The Winnipesaukee, Opechee and
Winnisquam (WOW) Trail
Laconia, New Hampshire
The WOW Trail is a work in progress. The first phase
of 1.3 miles opened in 2010. When fully built, the asphalt trail
will be nine miles in length.
The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad runs season-
ally between Meredith and Lakeport, N.H., along the shore of
Lake Winnipesaukee. The train passes through Weirs Beach, a
once-thriving tourist destination with grand hotels for summer
visitors from Boston. Weirs Beach is the home of Laconia Mo-
torcycle Week, an annual event held since 1923. At Meredith,
the locomotive is uncoupled and moved to the other end of
the train for the return trip to Lakeport. Fall foliage tours are
particularly popular on the scenic railroad. The rail corridor is
owned by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation
NHDOT). The WOW Trail is a developing trail that runs
within the railroad corridor. As of 2013, 1.3 miles of trail was
open for public use between the Lake Opechee Inn and Spa
in Lakeport and Main Street, Laconia. Additional phases will
eventually bring the trail to nine miles in length, and connect
it with the BRATT Trail in Belmont.
The rail-with-trail segment of the trail is .8 miles in
length. The trail is 10 feet wide and asphalt. The railroad cor-
ridor is 66 feet wide, and the distance between the edge of the
trail and the center of the railroad tracks averages 15 feet. The
trail and railroad tracks are separated by a four-foot chain link
fence through the current section. The trail organization has
been working with NHDOT and the railroad to permit the
use of more aesthetically-pleasing fence on future development
phases. Segments of the rail and the trail run along the shore
of Lake Winnipesauke. The excursion train runs on week-
ends from Memorial Day through June, then daily through
Labor Day, and again on weekends until the end of October.
The train runs once a day, and travels at an average speed of
between 10 and 15 mph.
According to Diane Hanley, past president of the
nonprofit WOW Trail organization, the railroad is “tolerating
the development of phase two of the trail.” The railroad par-
ticipates in the trail design process on an as-needed basis, but
otherwise does not aid the WOW Trail group in overcoming
trail development challenges. Eventually, the trail could be de-
veloped along the railroad right-of-way all the way to Franklin.
More information:
Diane Hanley)