds. You can read logs for each cache to see how often and when they have been found, and read comments by other cachers. The website offers the ability to search for caches in the area you wish to explore by town, address or other filters.

For the traditional geocache, a geocacher hides a waterproof container with a logbook and then records the cache’s coordinates. The next step is to post these coordinates, along with other details of the location, on the geocaching.com website. Other cachers obtain the coordinates from that listing and look for the cache using their GPS receivers.

Family from Gorham has just found a geocache.April 2016
Family from Gorham has just found a geocache. April 2016

Some caches are easy to find and some are devilishly hard. Nancy Greenlee of Jefferson reported last fall that from three different locations on the trail:

“a cache hidden in 2008 has been found by 233 people;

a cache hidden in 2010 has been found by 239 people;

a cache hidden in 2012 has been found by 90 people.”

There was also a cache that had yet to be found.

Caches vary in size, shape, terrain where they are hidden, and how difficult they are to find. After signing the log, the cacher must return the cache to the same location so that other geocachers may find it. Some caches are large enough to contain “swag” or items for trade. Some are tiny. Because they are hidden high and low, it is fun to cache with a partner or group. The more eyes, the better!

Looking for an elusive geocache.June 2016
Looking for an elusive geocache. Look carefully–there are two searchers here! June 2016

Searching geocachers record their “find” in the logbook and then online. Depending on the size of the cache’s container, the cache owner may place items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value. Should one decide to take an item, geocaching etiquette suggests leaving an item of similar appeal.

In late April 2016, as Nancy De Courcey posted on our Friends Facebook page, “Local geocachers hosted a “CITO” (cache in, trash out) event with sign-in at the Appalachia trailhead parking lot. We collected over fifteen large bags of trailside and roadside trash in 1-1/2 hours. Also a small contingent picked up the Randolph East trailhead area. We had folks from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire…People came early and stayed late, enjoying this wonderful resource. One small group was thrilled to share all the animals they had seen and heard on the section near Cherry Pond. It was a first visit to the area for many attendees—they were very impressed with this wonderful resource and plan to return with family and friends to do more exploring and caching on foot as well as on mountain bikes.”

Geocaching is a great family activity, and can be done on foot or on a bicycle. What could be better than a treasure hunt while exploring the scenic Presidential Rail Trail?



The repaired Snyder Brook pony truss bridge on the PRT was reinstalled on December 5, 2015. This winter it will be open to the public for snowmobilers, skiers, and walkers, and next spring it will remain open for bicyclists, hikers and pedestrians while cPony Truss Bridgearpenters restore the siding that protects the structure.

The video link here shows the moving of the bridge from its original space.


Pony truss bridges have two distinguishing features: wooden diagonal braces, together with steel tension rods that hold the braces in plumb. This single-span bridge style was used frequently by the Boston & Maine Railroad as a substitute for steel bridges because it was both inexpensive and, before failing under the weight of a train, gave clear signs of deterioration.

Randolph’s pony truss bridge, a “boxed Howe truss,” was built in 1918 by the railroad company, and continued to support freight trains until the Berlin branch was discontinued in 1996. (A similar bridge spanning the Moose River in Gorham was destroyed by arson in 2004. This bridge has been reconstructed, using the original steel parts. The bridge is currently on outdoor display under the auspices of the Gorham Historical Society.)

“The Snyder Brook bridge is significant as… the last surviving wooden railroad track pony truss bridge in the United States that retains integrity of design, location, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association,” writes James Garvin, former NH state historian in the NH Division of Historical Resources inventory.

Although the bridge’s basic structure was still stronWest Abutment Sep 2014g enough to support recreational activities, by the winter of 2013-14, the abutment on the east side had deteriorated due to
water pressure during the spring run-off. The bridge was then closed to all traffic, and snowmobiles were rerouted. The following summer, it became evident that the bridge might not withstand another winter.

For over a year, the NH Bureau of Trails had been developing a plan of action as well as obtaining funding for the repair throughThe interior siding was removed from the north side of the historic 1918 Snyder Brook rail bridge, revealing diagonal wood trusses and vertical bolts secured by (unseen) large nuts, on Tuesday, Dec. 2, as part of the preparations for Friday’s lift by brothers Harlan and Vernon Crawford of Canaan, Vt., both crew members of Northern New England Field Services, LLC, of Stewartstown, owned by Dennis Thompson who provided on-site direction throughout the project. the federal Recreational Trails Program. They were able to authorize and implement an emergency rescue. By early December 2014, they had engaged large-project contractor New England Field Services, LLC, to prepare a dirt platform on the west side of the brook and to remove the interior wood siding so the bridge could be moved.

The 1918 historic Snyder Brook Pony Howe Truss Bridge was lifted from its cut stone abutments, the east partially broken apart, on Friday, Dec. 5 by operator John Lavoie of Littleton of CCS Crane Service of Morrisville, Vt., and then placed on a dirt platform on the north side of Presidential Recreational Rail Trail in Randolph. The dilapidated abutment and bridge will be repaired, and the bridge put back in place in summer 2015. Photo taken from east (Gorham) side of brook; crane is on west (Jefferson) side.

On December 5, 2014, a 275-ton-capacity crane operated by Vermont’s CCS Crane Service lifted the bridge off its abutments and swung it onto the prepared site.

Plans were made to repair the existing structure and the abutments, using the original stones. This process was delayed until fall 2015. Ben Wilson reported, “The West abutment was completely rebuilt with a wing wall using all the original material and 37 yards of concrete backing it up. The brook was also moved back to the middle channel. The carpentry work will be completed in May and until then, the trusses will be covered and protected from the weather.”

Snyder-Brook-Bridge-Move_12-5-14_001The final steps were taken with the return of the crane, and the successful lifting of the pony truss bridge back into its original position on December 5th. NH Division of Historical Resources Director Ben Wilson is now planning where to provide interpretative information about the Presidential Rail Trail’s historic treasure. A rapid-motion video of the move “back home” is linked to the post below this account.


We would like to express our thanks to many people who have made this possible:

NH’s Department of Resources and Economic Development, especially Trails Bureau Head Chris Gamache and district supervisor Clint Savage;

Ben Wilson, Director of NH’s Bureau of Historic Sites;

Charles Martin author of New Hampshire Rail Trails;

David Govatski, retired USFS forester;

The engineers and employees of Northern New England Field Services, LLC and CCS Crane Service;

Director Phil Bryce of the Division of Parks and Recreation;
Much of the information for this article has come from two sources: former NH historian James Garvin, who completed the bridge’s inventory for the NH Division of Historical Resources; and Edith Tucker, from her articles in the Berlin Reporter and Coos Democrat.

Photo credits to: 1 & 2 by Charles Martin; 3 & 4 by Edith Tucker; 5 & 6 Grant Klene


The Bridge is Back!

Yes, we put the bridge back in place on Monday. The West abutment was completely rebuilt with a wing wall using all the original material and 37 yards of concrete backing it up. The brook was also moved back to the middle channel. The carpentry work will be completed in May and until then, the trusses will be covered and protected from the weather. We will also be applying NO-CHAR to the entire bridge structure to hopefully protect it from arson. Currently the trail is back open and will remain so, even when the carpentry work is being completed.


Ben Wilson

Here is a link to a video of the bridge replacement.

Bridge replacement

Mellow Mountain Biking from Gorham

Abby Evankow describes a recent loop using the Presidential Rail Trail from Gorham 15 miles, about 3 hours.

One of the appeals of this loop is that you can get on at several different points–from your motel in downtown Gorham, from your campsite at Dolly Copp Campground or Moose Brook State Park, or from the Rail Trail parking lot on Rte 2, just west of Gorham.

We got a late start on our mid-September ride because of a flat tire. Fortunately, Crooker Cycle Sports (240 Glen Ave., Berlin, 603-752-3632) graciously replaced the defective tube so we weren’t held up for long. We parked at the Rail Trail Parking lot and headed west, toward Randolph, on the Presidential Rail Trail. It’s a beautiful bike path with a gentle uphill grade along the Moose River with increasing views of the Presidential Range. Even cycling at mid-day, much of the trail is nicely shaded by the thick forest on each side. After about 2 miles, you’ll cross a bridge and find hiddeIMG_4057n, just off the trail to the north (right), a big gutted concrete structure. This is what remains of the Mount Madison Spring Company that bottled the spring water at the turn of the century and made various drinks, including Dolly Copp Ginger Ale. (When you’re back in town, visit the Gorham Historical Society, 25 Railroad St.-466-5338.) When you reach the open beaver pond and marsh, you’ll know you’re getting close to the junction with Dolly Copp Rd (also known as Pinkham B Rd). A giant blue heron took flight, not 10 feet from us. This is a great spot for birdwatching.IMG_4054

We left the PRT, turning east (left) on the Dolly Copp, a seasonal road that passes through the White Mountain National Forest and connects Rte 2 and Rte 16. We definitely appreciated the thick shade as the terrain got steeper–no railway grade here, but the 2-mile climb to the height of land is nicely modulated. A few cars passed us, but we mostly had the alternately rough asphalt/packed-dirt road to ourselves. Just over one mile up, on the right, is the Town Line Brook Trail, an easy 0.2 mile walk to scenic Triple Falls. It’s a steep, narrow gorge with plenty of lush moss, quite scenic despite the low flow. We appreciated the break and got back on our bikes to finish our climb. At the height of land, you’ll see the trail head and parking lot for the Pine Link Trail up Mt. Madison. Coasting down was lovely, but once we realized there were potholes of various sizes, camouflaged by the shadows, we slowed our descent.

About a mile down on our left, we passed the gated entrance to a snowmobile route–the Bear Springs Trail, a more rugged path with ups and downs, some uneven terrain as well as a few muddy patches. Being novice mountain bikers, we stayed on Dolly Copp Rd to Rte 16, roughly another mile. Here, we turned north (left) and cruised easily on a wide, smooth shoulder downhill all the way back to Gorham. While we missed the peace and quiet of the woods, we got to admire a handsome BIG moose, eating brush along the roadside. Once in town, we stopped at the White Mountain Cafe (212 Main St. Gorham 603-466-2511), one of our favorite places for a caffeinated beverage, lunch and cookie. To finish our ride, we turned left onto Bellevue Place at the sign for the Gorham airport, and flowed this quiet, dead-end street to a big locked gate that conveniently has a well-worn path for bikes and walkers to get around. The packed dirt road took us back to where we had started, at the PRT parking lot on Rte 2.

Including the stops at Mineral Springs bottling plant, short hike to Triple Falls, and wild-life photography, we made the approximately 15 mile trip in less than 3 hours.

Bike-Walk Alliance Conference

Members of the FPRT are planning to attend an all-day conference on bicycle and pedestrian transportation that the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire is sponsoring. The event will be held in Concord at the NH Department of Environmental Services on Wednesday, September 30, 8:30 am to 4 pm. A panel discussion on Rail Trails is scheduled from 10:30 am to noon.

To help publicize the PRT, the Friends have created the poster reproduced here.



Attendance is free. For more information and to register, click on link below;

Bike-Walk Alliance Conference