BOSTON HARBORWALK

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:      August 15, 2015

Length:                Boston Harborwalk; 47 miles (when completed)

                              Bunker Hill Monument Loop; 1.2 miles                           

Difficulty:            Easy. Flat, paved trail.

Directions:

Take exit 15 off of I-93 to Columbia Rd eastbound to Columbus Circle. Head north on Day Blvd to reach the Fort Independence parking lot. Head south on Morrissey Blvd to reach the Dorchester Shore Reservation parking lot which is located on your right just past the entrance for JFK/UMass.

Boston's Harborwalk is an inviting public walkway along the waterfront, with parks, public art, seating areas, cafes, exhibit areas, interpretive signage, water transportation facilities, and a wide range of other amenities. When completed, the Harborwalk will stretch some 47 linear miles along wharves, piers, bridges, beaches and shoreline from Mystic River in Charlestown to the Neponset River in Dorchester, as well as, the East Boston shoreline. I describe the Harborwalk starting from the Dorchester Shore Reservation and heading north to Boston and include descriptions of the Dorchester-South Boston-Fort Point Channel-Downtown/North End & Charlestown sections. There are several connections to other bike paths along the Harborwalk which I provide links to. 

Harborwalk; Dorchester-South Boston

Starting from the Dorchester Shore Reservation parking lot; Restrooms and picnic tables are located here.

Note; There is a separate ½ mile paved path here, which follows crescent-shaped Malibu Beach around a small saltwater bay.

Turn left out of the entrance, following alongside Morrissey Blvd and cross over the Blvd at the cross-light. This brings you to the Harborwalk; Dorchester section.

Note; Right takes you south, where you can hook up with the Neponset River Greenway which also utilizes sections of the Harborwalk.

Heading north (left) along the sidewalk, you'll come to a path on your right leading to the Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A must visit, as a path from the memorial leads you up to a bench area overlooking the bay. You come to the UMass Boston/JFK Library entrance at 0.4 miles. Here a wide paved trail takes you alongside the bay past UMass. You pass a large picnic pavilion and many fisherman as you round the point and eventually come to the backside of the JFK LIBRARY at 1 ½ miles. JFK's sailboat is here, next to a large flight of steps leading up to the front entrance. Great views of Boston's skyline. This is also under the flight path to Boston's Logan Airport, so there are a lot of planes flying low overhead. The paved trail ends here and continues as a stone-dust trail. Continue along the stone dust trail until you hit the paved trail at 1.8 miles. Turn right onto the trail and head back along the bay. Here along Harbor Point is a gazebo and views of the JFK Library to your right and Fort Independence across the bay to your left. Next, you come to a large granite map of Boston Harbor surrounded by benches. Old Harbor Park is part of the Harbor Point housing development, and is a welcoming, beautifully maintained portion of Harborwalk. Its many amenities -- benches, shelters, and lighting -- make this portion of Harborwalk one of  Dorchester 's finest. Old Harbor Park is well situated, with a stunning view of the downtown skyline as well as a view of the egg-shaped waste digesters on Deer Island. Interpretive signage on this portion of the Harborwalk conveys tales of fishermen and shipwrecks. A large medallion-map of Boston Harbor and the Harbor Islands is very popular with children for stone rubbings. You pass a Jefferson Memorial type rotunda at 2 ½ miles and come to the Old Harbor Reservation. This is part of the Harborwalk; South Boston section. Here, beaches surround the harbor. At 2.9 miles you reach the McCormack Bath House (restrooms & a cafe here) where a separate boardwalk for pedestrians follows Carson Beach. Across Day Blvd is Moakley Park. The trail takes you past the Curly Recreation Center, a row of yacht clubs and at 4.4 miles to Marine Park.

Note; A 1 mile trail heading right from Marine Park follows the causeway around Pleasure Bay to Fort Independence on Castle Island, but biking is not allowed. Originally freestanding, Castle Island has been connected to the mainland since the 1930s, when streetcars brought bathers to Pleasure Bay Fort  Independence, located on Castle Island, is a five pointed granite structure. The current structure is the eighth fort to occupy this site and contains over 172,687 linear feet of hammered stone and was constructed under the direction of Colonel Sylvanus Thayer between 1834 and 1851. CLICK HERE FOR MAP .

From Marine Park you head left along Day Blvd around Pleasure Bay. You come to East Broadway at 4.7 miles, where the Farragut Statue resides inside the intersection. An on-road detour starts here to bypass the Conley Marine Terminal.

Note; It’s only a ½ mile detour to check out FORT INDEPENDENCE on Castle Island. Just continue straight.

Just after the statue, a cross-walk will take you over Day Blvd and up East Broadway along a sidewalk. Take a right down Farragut Rd, passing by the tennis courts and you'll come to the entrance for Conley Marine Terminal. Head left, on-road, along East 1st St until you hit Summer St. Turn right along a wide sidewalk past a generating station and cross over the Reserved Channel. After crossing the bridge, look right to see a map board of the Marine Industrial Park at 5.9 miles. Head right past this map board along a short path that brings you to Black Falcon Ave. The Boston Harbor Patrol are located here. To the right are where the cruise ships dock, but the public is not allowed access. 

Note; There are no separate paths through the Marine Industrial Park, just roadway, which, on weekends is almost devoid of traffic. 

Travel along Black Falcon Ave between the cruise terminal building on your right and the Boston Design Center along your left to the end. Then, follow the blue painted path right to the Reserved Channel, where you can look across to the Conley Container Terminal. Follow the blue path left along the channel to its end at 6.8 miles, where you'll have great views across Boston Harbor of Deer Island, East Boston and Logan Airport. Continue to the other side of the dock and back to Dry Dock Ave by the large tanks. When you reach the blue path again, turn right and follow it to a small park surrounded by a red fence. Then head left down Dry Dock Ave and turn right down Tide St. This brings you to a red fenced walkway that overlooks the dry-dock. Next, turn left along Fid Kennedy Ave and into the industrial park. After passing by Seafood Way, you'll notice a building on the right. The Ted Williams Tunnel passes below on its way across the Inner Harbor to East Boston and Logan Airport. After passing this building, there is a Harborwalk sign and an uncompleted section of the trail on the right. Instead, head left past the Harpoon Brewery and you'll come to Northern Ave. Turn right and follow Northern Ave through a traffic circle where you can then access a sidewalk as you pass by the Bank of America Pavilion.

Note; When you reach Boston Fish Pier at 8.4 miles, take a quick detour to the opposite side of Northern Ave to the South Boston Maritime Park. Here you'll find a seasonal cafe with outdoor seating, benches and a light sculpture. From the opposite end of this tiny park, you can see the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Next, cross over D Street to the World Trade Center East building and view a not-to-be-missed sculpture garden with whimsical pieces laid out along winding paths. The kids will love it! Head back out to Northern Ave. Cross back over Northern Ave.

Turn right and travel along the Boston Fish Pier to the New England Fish Exchange building at the end of the pier, then head back up the opposite side past all the fishing trawlers to Northern Ave. Turn right along Northern Ave which turns into Seaport Blvd and pass by the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center West building, as well as the Seaport World Trade Center across the street. Head right into Anthony's Pier 4 and travel through the parking lot. Just before an old steam engine in front of the Pier 4 restaurant the Harborwalk picks up again on your left at 9.3 miles and travels underneath the cantilevered portion of the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART . The trail follows a boardwalk along the harbors edge and past the Public Green. Chairs and tables located here. The now paved trail is dotted with interpretive signs and sculptures as it takes you around Fan Pier. A brick and cobblestone path then takes you past interpretive panels and ship silhouettes which present the history of Fan Pier and Boston Harbor. The Moakley Courthouse overlooks the harbor and is an impressive building itself. This brings you to Old Northern Ave at 9.8 miles.

Note; The BARKING CRAB restaurant is across the street. Very popular.

Note; You have two options from this point:

A. You can check out the Harborwalk; Fort Point Channel section which also doubles as part of the South Bay Harbor Trail.

B. You may continue along the Harborwalk; Downtown/North End-Charlestown sections by heading right across the Old Northern Ave Bridge (now a pedestrian only bridge) into downtown Boston and continue following the Harborwalk over to Charlestown.

Harborwalk; Fort Point Channel

        A. To check out the Harborwalk; Fort Point Channel/South Bay Harbor Trail; [Re-zeroing mileage] From the end of Fan Pier, head left along Old Northern Ave to a cross-walk over to Sleeper St. Follow Sleeper St towards the Seaport Blvd bridge. Just before this bridge, turn right and follow the paved trail as it passes below the bridge. This brings you alongside Fort Point Channel. Here, a boardwalk takes you past the BOSTON CHILDREN'S MUSEUM, where you'll find plenty of tables and food available and up to Congress St.

Note; If you’re riding bikes, you may wish to detour around the next two sections as there are stairs involved. Cross the street and turn left up Congress St, past the BOSTON FIRE MUSEUM, then right along A Street and finally right down Summer St. This next section actually travels through a corridor of the old Boston Wharf Company building. To detour, turn back up Summer Street and make an immediate right up Melcher St. Take a moment to marvel at the old buildings here that all seem to have a different shade of brickwork. Next, turn right at Necco St and another right between two buildings. This will bring you back to the channel and the corridor exit** at 0.6 miles.

Cross over Congress Street and take the stairs to the right of the "Neighborhood Health Plan" sign. After you've crossed over Summer St, head down through a corridor of the old Boston Wharf Company building and this brings you out alongside the channel**. Continue along the channel and you'll go around the tiny Binford Park. Informational signage along the trail. Spot the buoy. This is an example of the trail markers that will be used along the updated South Harbor Bay Trail that is scheduled to completed sometime in 2011.To your left is the Gillette headquarters. You come to the end of the main channel, next to Dorchester Ave bridge at 1.1 miles.

Note;   Heading right would take you down along  the western side of the Fort Point Channel Harborwalk. However, as of September 2010, this section has not been completed and may never be as it would travel past a  US Postal Service facility.

Instead, bear left to a cross-walk in front of the guard house (this is the entrance for the US Postal Service facility) and cross over Dorchester Ave.

Note; The trail continues left, but detour straight to Rolling Bridge Park. A short loop trail takes you around this small park and includes a pedestrian bridge over Cabot Cove. The park contains benches, interpretive signs and a big, red painted arm of the Old Colony Railroad Bridge that formerly occupied this site. At the time of its construction in 1898, the Old Colony Railroad Bridge was the largest rolling drawbridge of its kind. In addition, stones are arranged in a seating pattern to mimic a circular configuration of another bridge that occupied a nearby site. The trail then returns you to Dorchester Ave.

Travel on-road (sidewalk available) along Dorchester Ave and up to W Broadway.

Note; There is access to the Broadway T-Station from here. 

Turn right and cross over W Broadway Bridge (Kelly Bridge). This brings you to South Bay Park on your right. This park is a must-go-to location for train and locomotive fans. The park provides a great vantage location to observe the trains entering or leaving South Station, one of the busiest train stations in New England. South Bay Park, situated within the area formerly occupied by the South Bay, was filled over time leaving only the existing configuration of the Fort Point Channel. The land under South Bay Park was filled-in by the mid 1850s and is straddled by two bridges crossing the Channel: the West 4th Street Bridge and W Broadway Bridge. After crossing the bridge, turn left, using the cross-light and travel along the trail (below the I-93 artery) to the West 4th Street Bridge at 1.6 miles. This is where the Harborwalk; Fort Point Channel ends

To continue along the South Bay Harbor Trail; Continue straight, using the cross-light, along the wide sidewalk and below the I-93 artery. To your left is the Boston Sanitation building. When you reach the entrance for this building use the cross-light to travel right over the Eastside Frontage Rd, under the highway and out to the Westside Frontage Rd & Albany St. Use the cross-light over Frontage Rd to the medium between Albany St and follow the sidewalk left. Use the cross-walk over the access ramp for Frontage Rd and head left, then right (south) along Frontage Rd via a sidewalk. After you come alongside a large building, bear right and follow the access road out to the Mass Ave Connector (Frontage Rd continues straight). The trail has not yet been built along this section, although a new trail/sidewalk? has been partially built on the other side of the fence along your right. You'll come to Mass Ave at 2.5 miles. Use the cross-light to re-join the paved trail as it travels alongside Melnea Cass Blvd. See; South Bay Harbor Trail for further directions.

Harborwalk; Downtown/North End-Charlestown

        B. To check out the Harborwalk; Downtown/North End-Charlestown  [Re-zeroing mileage] Head right across the Old Northern Ave Bridge (now a pedestrian only bridge) into downtown Boston.

Note; The Harborwalk; Downtown/North End section picks up on your right along the harbor, however, there are stairs involved. If biking, continue straight out to Atlantic Ave and turn right. Follow the sidewalk and take your first right back towards the harbor to pick up the Harborwalk as it travels around Rowes Wharf.

Turn right down the stairs and travel along the harbor, around Rowes Wharf and the Boston Harbor Hotel. Check out all the large yachts. Next comes India Wharf and then Central Wharf and the New England Aquarium at ¾ miles. Travel out to the end of Long Wharf and back along the Marriott Hotel and this will bring you to the Christopher Columbus Park.

Note; If you head left through the park you can access the ROSE KENNEDY GREENWAY  and the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Next comes Commercial Wharf at 1.3 miles and Joes American Bar & Grill. This is a great spot to grab some food, as they have outdoor seating and you can keep an eye on your bike. We skipped this wharf, mostly full of car parking. You now enter the North End section of the Harborwalk, passing by Lewis Wharf and Sergeant Wharf along what is now Commercial St. When you come to Burroughs Wharf, take a right down Battery St and bear right to return to the Harborwalk. The Boston Fire Dept. has a sub-station here with some fire rescue boats. When you reach the US Coast Guard Station at 2 ¼ miles, you have to head back out to Commercial St, as their is no access allowed. Head right past the Coast Guard's entrance and you'll come to Langone Recreational Complex and Puopolo Park. Pass by the wading pool and ball field and then turn right past the Bocce Ball fields and playground to reach the Harborwalk. From here you have good views of Charlestown and the Boston National Historic Park across the harbor, as well as the Bunker Hill Monument. You come to the base of the Charlestown Bridge at 2.8 miles.

Note; You have two options to connect to the Harborwalk; Charlestown section:

First Option; You can turn left and travel over the bridge into Charlestown and Chelsea Street.

Note; You can make a detour from here to visit the Bunker Hill Monument and return via a loop route. (See; Bunker Hill Monument Loop below). Head right along Chelsea St and then right down Warren St to Constitution Rd. Pass through the parking gate and you'll return to the Harborwalk; Charlestown section after a 0.6 miles. However, because the FREEDOM TRAIL travels over the bridge, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic making biking difficult

Second Option; [Continuing mileage from Charlestown Bridge] Continue straight to cross the river via the Charles River Dam & Locks to Paul Revere Park

I chose the second and more scenic option, continued straight and traveled underneath the Charlestown Bridge, where a short boardwalk brought me to Beverly Street Extension

Note; If you wish to access the Rose Kennedy Greenway, turn left up Beverly St Extension and it will bring you to Causeway St. Turn right and cross over I-93 where it emerges from the “Big Dig” and check out the great views of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge. To your left across Causeway St is the beginning of the ROSE KENNEDY GREENWAY

At Beverly Street Extension turn right and enter the Charles River Dam & Locks. This is where the Charles River meets Boston's Inner Harbor. The Charlestown Bridge will be up on your right and the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge will be to your left. A metal walkway will take you over the locks to Paul Revere Park and the Harborwalk; Charlestown section after 3.2 miles.

Note; You may access the Charles River Bikeway via North Point Park by heading left along the paved trail which turns to stone-dust briefly before returning to paved. This will take you underneath the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge where a promenade overlooks the Charles River

Note; A paved path to your right with whimsical colored street lamps takes you 0.2 miles up to Route 99.

Continue straight up the arched bridge which take you over the RR tracks and into North Point Park and the start of the Charles River Bikeway after a 1/4 mile.

Harborwalk; Charlestown

From Paul Revere Park; [Continuing mileage] Turn right along the paved path and head straight to a ramp down to a boardwalk along the harbor. Head left underneath the Charlestown Bridge and you'll come to Tudor Wharf. Travel around the wharf and follow the wide sidewalk past the hotel to Constitution Rd. Head right through the parking lot to pick up the Harborwalk again near the parking lot exit gate next to the marina. 

Note; You can make a detour from here to visit the Bunker Hill Monument and return via a loop route. (See; Bunker Hill Monument Loop below).

Travel around the large marina and Constitution Wharf and you'll come to some old railroad tracks at about 3.8 miles and the Boston National Historic Park. A metal gate blocks access to the park, so you need to detour around it. Head left along the old tracks (hard packed trail), then right along a paved path. This will bring you to Constitution Rd. Turn right and follow Constitution Rd past "Gate 1" (along the Freedom Trail) and into the BOSTON NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK . Head right down the pier past the Visitor Center to check out the ships (Free entry). Great views of downtown Boston and the US Coast Guard cutters across the harbor. Head back along the opposite side of the pier and turn right past the USS Constitution Museum along 1st Ave. This will take you past another Gate. Turn right past the Commandants House and follow the pier to the Inner Harbor Ferry. Return back along the pier and follow the boardwalk around alongside Terry Ring Way. Be sure to check out the Korean War Memorial on your left in Charlestown Navel Shipyard Park. Continue straight along the paved pier to the end of Pier 4. Head back down the pier past the COURAGEOUS SAILING CENTER and right along the Harborwalk, past Piers 5-7. The boardwalk becomes rough until you pass by Pier 8 and the Shipyard Quarters Marina where the trail turns to stone-dust as it travels through Shipyard Park. You emerge at 16th Street after 5.6 miles. Continue right along a nice wide boardwalk which juts back out into the harbor. To your left is Mayor Menino Park with a large playground. Great views of downtown Boston. The boardwalk then travels back along the opposite side of the V shaped pier. The trail turns to concrete as it passes by the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, then becomes paved as you travel alongside the Little Mystic Channel. Finally you come to Building 114. Built in 1903 as the U.S. Navy's joinery shop, Building 114 is now a state-of-the-art biomedical research facility. The ground floor features an exhibit of the building's rich history, old photographs, boat models, and a display of tools used in boat making. The lobby, open 24 hours a day, has a sitting area with vending machines, public phones, restrooms, a drinking fountain, and a bike rack. Outside, a 25-foot band saw, once used to cut lumber for naval vessels, is displayed next to the Harborwalk. The blade for the band saw hangs from the ceiling of the building's lobby. The trail ends after 6 miles by a recreation dock. To continue your journey a slight detour follows. You'll need to travel right past Building 114 out to 16th Street, then head right out to Chelsea St, which runs underneath the green Tobin Memorial Bridge (Route 1). Turn left and follow the sidewalk along Chelsea St to a cross-walk right over to a paved path that brings you to Medford St. Follow this path briefly along Medford St where it turns right and passes by a ball field at Barry Playground. The cement path heads left around Little Mystic Channel past more sports fields to the opposite side of the inlet where it crosses a water access ramp for the BOSTON DUCK TOURS amphibious landing vehicles. You then travel around the Little Mystic Access Area parking lot at 7 miles where the Harborwalk ends. 

Note; From here I returned to the Paul Revere Park along a different route. Exit the parking lot and head right on the paved path alongside Terminal St. Continue on-road (low volume) to Chelsea St and turn right. Continue on-road to 16th Street. Head left down 16th St, then right on 5th Ave. Cross 13th St and a tree lined paved trail brings you past the beautiful old brick & stone buildings of the Boston National Historic Park. A brief gravel trail brings you on-road along 4th Ave. Turn left on 9th Ave, then just before Building 105 take a right along another tree lined path that travels past the Charlestown Inn and more brick & granite buildings. Continue across 6th St and pass by the round Muster House to 5th St. Turn left and you'll return to 1st Ave next to the Commandants House at the Boston National Historic Park. Follow 1st Ave right out the gate to Constitution Rd. Continue straight along Constitution Rd and you'll eventually travel through a tunnel underneath Route 99 and enter Paul Revere Park. Turn left and you'll return to the Charles River Dam & Locks after 8.3 miles.

Bunker Hill Monument Loop

Hills Involved; From the exit gate near Constitution Rd head straight up Warren St and use the cross-light to cross Chelsea St. Turn left along Chelsea Street and you'll come to City Square Park along your right. Fountains-statures-historical informational signs, very ornate park. Exit out the west side of the park and head up Harvard St. Beautiful old houses and buildings. Turn right down Main St and then left up Monument Ave. This brings you to Monument Square. The Bunker Hill Museum (restrooms available) is located on your left. Take the paved ramp up to the BUNKER HILL MONUMENT . About 3/4 miles. The museum and monument are run by the NPS and free. You can climb the 294 steps up the granite monument. Great views. Return to Monument Square and travel left to the southern corner of the "hill". Head down Winthrop St and around the Commons to Park St. Take a left off Park St down Warren St. Use the cross-light over Chelsea St and continue down Warren St to Constitution St. Pass through the parking gate to return to the Harborwalk after a 1.2 mile loop. 

HH

CLICK HERE FOR BOSTON HARBORWALK MAP

CLICK HERE FOR ROSE KENNEDY GREENWAY MAP

 

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WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER

 

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