Bicycle and Pedestrian Networks

Taunton River Trail

The Taunton River Trail is a vision for a 22-mile bicycle and pedestrian path extending along the Taunton River connecting urban and rural neighborhoods, businesses, and recreational areas.

About the Taunton River Trail

The Taunton River Trail (TRT) is the product of decades of tireless advocacy and community engagement, and will provide safe transportation, fitness, and recreation along the federally-designated Wild & Scenic Taunton River. The TRT, once realized, will be a continuous 22+ mile network of shared use path extending from the mouth of the Taunton River at Fall River Heritage State Park northward through Fall River, Somerset, Dighton, and Taunton mostly along the federally designated Wild & Scenic Taunton River, and linking into the terminus of the Mansfield/Norton WWII Veterans Memorial Trail, which continues north for an additional 7 miles. The Taunton River Trail would connect directly into many dense urban areas in Fall River and Taunton and serve as a commuter bikeway into and out of those cities as well as the backbone of a high-comfort and low stress bicycle network along the Taunton River, providing safe cycling for everyday trips and recreational purposes.

The original design concept for the Taunton River Trail, consisting of a trail linking Pierce Beach in Somerset to the Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Sanctuary in Taunton, was first completed as a study in 1994 by students at the Conway School of Landscape Design for SRPEDD. Since its initial design concept, the TRT vision has been extended to ensure connectivity with other trail networks in the region. Once fully realized, the Taunton River Trail will serve as an essential north/south backbone route, linking into the South Coast Bikeway route in Somerset and Fall River to enable safe bicycle and pedestrian travel through Southeastern Massachusetts into Rhode Island, Cape Cod, and eventually the Greater Boston region.

For more up to date information on the Taunton River Trail, see the Regional Bike Networks sections of the Regional Bicycle Plan.

Key Route Destinations

Listed from south to north: Fall River Waterfront Cultural District, Battleship Cove, Fall River Heritage State Park, Bicentennial Park, Veteran's Memorial Bridge, Slade's Ferry Crossing District, Pierce Beach & Playground, Village Waterfront Park, Broad Cove Coastal Access Trail, Broad Cove Nature Trail, Sweets Knoll State Park, Bristol County Agricultural High School, Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Sanctuary, Weir Village, Weir Riverfront Park, Memorial Park, Downtown Taunton, Whittenton Village, Mansfield/Norton WWII Veteran's Memorial Trail.

Construction & Planning

FALL RIVER

Construction is ongoing for 2+ miles of shared use path along the Taunton River waterfront, as a part of MassDOT's Route 79/Davol Street Project in Fall River. Once construction is complete in 2026, the Taunton River Trail shared use path will be fully complete from Battleship Cove north to the intersection of Riverside Ave and Newhill Ave in Somerset.

piles of dirt and heavy machinery working in the area of Route 79 along the waterfront in Fall River
MassDOT's Fall River Route 79/Davol Street demolition and reconstruction project began in 2023.

SOMERSET

In 2023 and 2024, SRPEDD and the Town of Somerset will create a Slade's Ferry Neighborhood Plan, which will build upon the previous planning efforts for Slade's Ferry and help to guide the redevelopment of this neighborhood which sits at the crossroads of the Taunton River Trail and South Coast Bikeway regional bicycle and pedestrian travel routes.

DIGHTON

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is currently in the process of designing and engineering a 2-mile shared use path through Sweets Knoll State Park in Dighton along the former railroad right-of-way.

TAUNTON

In May 2023, the Southeastern Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (SMMPO) voted to fund $11M for construction of a Taunton shared use path segment of the Taunton River Trail within the FFY2024-2028 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), with a target date for construction in 2028. This 2.5-mile pathway will run along the former railroad right-of-way from Weir Street in Taunton to the former rail junction at Railroad Avenue in Taunton.

Taunton River Trail Map

Local Points of Interest

This map created by the Taunton Pathway Committee's showcases many points of interest along the Taunton River Trail between Taunton and Somerset​. BLUE sections of the map are planned to be interim on-road bike lanes, and GREEN sections of the map are current or planned bike path. Credit: Friends of Taunton Pathways.

 

MARCH 2024 UPDATE: SRPEDD staff are working on updated GIS maps for the Taunton River Trail. New maps should be available by April 2024.

 

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Regional Bike & Pedestrian Planning

Bicycle & Pedestrian Planning

SRPEDD staff assist communities across Southeastern Massachusetts in planning for improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, including everything from rail trails and shared use paths to sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Learn more about SRPEDD's bicycle and pedestrian network planning work in the region.

Regional Bicycle Plan

For a more in depth look at the development of the Taunton River Trail, read the Taunton River Trail sub chapter of the 2024 Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Bicycle Plan.

2024 Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Bicycle Plan

About 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. 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. 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, Pierce Beach. To learn more about how you can contribute to preserving the rich biodiversity and habitats along the Taunton River, check out the resources available from the Resilient Taunton Watershed Network.