Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beyond the Minuteman: Great Brook Farm

Pavel's Bridge.
Yeah, you read that title right.

Hybrid bikers rejoice.  Great Brook Farm is within reach of the Minuteman Trail!

Encouraged by my successful voyage to the Landlocked Forest in Burlington, MA, I decided to see if the rumors of a nearly street-less journey all the way out to Great Brook Farm were true.  Could it be possible to reach one of my favorite biking playgrounds without risking a "Falling Down" moment in the MetroWest traffic.  Thirty-five miles later, I can report that Great Brook Farm is officially "just off of the Minuteman".

Well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but with a little help from some connecting trails and back roads, you can reach Great Brook Farm with a minimum of traffic.

Earlier this summer I wrote about how I had ventured to the end of the Narrow Gauge rail trail in Bedford.  If you look closely at a map you can see there is not much separating the end of this trail and Great Brook Farm.

By "not much", I mean less than the distance to the moon.
Serene side street.
In fact there are only 4.5 miles separating the Narrow Gauge from The Farm, and not all of these are street miles.  Most of the distance is covered on quiet residential streets, with another fair share through the Greenough Conservation Land in Carlisle, MA.  The only "busy" sections are the bridge over the Sudbury River (Route 4) and East Street, which both have wide breakdown lanes for relaxed biking.

The roughest section of trail (Great Brook Farm included) runs along the large field near the Greenough Land.  The trail is old and eroded here, leaving a carpet of roots, and also leaving me wishing I had a full-suspension hybrid bike.  This is a short section, and best experienced at full gallup.

At Great Brook Farm I reaped my reward in the form of a brownie batter ice cream cone from their ice cream stand.

Pressed for time I didn't get a chance to make my favorite runs at Great Brook Farm, including Stone Row and Tophet West Loop.  However I did have a nice run on the singletrack of Tophet East and along the bridges trail.

The longest of the bridges I've nicknamed after a good friend, who on his first mountain biking excursion....well....ever, suddenly found himself on the middle of this bridge (where it tuns sharply) staring down at the bottomless pit of mud. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet told him the golden rule of bridges: Don't stop.  A brief swim in the muck, and no worse for wear, my buddy was an excellent sport.  Maybe someday he'll agree to go mountain biking again.

Or maybe I can convince him to go for a ride on the Minuteman Trail to get some ice cream.  I just won't tell him that the ice cream stand is at Great Brook Farm.

Here are the details of my trip from Map My Ride.

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