Bikeways and Trails
[Massachusetts Bikeways] [Boston (Future)] [Metro Boston (Future)]
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Metro Boston North Bikeways and Trails

Battle Road Trail/Minuteman NHP
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.
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 MDC 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. This is the most popular rail trail conversion in the country, according to the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy.
More Minuteman information.
Mystic River Bikepaths [watershed map]
The MDC 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 O'Brien Highway (Route 28) on the Somerville side in the Assembly Square area.
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.
Ric Bayly's C harles River Recreation page has some information, including a map with mileages.
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.
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.
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 is currently a footpath, and paving is not planned, but it is interesting due to its connections.

Future Metro Boston North Bikeways and Trails

Alewife Brook Bikepath (not on map)
The MDC is now looking at building a bikepath along Alewife Brook, in Cambridge, Arlington, and Somerville, parallelling the Alewife Brook Parkway. This would provide a connection between the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway and the Mystic River bikepath system, if that system is extended, as planned, upstream past Medford Square. A study completed in 1993 was released in April of 1997.
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.
Boston & Albany Rail-Trail
The Cambridge Bicycle Committee has looked at a path along this infrequently used railroad line (which is also the focus of the proposed Urban Ring). Its bridge over the Charles into the Conrail freight yard would also make a desireable bicycle and pedestrian river crossing. There is currently one unused track which could be connected if the railroad would come around. This railroad line will not be abandoned until a north-south rail link is built between North and South Stations as it is by far the most direct connection between the main rail lines south and west of Boston and those north of Boston.
East Boston Greenway
The Trust for Public Land has been working since 1994 with Boston Natural Areas Fund and local advocates to help the city acquire an abandoned rail corridor in East Boston for use as a greenway and bike trail. In 1997, Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) donated the 1.2-mile corridor to the TPL and the Boston Natural Areas Fund. Construction on the first phase began in 1999, but there was a year delay due to unforeseen drainage problems. Paving was completed in 2001, and the trail will open in Spring of 2002. The routing of Phase 2 has become uncertain due to airport security issues.
Minuteman Commuter Bikeway Extension/Reformatory Branch
The right-of-way used by the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway continues westward through Bedford and Concord to Acton. The trail is dirt, and quite good as far as Concord. Trail maps are available at the Bedford Depot store. Without a map it can be a challenge to locate the entrances.
Minuteman Commuter Bikeway Extension/Watertown 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.
Mystic River Paths/Assembly Square/Amelia Earhart Dam
The Somerville Office of Housing and Community Development worked with the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Metropolitan District Commission, and private developers in the Assembly Square area to design a bicycle and pedestrian connection along the Mystic River under the Wellington Bridge. Running between the Somerville-side Mystic River Reservation paths, Assembly Square, and the existing Draw Seven Park Path, it would reconnect Somerville's entire riverfront. In January 2002, this path was stricken from the budget. PDF plans are online.
There has long been a desire to connect across the Mystic River, at the Amelia Earhart Dam. The Bike-To-The-Sea trail will increase the pressure to make this happen.
Somerville Community Path [map]
Extending the Minuteman to Boston is the goal of Friends of the Community path. Along the way Somerville would gain a linear park, safe route to school, access to three T stops, non-motorized access to Boston, and much more. >From the current end at Cedar street, the path 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 official report is online in Acrobat format. The Friends of the Path are urging the City of Somerville & the MBTA to move forward.
Tri-Community Bikeway ( map)
This path through Woburn, Winchester, and Stoneham would connect the Mystic River, the Middlesex Fells, and Bike-To-The-Sea, as well as much of the parkland in these three communities.
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 considering the portion from School St. to Watertown Square. Public meetings are being held to discuss options.
Wayside Rail Trail
First suggested as a trail in 1874 when the railroad went bankrupt the first time, the wayside trail may yet come to pass. 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 this trail, contact Andy Greene of the Wayside Rail Trail Committee at or (617)893-6758.

Last updated November 10, 2005 by Doug Mink