By: GSA Bobbie Goodrich, GSA Silver Anniversary Class of 2021
One end of the 12 mile Cotton Valley Rail Trail is in Wakefield, NH. Wakefield was an important area for the railroads. One line was from Dover to N. Conway and another line went to Wolfeboro. A short branch of the rail line went to Lovell Lake, where there was a massive ice cutting business comprised of 3 rival ice cutting companies to provide ice to Boston.
At the Wakefield end of the trail, there is parking at Turntable Park with a playground & picnic tables nearby. Next to Turntable Park is Lino’s Restaurant, where you can get a great and reasonable breakfast or lunch. About 100 yds. away is Tumbledown Restaurant for lunch or dinner, and they have an ice cream shop with outdoor seating for both. Another 100yds. and you will come to Poor People’s Pub for lunch or dinner, a local landmark for about 40 yrs. Across from the Pub is the Lovell Lake Boat launch where you can put in a canoe, kayak or power boat. The town beach and playground are nearby.
The Rail trail crosses Rt. 16 about a mile from Turntable Park and the Miss Wakefield Diner is on the left for breakfast or lunch. Continue per the map through the area known as Cotton Valley, and at the intersection of the trail with Rt 109 in Wolfeboro, there is the Fernald Railroad Station. There is a large parking lot there.
Next you will be approaching Albee Beach (public) which has a very nice bath house and beach. If you are driving, the parking at Albee Beach is for Wolfeboro residents, but if you’re hiking or biking, you will be within 100′ of the bath house and beach, and it’s an awesome way to cool off.
Next comes a great section of the Rail Trail where you will go on a slightly elevated section of the old rail bed that goes right through a portion of Crescent Lake. There are several granite memorial benches where you can rest and enjoy the lake views.
Just after this section of the Rail Trail, you will pass the Mast Landing Boat Launch, with adjacent parking for boaters.
The Rail Trail then proceeds a short distance to within about 100 yds. of the Wright Museum (which would be to the south of the rail trail). Songbird Restaurant (Asian cuisine) is just off the Rail Trail. You will then be crossing Rt. 109, and in less than 1/2 mi. you will see the Wolfeboro Back Bay on your right. This is the home of the Back Bay Skippers, a radio-controlled model boat club and the Abenaki Waterski Club, which maintains a jump ramp and waterski course and hosts 4 sanctioned waterskiing events this summer. See Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce Events schedule.
There is a large public parking lot and more granite benches at the Back Bay section of the Rail Trail. If you keep a sharp eye on the Back Bay, you may see some of the antique and classic boats coming from the marina on the far side of the bay. Lyman, Chris-Craft and Hacker boats are often seen there.
Continue hiking or biking a very short distance and you will be at the Wolfeboro Railroad Station, which is the office of the Chamber and the info. booth for Wolfeboro. All the attractions and dining of Wolfeboro are just steps away. A full day of fun for all ages!