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Boston Bikeways and Trails

Arnold Arboretum
This 125-year-old Boston city park and Harvard research center was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and has a wonderful set of roads which are mostly closed to motorized traffic. While they were once closed to bicycles, that is no longer true. Peters Hill, on which you now have to walk the last 200 feet to the summit, provides the best grounded view of Boston from within its boundaries. The Arboretum is both part of the Emerald Necklace and a connector to other Boston bikeways, such as Stony Brook Reservation. While this is a Joni-Mitchell-esque "tree museum", it's free and not "a dollar-and-a-half", and it's nice to be able to read the tags and find out just what kind of tree you are riding past. There are many pedestrians, but the roads are wide enough to share. It is especially pleasant to ride through the Arboretum when the weather is less than perfect and there are only a few dog walkers about. The roads are plowed in the winter, but can be icy.
Paul Dudley White Charles River Bikepaths [map]
This 14-mile loop follows both banks of the Charles River from the Museum of Science in Boston to Watertown Square, in--surprise!--Watertown. The quality varies from 12 feet wide with center stripes to 4 feet wide with 6-inch drops at the edges. In some places it is barely wide enough for one bicycle to pass another safely; in others, there are separate bicycle and pedestrian paths. Despite the fact that Federal funds paid for the completion of this bikepath, it remains a constant battle to preserve cyclists' rights to use it in its entirety. The path can be entered at any point on the Cambridge and Watertown sides, from all but the Longfellow and B.U. bridges on the Boston side, and from the footbridges over Storrow Drive. The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) (20 Somerset St., Boston, MA 02108) manages and maintains this path.
Gary Smiley has some great photos of the bad condition of some of this path.
The MDC intends to extend the path upstream through its Upper Charles Reservation, which runs from Watertown to South Natick. An upstream extension to Bridge St. in Watertown on both sides of the river was completed in 1997, and a further extension almost to Moody St. on the south side of the river was completed by early 1998. The Cambridge side of the path is plowed when it snows.
Forest Hills Cemetery
Unlike the more famous local garden cemetary, Cambridge's Mt. Auburn, Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston allows bicyclists to ride through. It is well-landscaped and has many wide roads. During daylight hours, you can usually exit at Walk Hill St. as well as the main Morton St. entrance.
Franklin Park
There are several roads which are closed to traffic in this terminus of the Emerald Necklace which allow a cyclist to circle the park past barriers which prevent cars from getting through. The road to Scarborough Pond is especially beautiful.
Pierre Lallement Southwest Corridor Bikepath
Running through the Southwest Corridor Linear Park along the rapid transit Orange Line are four miles of separate bicycle and pedestrian paths. This path provides an alternative to the congested and otherwise-inhospitable roadways between downtown Boston and its southern neighborhoods. Built by the MBTA, the park is managed by the MDC. It passes within blocks of the house where the inventor of the pedal bicycle, Pierre Lallement, died in the nineteenth century.
Melnea Cass Bikepath
This path was built at the same time as Melnea Cass Boulevard and leads from the Southwest Corridor Linear Park at Ruggles MBTA station toward South Boston. The surface is in horrible shape, but it is better signed than most Boston bikepaths. In September 2007, some of the worst pavement was fixed.
Millenium Park
This 350-acre park, opened on the former Gardner St. Landfill in November 2000, contains several miles of paved bike/ped trails and has great views of the Charles River and the MDC's giant Cutler Park wilderness. There is a bridge over Sawmill Brook connecting the parks paved paths to Brook Farm Reservation's unpaved ones. Drainage on the Brook Farm paths is poor, and they should be walked when muddy.
Muddy River Bikepath
This path runs along the north bank of the Muddy River from Park Drive in Boston almost to Brookline Avenue in Brookline. This pleasant alternative to streets, maintained by the town of Brookline and the city of Boston could be extended to Kenmore Square along an unused railroad right-of-way. On the other end, south of Route 9, Riverside Road has been grassed over and a separated bicycle pedestrian path has been paved to Cypress St. Connection of this path across Route 9 is part of the Emerald Necklace Greenway Project. The Muddy River Restoration Project will affect the path's environment, but it is not clear whether there will be a direct effect on the path itself.
Jamaicaway Bikepath
This path runs from Route 9 on the northwest bank of Leverett Pond along the Jamaicaway to the southeast bank of Jamaica Pond. Maintained by the Boston Department of Parks and Recreation, it follows the bridle path of Frederick Law Olmsted's 1891 design. Extension of this path across Rt. 9 and along the Riverway to Netherlands St., where it can connect to Brookline's Muddy River path, is part of the Emerald Necklace Greenway Project.
Neponset River Greenway
This DCR-owned greenspace includes a railroad right-of-way which extends from the harbor in Dorchester to Central Avenue in Milton. Phase I, from Port Norfolk to Central Avenue in Milton, was paved in 2002. It includes marshes and the Pope John Paul II Park along the Neponset Estuary, and will connect through Port Norfolk to the MDC's Harbor Path. The Boston Natural Areas Fund is looking at extending this path up the Neponset to Readville, where a side spur could easily connect to the Blue Hills. Bike lanes on the Truman Parkway are scheduled to be painted in the fall of 2007. Information about the Neponset River Masterplan is online. The only problem intersection along the trail, the Granite Ave. crossing, received a traffic light in the fall of 2006, as part of the Neponset II parkland development.
Stony Brook Reservation Bikepaths
These little-known bikepaths wind through an MDC reservation Boston's highest point, Bellvue Hill in West Roxbury to the Mother Brook, which connects the Charles and Neponset Rivers, in Hyde Park. Despite its location within Boston, it passes through some very wild terrain and provides an interesting alternative to the heavily traveled parkways which parallel it. Significant trail repair was done in September 2005, but there are still a few places with rough pavement, so cyclists should be careful.
Bike to Logan International Airport
Here is the text from MassBike's pamphlet on biking to and from Boston's Logan International Airport, with hints on flying wth your bike.

Future Boston Bikeways and Trails

Charles River Bikepath Harbor Extension
The Charles River Bikepath can be extended downstream to the Charles River Dam, at least on the north side. It could then connect to a Charlestown Waterfront Path to the north and the Boston Redevelopment Authority's proposed Harbor Walk to the south. Information about the so-called New Charles River Basin is available online.
Charles River Upstream Extension
The Charles River Bikepath can be extended upstream from Waltham to Brook Farm in West Roxbury and to the Mother Brook in Dedham. The MDC is finishing up the end of the Watertown to Waltham center connection. Their plans are available online.
Boston Harbor Walk
The Boston Redevelopment Authority has studied an almost continuous public walk from Charlestown around the North End to South Boston. The MDC is working on a continuous pathway from Castle Island in South Boston to Neponset Circle in Dorchester. The path is complete from Castle Island around Columbia Point, except for 100 feet of grass next to the Kennedy Library, and south along Morrisey Boulevard, though not all of it is in good shape. Some of the best water views of Boston are available from the north side of Columbia Point. There is a bit of path at Victory Road Park, and the MDC has an easement across Boston Gas property which would link this to the Morrisey Ave. drawbridge, bypassing some awkward expressway ramps. The path picks up at Tenean Beach in Port Norfolk, and back streets connect it to the harbor end of the Neponset River Greenway.
Charlestown Waterfront Bikepath
We have the beginning in the Paul Revere Landing Park, which is fairly easily connected to the USS Constitution and the Charlestown Navy Yard, through which bikes, but not cars, can pass. Now the Boston Redevelopment Authority has to reserve waterfront space to get bikes and pedestrians to the Broadway (Route 99) Bridge over the Mystic River. The abandonment of the Mystic Wharf Branch rail line may provide an opportunity for an off-road connection from the harbor to Broadway (Route 99).
East Boston Greenway
An abandoned railroad right-of-way, donated to the Boston Natural Areas Fund in 1996, connects marshes, beaches, playing fields, Logan Airport, MBTA stations, and residential areas throughout the East Boston community. In 1999, ISTEA enhancements money funded construction of the southernmost half-mile, from Boston Harbor north to Logan Airport. A second half-mile, past the Airport MBTA Blue Line station, opened in the summer of 2007. In the future, the greenway will be extended to Belle Isle Marsh, on the Revere border at the northern edge of Boston, largely on MDC-owned land. A path through Constitution Beach already exists.
Emerald Necklace Greenway
MassBike is working on reconnecting Frederick Law Olmsted's original Emerald Necklace of parks and park ways so bicyclists and pedestrians do not have to take their lives in their hands as they try to cross the heavy traffic of the "parkways" along and across this park system which currently includes closed roads in the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park, the Jamaicaway Bikepath and the Muddy River Bikepath.
South Bay Harbor Trail
This 3.5-mile trail will access Inner-City Boston to the Boston Harbor via Melnea Cass Boulevard and the southern Central Artery and Fort Point Channel corridors, connecting recreational and employment opportunities within the emerging South Boston Waterfront District. The South Bay Harbor Trail Coalition, composed of area businesses and institutions as well as community groups and other non-profit entities, led by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is working to coordinate construction and design of new highway infrastructure along the southern reaches of the Central Artery Project. An ISTEA grant is being used to assist in the planning and development of the trail alignment. Significant stretches past the Crosstown Development at Melnea Cass Blvd. and Mass. Ave., under the Southeast Expressway, and along Fort Point Channel are completed, as well as the pre-existing path along Melnea Cass Blvd.
Adopted as a pilot project of the "Campaign for the Water's Edge", more information about Harbor Trail is available through Save the Harbor/Save the Bay of Boston, or (617)-451-2860. Groups or individuals interested in joining the SBHT Coalition may inquire by calling either SHSB or Michael Tyrrell (project founder and planning chair) at 617-441-7739.
West Roxbury Linear Park [Map] [Boston Open Space Plan]
This right-of-way, from the Star Market on Spring St. to the Dedham border, very close to the Dedham Mall, was owned by the MBTA. Originally, the Providence and New Haven line, it was closed in 1941 and later bought by the MBTA, probably at the same time as they acquired what is now the Needham Commuter Rail line. It was nearly intact in the city except for a missing bridge over Spring St. At the Dedham end, it runs into the Super Stop and Shop and is buried by the parking lot there. The bridge over the Mother Brook is long since gone, as is the right of way to Dedham Center. The location of the Dedham station is now the terminus of two trails planned by the Town of Dedham. The line originally continued on to Providence, but the next part of the right-of-way is now buried by U.S. 1. In early 1998, the MBTA expressed interest in selling off part of the line to developers, but no developers were chosen. The MBTA sold off much of the right of way to abutters, including Boston City Councillor John Tobin, in 2006. In deference to neighborhood opposition to a park (and the desire of abutters who may have been politically well-connected to acquire their piece of the right of way), the City of Boston did not get involved.
Winthrop Greenway [Map]
This greenway will be on MDC land along the Winthrop side of the Belle Isle Inlet, eventually connecting the East Boston Greenway to the ocean at Short Beach. The greenway was a footpath, and paving is not planned, but it is interesting due to its connections. It is currently so overgrown as to be almost impassable in many places, though good views are available to those who persist in looking for it.

Last updated September 6, 2007 by