Wild and Scenic Taunton River

Taunton River Trail

The Taunton River Trail is a 22 mile trail that extends along the Taunton River connecting residents to their local land, and providing them with the opportunity for biking, bird watching, kayaking, and other recreational activities. The trail is the product of decades of tireless advocacy and community engagement.

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Taunton River Trail sees $4.8 million in potential funding

About the Taunton River Trail

The slowly meandering miles of the Taunton River will surprise you with an unexpected scenic beauty and varied wildlife. Its landscape, like the river itself, is gentle and accessible, perfect for families and casual or novice recreationists. Pastures, woodlands, meadows and marshlands along the river banks are rich with nesting birds like kingfisher, osprey and heron, providing an outdoor experience that feels surprisingly removed from the city. The Taunton is also rich in history, with examples of colonial millworks and stories of early contact between English settlers and the Wampanoag. Whether it’s a bike ride with friends, family picnic, or quiet evening paddle, Taunton River Pathways offers many ways to explore and find new adventures and treasures that have been here all along.

The Taunton River Trail is a proposed 22 miles of on and off road trails that would enhance walking, biking, hiking, and boating along the Taunton River. Once complete The Trail is a truly collaborative effort, conducted in tandem with numerous towns, organizations, and passionate individiuals throughout the region. Read more about individual project partners at the bottom of this webpage.

a two-track approach

On-road Planning and Steps

1. Make use of existing railroad rights-of-way for future bike path development;
2. Connect the city center, the Taunton Green, to current and future recreational opportunities;
3. Rejuvenate the Weir Neighborhood in conjunction with the currently under-construction Linear Park;
4. Provide linkages to Taunton's many parks, open spaces, and river connections - like the Boyden Wildlife Refuge, Memorial Park, and the Taunton River among others;
5. Make connections to the communities of Dighton and Somerset, to allow all area residents to enjoy the tremendous recreational opportunities in Taunton, while providing for connections to other regional green spaces such as Sweets Knoll State Park in Dighton, and Pierce Beach in Somerset.

This map depicts the Taunton River Pathway's vision for the Taunton River Trail​. BLUE sections of the map are on-road, and GREEN sections of the map are current or future off-road biking and walking paths. Credit: Taunton River Pathways

Off-road Planning

Phase 1: 
Phase 1 consists of the segments that are on the railroad bed. There is a possibility that we could contract with Iron Horse Preservation Society, a Nevada-based nonprofit that removes abandoned railroads and converts them into rail-trails. This would come at a low cost, as the rail would be sold to cover as many of the expenses as possible. If contracting with Iron Horse does not play out, we would then look to create a path that is at least walkable while we pursue other alternatives. This could be done in partnership with several organizations.

The spur that goes off the railroad bed and connects to West Water St. is a drainage easement on the property of 491 West Water St. Using this easement to connect the trail to the Weir Village Riverfront Park would be the preferred route. This is because continuing on the railroad bed to 5th St. would present challenges, as there would be a steep incline from the street to the railroad bed and any ramp would be in very close proximity to adjacent land.

Phase 2: 
Phase 2 would be half of the segment that would reroute the trail around TMLP. This portion of the rerouting would utilize the access road that will be built to service the solar array that TMLP is planning on constructing. The access road could double as the trail, or the trail could be an extension of the access road. Utilizing the solar array access road would limit the clearing of any additional vegetation in this area for the trail. As a result, this would lower the cost associated with this segment of the trail.

Phase 3:
Phase 3 would be the remaining segment connecting the railroad bed north of TMLP to the solar array access road. This area is mostly wooded and would require complete clearing of the segment. In addition, there may be wetlands that would dictate the exact route that would need to be taken.

About The Taunton River

The network of streams and rivers comprising the Taunton River basin drains five hundred and sixty two square miles of the southeastern part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The river begins in the town of Bridgewater, Massachusetts at the confluence of the Matfield and Town Rivers. It is the second largest drainage area in Massachusetts and has one of the flattest courses in the state. Its level terrain creates extensive wetlands throughout the basin, including the 16,950 acre Hockomock Swamp, one of the largest wetlands in New England. Saltwater intrusion occurs as far as twelve miles upstream (the confluence with the Three Mile River) with tidal changes noticeable eighteen miles upstream. The Taunton remains fairly uniform in width within its freshwater portion, then broadens into an estuary (downstream of the Berkley Bridge).

Critical habitat areas along the Taunton include the Winnetuxet River, the Nemasket River, the Poquoy Brook, the Tidal Oxbow, and the Three Mile River.

The Taunton River is the longest undammed coastal river in New England and provides excellent habitat for all life stages of fish. The river contains warm-water fisheries, including riverine fish (fish that require flowing conditions), habitat generalists (fish that can live in rivers or ponds), and "estuarine wanderers" that move between estuary and freshwater.

The Taunton River provided a wide range of rich natural resources to support a sizable prehistoric population. Records of stone and wooden fish weirs indicate that the first settlers were taught about the use of fishing places by Native People. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, iron and other metal related industries grew prosperous in the Taunton area, and it became known as the "Silver City". This area also became the largest textile producing center in the U.S. in 1860. Shipbuilding and commerce were at their height between 1700 and 1900.

With over forty miles of navigable channels, The Taunton River is a great place to canoe, kayak, sail or fish. Since the land along the Taunton River is largely undeveloped, the banks remain naturally vegetated. The numerous types of trees mixed with the golden brush, create a colorful pallet. Many maples reach out over the river, their brilliant foliage reflecting in the water.

Bike trails and walking paths are being developed and greenways are open to public along the tributaries as well. Several recreational sites have been preserved along the river, including camping and conservation areas. Furthermore, Somerset has the only public beach on the Taunton River.

The Taunton River's 2009 designation as a Wild & Scenic River has served as a powerful catalyst for land protection efforts along the river and its major tributaries. Collaborations with private/public entities, state agencies, and land trusts, have resulted in the protection of more than 1,500 acres.