Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bedford Isn't The End of the Line

You can get here from downtown Boston using bike trails.  Really.

Okay, so I'm getting a little obsessed with finding "wilderness pathways" in the Boston suburbs.  Maybe it's my mortal fear of road biking around Boston drivers, but my quest to find bike paths linking different parts of the suburbs brings me way too much enjoyment.

Now you have the map. 
It seems like everyone and their rollerblading grandmother knows about the Minuteman Trail near Boston.  On any fair weathered weeknight you can weave in and out of walkers, bikers, strollers, and yes... the occasional rollerblading octogenarian.

But the Minuteman isn't the only trail in town.

For example, not everyone knows that you can ride from the Alewife terminus into Davis Square in Cambridge.  Fewer know that you can ride all the way into Boston with only a few on-street sections. So what about getting further away from Boston?

Tonight I joined the select few that actually read the map at the Bedford terminus and know that the trail runs all the way into Concord.  Best of all, because the section between Concord and Bedford is unpaved, there are less bikers, and ALOT less rollerbladers.  You might, however, run into a few more people herding goats (no, really).

The unpaved, but flat and hardpacked trail is a little rough for road bikes, but perfect for hybrid or mountain bikes.  Given that I bashed the derailleur off my mountain bike at my most recent ride at Leominster, I took my hybrid bike for a spin.

The Reformatory Branch Trail, another abandoned rail trail, takes you through the woods, alongside the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and into the center of Concord.
View into the Wildlife Refuge

Although the map indicates that it is possible to connect to the Bruce Freeman Trail, I haven't gone beyond Lowell Street in Concord to confirm this.

After I returned home tonight and started researching the Freeman Trail I discovered a map showing a number of other trails in the Western Boston 'burbs.  In turn this led me to a description of the Bay Circuit Trail, which runs in a circuitous route all the way from Newburyport on the North Shore to Kingston on the South Shore.  Apparently I'm not the only one with an obsession for wilderness pathways.

While I'm a little embarrassed I've lived in Boston this long without hearing of the Bay Circuit Trail, my head is racing with all the new possibilities:  Can I trail bike all the way to Great Brook Farm?  What other mountain bike destinations does this open up?  Can I make it to Cape Cod without road biking?  Why were those people herding goats?


  1. Very cool. I love shit like this.

    -T. Willie

  2. Is that you again Tollbooth Willie? I didn't think you got out of Worcester much.

  3. Ha! I ran into some goats on my trip a few days ago!

  4. I wasn't kidding! (no pun intended) There also must be a kennel nearby because on my last trip it sounded like a pack of wolves was chasing me on the trail. It was good motivation to keep that speed up.

  5. Update: Instead of following Railroad Ave. to the parking area to access the Reformatory Branch Trail, you can make an immediate left at the end of the Minuteman onto South Road. In less than 100 years, and before crossing the first bridge a trail ducks into the woods. This trail runs along a canal in the Elm Brook Conservation area. A right turn will bring you to the doubletrack of the Reformatory Trail.