Frequently Asked Questions
What is the New England National Scenic Trail?
More commonly known as the New England Trail (NET), the New England National Scenic Trail is a 215-mile hiking trail through 41 communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The NET received official National Scenic Trail status in 2009, although most of the route has been in existence for over half a century. The NET is comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock (M-M-M) Trail systems. It is one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the country and is the only one that lies entirely in New England.
Is it possible to thru-hike the NET, and what types of hiker resources are available on the trail?
It’s possible to hike from Long Island Sound in Guilford, CT all the way to the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border. There are limited cabins, lean-tos, and campsites available for hikers. Please keep in mind that much of the trail is on private property and “stealth camping” is not permitted. NET managers promote Leave-No-Trace backcountry ethics and hope overnight hikers and backpackers will leave a site in better condition than they found it. The best resources for planning both single-day and multi-day hikes are the interactive map and hike finder on the NET website.
Who is responsible for managing and maintaining the NET?
The principal stewards of the NET are the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA) in Connecticut and the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) in Massachusetts. The primary role of the National Park Service (NPS) is to assist CFPA and AMC in implementing the Management Blueprint and coordinating the expenditure of federal funds for trail management and protection. A Trail Stewardship Council in both CT and MA helps guide implementation of the Trail Management Blueprint.
What’s the role of volunteers in maintaining the NET?
Volunteers are the NET’s most valuable resource. The NET could not be maintained without the dedicated efforts of hard-working volunteers! Volunteer maintainers have basic responsibilities for each section of trail, and work parties are organized for larger projects throughout the year. Visit the NET’s events calendar to find upcoming projects near you.
Why was New England National Scenic Trail designation important for the M-M-M Trail, and what specific changes have resulted?
National Scenic Trail designation provides the following administrative and financial support:
Federal assistance to buy land or interests in land to permanently protect public access. NPS works in partnership with local public and non-profit organizations for the trail’s protection and management.
Staff to provide technical assistance in managing the trail and maintaining regular communications among stakeholders, including website maintenance and meeting coordination, and to provide public information on the trail. With NPS financial support, both CFPA and AMC have staff dedicated to supporting volunteer trail maintainers and working on the long-term protection of the NET.
A Stewardship Council serves as an advisory board representing the interests of different trail stakeholders working together to implement the Management Blueprint. CFPA and AMC collaborate with local partners and communities in managing the trail.
The Trail Management Blueprint is the framework for managing and administering the NET. Contained in the NPS feasibility study and referenced in the designating legislation, the blueprint addresses critical landowner issues. Many blueprint actions are dependent on funding. Example provisions include establishing a system for ongoing communication with landowners; and not requiring or establishing a specific trail system corridor.
What is the status of the NET re-route in Massachusetts?
A. The NET includes a deviation from the historic M-M-M Trail route in Massachusetts. The AMC and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have worked together to identify the new 22-mile portion of the trail route, which crosses more DCR lands in Pelham and Shutesbury. Visit the NET’s interactive map to learn more.
What additional resources are needed to permanently protect public access and manage the NET?
Public support for open space funding is key for the long-term viability of the trail. Funding and volunteerism for trail projects, such as boardwalks, bridges, relocations, and campsites to ensure that the trail is inviting and protects natural resources, are also critical. Funding will also support ongoing user education to introduce new and more diverse populations to the tremendous, nearby experience the NET offers, as well as engaging people in stewardship. Supporting AMC and CFPA means supporting staff who manage the trail and work with landowners to ensure the long-term stability and protection of the Trail.
What percentage of the NET is currently located on public land (state and municipal)?
In Massachusetts, approximately 65% of the NET is located on public land. In Connecticut, it’s approximately 30%.
How does the NET work with landowners?
Local partnerships among stakeholders, including landowners, are key for managing the NET. Since receiving National Scenic Trail designation in 2009, additional staff capacity has been available to quickly resolve landowner questions and maintain more consistent communication through annual reports and field visits as needed.
What is the future of the New Hampshire section of the M-M-M Trail System?
The Trail Committee of the Berkshire Chapter of AMC continues to coordinate with the maintainers of the NH section of trail. The designation language encourages the NPS to work with the state of New Hampshire and local organizations on the possible future extension of National Scenic Trail designation into NH, but the near-term focus is ensuring that it is adequately maintained for current and future hikers.
What is the NET’s policy on trail use by snowmobiles, equestrians, and ATVs?
States regulate trail usage on public lands, and private landowners individually determine what is permitted on stretches of trail that traverse their properties. Check regulations before heading out on the NET.