New England Trail

NENST Scan  Full size for webIt’s funny how trails evolve. Many long distance trail systems began as smaller trail systems that became linked over time. This is certainly true in the case of the New England Trail.

The Connecticut Forest & Park Association organized the construction and maintenance of the Matacomet and Mattabesett Trails in the 1930s, as part of a statewide vision for a blue-blazed hiking trail system.

Further north, in 1951, a professor of botany at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst named Walter Banfield led a small group that began creating an extension of Connecticut’s Matacomet Trail that would extend to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.

Professor Walter Banfield, forever known and admired as “the father of the Matacomet-Monadnock Trail”

Connecting the two trail systems and adding the 17-mile Menunkatuck Trail to the south created a continuous 215 mile footpath through two states  now known as the New England Trail.

As a side note, it is possible to continue north from Mount Monadnock to Sunapee Mountain in New Hampshire, via the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail (a distance of 49.1 miles), which my friend Wayne Cyr and I did in the late 1990s.

In the spring of 2015, we set out to spend a week hiking north on the New England Trail from the Connecticut shore to as far north as we could get in one week — a trip to be covered in my blog.

1991 Trail Guides
My well worn 1991 trail guides. The Matacomet-Monadnock section is one of two trails that traverse Massachusetts from the CT border to the NH Border. (The other is the Midstate Trail, which Wayne and I completed in three separate trips.)





One thought on “New England Trail

  1. Thanks for the history, I remember doing some AT trail clearing with Walter Banfield in the ’50s when we lived in western Mass. One did not want to hike too close to Walter when clearing he had a wide swing with his tools.
    I enjoyed my time in with the AT, we went to Echo Lake camp too.

    Right now we are on vacation in North Carolina, hiked part of the Bartrum trial today.
    Bob Heider
    St. Louis MO

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