Bikeways and Trails
[Massachusetts Bikeways] [Boston (Future)] [Metro Boston (Future)]
[Northeastern Mass. (Future)] [Southeastern Mass. (Future)] [Central Mass. (Future)] [Western Mass. (Future)] [Cape Cod and the Islands] [Bikeways Elsewhere] [Display with frames]

Metro Boston Bikeways and Trails

Assabet River Rail Trail
A group of citizens is working to establish a 12.5-mile bike and pedestrian path on a long-abandoned railroad right-of-way paralleling the Assabet River through Hudson, Stow, and Maynard, with connections to Marlborough and the MBTA commuter rail station in South Acton. In 1998, all five communities started to acquire land for the trail.
As of October 2003, 1.25 miles of the trail are paved in Marlborough and 0.6 miles are graded in Maynard. Construction of the next 5 miles (all of Hudson and Marlborough) started in September 2003 and is scheduled to finish in 12 months.
Battle Road Trail
This multi-use 6-mile interpretative, stone-dust surfaced trail is part of the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln and Concord. It provides cycling/walking access to the park's spectacular historical and natural resource areas. Free bike tours are led by park rangers are offered every other Sunday afternoon (Jun-Oct). This is for pedestrians, wheelchairs and bikes; if you are trying to get somewhere fast, use either Route 2A, or Virginia Road and Route 62.
Bay Circuit Trail [map]
Focused on a 200 mile corridor of 50 cities and towns, the Bay Circuit Trail is an outer "Emerald Necklace" of metropolitan Boston, linking Plum Island and Newburyport on the North Shore to Duxbury on the South Shore. Over 120 miles of multi-use, passive recreational trail have been dedicated, and the Bay Circuit Alliance is working to build the rest. Some, but not all, of the trail is open to cyclists. Most is unpaved and will remain so.
Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail-Trail
This three-mile-long stone-dust right-of-way runs from the end of the Minuteman Bikeway in Bedford to Billerica. This bikeway is believed to be the only rail-trail in the country constructed over a two-foot narrow-gauge railroad right-of-way. The route was built in 1877 by the Billerica & Bedford Railroad, America's first two-foot common-carrier railway. In 1885, the line was rebuilt into the standard-gauge Lexington Branch. It was abandoned in 1962.
Fitchburg Cutoff Bikepath
This little-known rail-trail conversion runs for about a mile west from the northwest corner of the Alewife MBTA station to Brighton St. near the Cambridge-Belmont line. The surface is crushed stone, but it can be quite rideable. A useful bypass to Concord Avenue in Cambridge and Lake Street in Arlington, it is maintained by the Metropolitan District Commission as part of the Alewife Brook Reservation. The Mass. Highway Department is planning to cover it with an ADA-acceptable soft surface, and the DCR is thinking of building a bridge to connect it to the Alewife MBTA station. The Town of Belmont is looking at ways to connect their end to Belmont Center, possibly along the unused third track right-of-way of the MBTA's Fitchburg line.
Lexington Bike Routes
Fourteen bicycle routes, 82 miles total, provide convenient ways to travel within Lexington. Most have one end at the town border on a road that enters a neighboring town. Many have the other end at Lexington Center where the first shots of the American Revolutio were fired. Others connect to middle schools. Several use or connect with the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. Three connect with the Minuteman National Historical Park. Each of the routes has separate cue sheets for the ride in each direction. Each cue sheet lists mileages, actions, and landmarks. These rides make good use of existing bicycle paths, identified bicycle lanes, and quiet residential streets.
Minuteman Commuter Bikeway [map]
This MBTA-owned railroad right-of-way runs from the Alewife station in Cambridge through Arlington and Lexington to Bedford. The first hundred yards, from the northwest corner of the Alewife station, under Route 2, and across a field to the original start of the bikeway is being fixed up in 1998. At the Alewife end, the bikeway connects to the previous two bikepaths. At the Bedford end, where the Bedford Depot Park is being built, it connects to an unpaved path to Billerica, the proposed Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail-Trail. While it was built by the state, maintenance and policing is by the towns of Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. Menotomy Vintage Bicycles has online maps of the original railroad.
More Minuteman information.
Mystic River Bikepaths [watershed map]
The DCR has a system of bikepaths along the Mystic River in Medford and Somerville. It could be connected to the Minuteman Bikeway by a spur along parkland along Alewife Brook, to Boston Harbor with an extension through Charlestown, and to points north.
In 2001, the City of Somerville started working toward a connection across Route 28 on the Somerville side in the Assembly Square area.
Red Line Linear Park Bikepath
When Red Line rapid transit was extended from Davis Square in Somerville to Alewife Brook in Cambridge, it was covered with a surface-level linear park. A wide, paved path runs through this long, narrow park, with only one awkward street crossing at Massachusetts Avenue. There is bicycle access from Cambridge and Somerville to the Alewife MBTA station, where connections can be made to the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway and the Fitchburg Cutoff Bikepath. The park was built by the MBTA and is maintained by the cities of Cambridge and Somerville. An 0.8-mile paved extension of this path from Davis Square to Cedar St. in Somerville was opened in 1995.
Upper Charles Reservation
The Charles River Bikepaths have been extended upstream by the Metropolitan Distric Commission from Watertown Square on both sides of the river to Bridge St. and on the Newton side of the river from Farwell to Spring St. (almost to Moody St. There is a further segment on the north side of the river upstream from Moody St. This is one of the newest bikepaths in Boston and a model of environmentaly sensitive design. It is not a high-speed path, but provides many beautiful views of the river and its wildlife. Contruction began in 2003 on the missing segment from Bridge St. to Farwell St. Eventually these paths could be extended upstream to the DCR's Cutler Park, Brook Farm, and Mother Brook Reservations. This trail is not to be confused with the Upper Charles Trail, which is many miles upstream, near the headwaters of the same river.
Wompatuck State Park [Map]
Miles of paved paths crisscross this former ammunition depot in Hingham. The terrain is rolling with very little elevation change.

Future Metro Boston Bikeways and Trails

Alewife Brook Bikepath
The DCR is once again looking at building a bikepath in the Alewife Reservation along Alewife Brook, on the stretch where it forms the border between Cambridge and Somerville and Arlington, parallelling the Alewife Brook Parkway. This would provide a connection between the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway and the Mystic River bikepath system, when that system is extended upstream past Medford Square. A study completed in 1993 was released in April of 1997, and it looks like public meetings may be happening in 2002 or 2003. The Friends of the Commutity Path in Somerville is organizing community support for this path.
Bay Colony Rail Trail
A group of people from Needham, Dover, and Medfield is looking at this 6.5-mile abandoned rail corridor owned by the MBTA for a rail trail. It runs through Dover Center and almost to the centers of Needham and Medfield, passes near several large wild areas, and has few road crossings.
Bike to the Sea (map)
A group of cyclists in Malden thought up this rail-with-trail bikepath from the center of Malden through Everett to Revere Beach . A preliminary feasibility study was undertaken in 1995. There are possible connections to the north and to the Mystic River bikepaths.
The City of Everett has applied for design money for the first phase of the Bike to the Sea path. This runs along a rail line that parallels the Malden River. The private developer of the old Monsanto property has committed to extend the path across that property. The developer has sought Bike to the Sea's assistance in connecting a road and the path to Route 99 near the Mystic Station Power plant at the Boston line. Even if the developer does not come through on the underpass, the path can easily go under the Salem MBTA line Mystic River bridge and connect to Route 99.
Bruce Freeman Trail
The 25-mile Framingham & Lowell Railroad right-of-way is being converted into a multi-purpose rail trail. $4.2 million has been awarded for Phase 1 construction of a 7-mile stretch running from Cross Point Towers in Lowell under Route 3 through Chelmsford Center and into Westford near Route 225. Construction should begin in the fall of 2007 (two years late) and take two years. The rail trail will consist of a 10-foot wide paved path with graded shoulders.

Phase 2, a 13-mile stretch that runs from Westford though Carlisle, Acton, Concord, and into Sudbury, will terminate at Route 20. There has been activity in Acton, Concord and Sudbury with preliminary engineering, environmental and design studies being performed on the rail trail. Some obstacles to overcome will be a lumberyard encroachment, a Route 2 crossing near the Acton/Concord town line and a new Assabet River bridge in Concord. The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail will connect with the Mass. Central Rail Trail in Sudbury.

Phase 3, a 5-mile stretch owned by CSX Railroad, runs from Route 20 in Sudbury to Route 9 in Framingham. A CTPS feasibility study is being updated on this portion of the right-of-way. A group called Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail has been incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) to provide support for the rail trail and has a web site at

Central Mass. Rail Trail
West from the end of the proposed Wayside Rail Trail in Berlin, the Central Mass. Line, while in private hands, is mostly undeveloped and may be recoverable. There is a wonderful 1/4-mile tunnel in Clinton right above the Wachusett Reservoir Dam which could be the terminus of a 40-mile-long trail from Boston. This trail parallels US. 20 through Waltham, Weston, Wayland, and Sudbury, then heads northwest through Hudson and Berlin to Clinton. After the reservoir, the right-of-way continues across the middle of the state, south around the Quabbin Reservoir, to Amherst, where the Norwottuck Trail follows it to Northampton. Various groups are working on the sections of the right-of-way in their towns. West Boylston got a state greenway grant to develop a mile-and-a-half section.
Cochituate Rail Trail (Framingham) (Natick)
This projected rail trail utilizes the Saxonville Branch Line roadbed to create a thickly-wooded, multi-use linear park from the commuter-rail station in downtown Natick north along Lake Cochituate and to the day-use area of Cochituate State Park, plus car-free bike access past major highways to the very popular Natick Mall, Shoppers World and the Logan Express airport bus terminal in Framingham. The northern section, along the west bank of Cochituate Brook and up to Route 126 at the Sudbury River in Saxonville, will provide the same access from north of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Side branches will attach schools and other neighborhoods.

For Framingham's 1.3-mile stretch, the rails and ties have been removed, the trail has been cleared of trash and brush, and we expect to open a short section of trail this spring. The entire Framingham section should be open by the end of 2006. Once the trail is open, funding will be needed to make improvements.

In Natick, it may be possible to complete a connection to the Natick Mall within the next few years, but most of this section is still an active freight line. It's not clear when it will become available for trail use. Also, it may take time to negotiate with CSX and secure funding for the purchase of the property.

The entire path promises a well-wooded 3.8-mile bike and walking trail through a very dense, high-speed highway network, with inter-community connectivity to parks, the major recreational lake in eastern Massachusetts, schools, shopping destinations, commuter rail and local, inter-city and airport buses.

Dedham Rail-Trail
An abandoned rail line from the Readville station in Boston runs past the high school and almost to Route 1. Connections can be made to quite a bit of Dedham's greenspace from this right-of-way, and it is being considered as part of Dedham's Open Space Plan along with other bicycle amenities.
Minuteman Commuter Bikeway Extension
The Bedford Selectmen have expressed interest in extending the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway from its current terminus in Bedford to the Concord town line near Route 62. Concord's portion of the right-of-way is currently passable but not in good shape. Extension of the Minuteman Bikeway from Concord to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in West Concord on the old right-of-way faces major obstacles and will most likely require use of Route 62 as a connection.
Minuteman Charles River Connector
Cathy Lewis of the state's Central Transportation Planning Staff is working with local governments and citizens to create formal connecting routes and paths between the end of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway at Alewife Station in Cambridge and the Charles River bikepaths. Arlington and Cambridge are building the first part of this connector by extending the path, with its own bridge over the Little River/Alewife Brook, to Alewife Station. Construction began in the fall of 1997.
Mystic Crossing [web site with map]
Mystic Crossing's core mission is to increase the vitality of the Lower Mystic Basin thru construction of continuous and accessible pedestrian and bicycle connection across the Amelia Earhart Dam. This would connect the Draw 7 Path and the Assembly Square area in Somerville with the future Bike to the Sea bikepath which will run from Malden to Lynn. Eventually, connections can be made to the Charles River Bikepaths and the future Somerville Community Path, too. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation received $250,000 to plan this connection in January 2004 from Exelon, the operator of the Everett power generating station, as part of an EPA penalty for polluting the air. Design work will begin by June 1, 2004, and will be completed within one year. The bike path will be completed and open to public by June 1, 2006.
Somerville Community Path [map]
The Community Path is a proposed linear park that would connect the existing bicycle/community path, which connects to the Red Line Linear Park and thus to the Minuteman Bikeway, from where it ends at Cedar Street to Lechmere and eventually to downtown Boston. It would go along the abandoned railroad right of way to Lowell Street; then parallel the railroad tracks at street level (along the embankment) to City Hall/Somerville High School; it would descend into the railroad right of way before the McGrath Highway and continue to Lechmere, separated from the Commuter Rail and future Green Line trains by a fence and a safe distance. Other routes are also under consideration.
The Friends of the Path are urging the City of Somerville to apply for a DEM Greenways Grant to start construction of the trail.
Assembly Square/Mystic River Connection
The Somerville Office of Housing and Community Development is working with the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Metropolitan District Commission, and private developers in the Assembly Square area to design and build a bicycle and pedestrian connection along the Mystic River under the Wellington Bridge. This "undercarriage" connection would connect the Somerville-side Mystic River Reservation paths to Assembly Square and the existing Draw Seven Path. It would connect Somerville's entire riverfront.
Tri-Community Bikeway ( map)
This path through Woburn, Winchester, and Stoneham would connect the Mystic River, the Middlesex Fells, and the Bike to the Sea path, as well as much of the parkland in these three communities.
Upper Charles Trail [photos] [ map]
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council conducted a feasibility study for this trail which would run mostly on abandoned railroad rights-of-way through Framingham, Sherborn, Holliston, Milford, Hopkinton, and Ashland for at distance of 24 miles. The Town of Holliston has a website describing their portion, part of which is already a trail.
Watertown Branch Rail Trail
This not-yet-abandoned right-of-way runs from just behind the Fresh Pond Cinemas in Cambridge, past Fresh Pond through Kingsley Park, under Huron Ave and Mount Auburn St., past Mount Auburn Cemetery and on to Watertown Square est of and roughly parallel to Arsenal St. Other than the difficult crossing of Concord Ave., it could provide a traffic-free connection from the Minuteman Bikeway and Danehy Park bikepaths to the Charles River bikepaths in Watertown Square. With some creativity, it might be possible to make a connection near the Arsenal St. bridge as well. Acuisition from Alewife to School St. is currently being studied by the Massachusetts EOTC. The City of Watertown is planning construction from Grove to School Streets for Summer 2004.
Wayside Rail Trail
The MBTA owns the Waltham to Hudson section of the unused Central Mass. Line right-of-way, which runs from the Belmont border of Waltham to Northampton. On April 3, 1997, the state Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) released a preliminary feasibility study for a trail on 23 miles of this right-of-way from Waltham through Weston, Wayland, Sudbury, and Hudson to Berlin. By January 1, 1998, all of these towns except Weston approved the project. An inward extension through Belmont to Cambridge which would connect through the Fitchburg Cutoff Trail to the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway, Red Line Linear Park, and the MBTA Red Line Rapid Transit. To find out more about current activity on this trail, click here or contact Dick Williamson at

Last updated June 25, 2008 by Doug Mink