EMERALD NECKLACE GREENWAY:

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:       May 1, 2017                          

Length:                 Charles River Bikeway to Franklin Park; 6.6 miles

                               Commonwealth Ave Mall & Bike-Lane; 1.3 miles                          

Difficulty:             Easy. Flat, paved paths.

Directions:

You can access this trail from the north via the Charles River Bikeway , from the south via the Southwest Corridor Greenway and from the east & west via the Commonwealth Ave Mall & Bike-Lane. There are various parking areas located along the Greenway. See map below. You may also access this trail from the MBTA's Orange Line via the Forest Hills Station. Bikes are allowed on the Orange, Blue and Red Lines all day on weekends. For more information about taking your bike on the subway visit; MBTA-BIKE .

Completed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1895, the 6 mile long Emerald Necklace was the first linear park to be constructed in this country. The Emerald Necklace is comprised of a series of parklands and vehicular parkways, which are linked by the wetland resources of the Muddy River. The Greenway is comprised of the Back Bay Fens, the Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park, and their connecting parkways (Fenway, Riverway, Jamaicaway and Arborway). The Emerald Necklace is the only remaining intact linear park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., America’s first landscape architect. As such, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It took Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. (1822-1903) almost twenty years (1878-1896) to create the six parks now known as the Emerald Necklace which stretches five miles from the Charles River to Franklin Park and make up over 1,000 acres of parkland. For more information visit;  EMERALD NECKLACE .

Starting from the Charles River Bike Path; Take the ramp up to the top of the Mass Ave Bridge and head left into Boston. Sidewalks are available. Turn right on Beacon St to access the bike-lane. Check out the HUBWAY (bike rental station) and large map board. Follow the bike-lane underneath the Charlesgate overpass. This area is known as Charlesgate.

Note; Future plans call for better connecting the Charles River Bikeway to the Emerald Necklace Greenway. As of May 2017 it is the design phase.

Turn left on Charlesgate West and follow it on-road (sidewalk available) to Commonwealth Ave. 

Note; You may access the Commonwealth Ave Mall & Bike-Lane here. The Mall runs from the MBTA's Kenmore Station (0.1 miles west) to the Public Gardens & Boston Common for a total distance of 1.3 miles. I utilized it to create a loop involving the Emerald Necklace Greenway & Southwest CorridorSEE BELOW.

Continue along Charlesgate West as it takes you up a ramp to Charlesgate. Cross over I-90 and the rail line and you’ll come to a split in the road. Use the cross-walk to get to the stone bridge abutment overlooking the Muddy River & start of the Emerald Necklace Greenway at 0.6 miles.

Paved trails travel south along both sides of the Muddy River from here through Back Bay Fens Park. I chose the northwestern path (which is to your right as you look down on the river), which is also the recommended bike route on the map. Pass by a brown sign that reads “Emerald Necklace-Back Bay Fens-1879”. These signs appear every time you enter a different portion of the Greenway. You immediately encounter the community gardens, with trails meandering throughout them; however, they all bring you back to the main trail which runs alongside Park Drive. You come to your first road crossing, Agassiz Rd and like most of the road crossings, a bridge traverses the river, allowing you access to the opposite side of the greenway. Continuing along Park Drive turn left along the first paved path to check out the Veterans Memorial. Continue straight past the memorial to a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river at 1 mile.

Note; To access the Emerald Necklace Visitor Center cross this bridge and head left. The center utilizes the old granite Stony Brook Gatehouse. You'll find a map board here as well.

Turn right instead of crossing the bridge and follow the paved path which splits. Right brings you to the Rose Garden, left to Clemente Field. After checking out the gardens follow the path back alongside Park Drive and past the fields on a double wide sidewalk. Bear right along a single sidewalk and cross the road. The trail now heads northwest. Continue alongside Park Drive and across Brookline Ave/Boylston St where you’ll pick up a paved path.  Cross Riverway where the Greenway now heads southwest. This is the start of the “Riverway-1890”. Again paths travel along both sides of the river. Head right to reach the path along the north side of the river at 1.8 miles. Spot the old Back Bay Yard-1895 building and head left along the paved path between the river and the T's Green Line (access to Longwood Station). You travel underneath a beautiful stone arched bridge for Longwood Ave before crossing Netherlands Rd. Cross a stone bridge, with stairs on the opposite side, that lead down to a stone-dust path. This brings you to Brookline Ave. However, to cross this busy road you’ll need to turn right to access a cross-light over Brookline Ave. Head right alongside Brookline Ave followed by River Rd before coming to Route 9 (Washington St). Here you’ll find a cross-light. Cross River Rd at 3 miles.

Note; Again the trail splits with the left route taking you alongside Jamaicaway and the right route heading alongside Pond Ave. I continued right alongside Pond Ave.

The trail divides; left for pedestrians and right for bikes. You now enter “Olmstead Park-1891”. The wide, paved trail runs alongside Leverett Pond and passes by old stone bridges and walls. Several parking lots are located along this section. The trails merge as you head up a slight hill to Perkins St at 3.9 miles.

Note; Across this street is an entrance for Jamaica Pond. However, the 1 ˝ mile trail that encircles the pond does not allow bikes.

You need to head left and travel along Perkins St (paved path left side or bike lane right side) to Jamaicaway, where you turn right past “Jamaica Pond-1892”. {Jamaica Pond, Boston’s largest freshwater pond, is over 50 feet deep and is fed by natural springs}. Again the trail splits with a pedestrian path heading right down towards the pond and a bike trail left that takes you alongside Jamaicaway. You come to the Jamaica Pond Boat House at 4.5 miles, with an adjoining band stand overlooking the pond. Built in 1910, the Boat House contains a restroom, refreshments and information. The two trails briefly combine and then split with the pedestrian path heading right along the pond and the bike trail heading left. Cross over Francis Parkman Drive and Prince St as you leave Jamaica Pond behind. This section is on-road along Arborway (the sidewalk here is so-so). Just past Pond St you’ll pick up a Bike Lane. There are green signs for Arnold Arboretum along the route. Spy a house on your right that looks like a Tudor castle. The Arborway consists of a two lane road in the middle and one-way streets running along either side. You'll come to a rotary where a series cross-walks lead you around the rotary and back alongside the Arborway. Just follow the green Arnold Arboretum signs. The sidewalk here is nice and wide. You come to the "Emerald Necklace-Arborway Gate-1872" entrance to Arnold Arboretum at 5.2 miles. The Greenway utilizes a road through the Arboretum so head past the gate and you'll come to the Hunnewell Visitors Center. Restroom available. 

Note; You can check out the Arnold Arboretum paths from here.

Continue past the Hunnewell Visitors Center along Meadow Rd (closed to vehicles). You come to a T intersection at 5.8 miles, turn left. This takes you out the Forest Hills Gate entrance back to Arborway. Turn right (Wide sidewalk available) and follow alongside a large stone wall as the Arborway becomes an elevated road along your left. This brings you down to Washington St.

Note; As of Jan 2017, the area around the Forest Hills T-Station is a construction zone. So you’ll need to detour around it. Head left underneath the Arborway and across New Washington St. Head left (east) on a paved path alongside New Washington St and you’ll come to the start of the Southwest Corridor Greenway at 6.2 miles. [Continue straight across Washington St along a brick-lined path to the front of the Forest Hills T-Station. Turn left and travel underneath the elevated Arborway to New Washington St. A cross-light will bring you over to the start of the Southwest Corridor Greenway at 6.2 miles.]

Note; After checking out Franklin Park I utilized the Southwest Corridor Greenway to access the Commonwealth Ave Mall & Bike-Lane to loop back to the Charles River Greenway

Continue straight (east) on the paved path along New Washington St to a cross-light over Washington St. Follow the paved path alongside the Lower Arborway to Forest Hills St at the rotary. Turn left on-road along Forest Hills St and you'll come to the Forest Hills Gate Entrance to Franklin Park. Follow the paved path into the park and underneath Ellicott Arch (Circuit Drive) to the Circuit Drive Loop Trail at 6.6 miles. See; Franklin Park .

COMMONWEALTH AVE MALL & BIKE-LANE:

Starting from Kenmore St and the Kenmore T-Station; The Commonwealth Ave Mall is a wide Greenway separating Commonwealth Ave which runs one-way along both sides of the mall. Commonwealth Ave has Bike Lanes running both sides as well. The Mall is comprised of a wide path that travels through small parks with benches and lots of statues. You reach Charlesgate West after 0.1 miles where you may access the Emerald Necklace Greenway. Just before you reach Mass Ave after 0.4 miles the Mall Trail ends abruptly and you’ll have to detour around the tunnel, however, the Bike Lane travels through the tunnel under Mass Ave.

Note; Turn left on Mass Ave to reach the Harvard Bridge and a ramp that will bring you down to the Charles River Bikeway

 You'll come to Dartmouth St at 0.9 miles.

Note; Turn right on Dartmouth St to access the Southwest Corridor Greenway .

You'll come to Arlington St and the end of the Mall after 1.3 miles. Across the street is the entrance to the Public Gardens & Boston Common. No bikes allowed. 

Note; Turn left on Arlington St to access the Charles River Bikeway. When you reach Beacon St use the cross-walk to reach the Arthur Fieldler Footbridge over to the bikeway after 0.3  miles.

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CLICK HERE FOR EMERALD NECKLACE GREENWAY MAP

 

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