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Last Updated: October 22, 2013
Length: Independence Greenway West; 2.6 miles
Independence Greenway East: 1.5 miles
On-Road Connector; 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Flat, paved rail trail.
To start from Lt. Ross Park; From Route 1 (Newburyport Turnpike) take the Lowell St exit and travel west. When the road splits bear left on Johnson St. Just before you cross over a bridge turn left into Lt. Ross Park. A small street sign marks the entrance.
The Independence Greenway follows the rail bed of the Salem & Lowell Railroad, which was a branch line of the Boston & Lowell Railroad and ran off the Essex Railroad in Peabody to Tewksbury where it met the Lowell & Lawrence Railroad at Tewksbury Jct. The line was chartered in 1848 and opened in 1850. A gap exists in the middle of the trail where I-95 and Route 1 cut through the old rail line. An on-road connection joins the East & West sections together. Just off this on-road connection is the start of the Peabody Rail Trail which travels north along an old rail line and connects to the Danvers Rail Trail . These trails are all part of the regional BORDER TO BOSTON TRAIL , an emerging 28-mile shared use trail linking eight communities from the New Hampshire border to Bostonís North Shore.
Starting from Lt. Ross Park and heading West; A signboard is located at the start of the trail and other various locations along the trail. The paved trail travels from the parking lot out to the former rail bed of the B & M Railroad and heads west.
Note; As of October 2013, there is a gap between the east and west sections of trail. See below for the east section.
The trail travels underneath Johnson St and travels along wooded wetlands with nice wood fencing. At a 1/4 mile you travel along a causeway between a large marsh. This brings you to a bench overlooking Crystal Pond at 0.5 miles. At the edge of the pond are two headstones that describe the deceased as having been accused of witchcraft. I imagine the signboard located close by might give more detail when they finish it. Use Caution crossing Lowell St as there is no cross-light. The trail then travels behind a shopping plaza (parking available) and past a large marsh on your left. Again, Use Caution crossing Russell St where you again travel through a marsh. The reeds are as tall as corn stalks. The trail bears left when you come to an access road to a power station on the right. After passing between two sections of wood fencing look for a dirt path on your left at 1.5 miles that leads up to a chain link fence. Great views of a massive quarry that is partly filled with water. You'll come to another bench next to the Norris Brook Wetlands before you head back into the woods. Keep an eye out along the right to spot an old granite RR Whistle marker. These were placed by the RR to let the train engineer know to blow his whistle for a road crossing ahead. The river travels along your right. At 2.6 miles you come to Russell St where the trail currently ends near the Middleton town line.
Starting from Lt. Ross Park and heading East; To access the east section you can start from the Lahey Clinic parking lot or follow the On-Road Connector from here.
On-Road Connector; This connector is on-road (narrow sidewalks available) and is not recommended for kids on bikes. From Lt. Ross Park, head back out the entrance to Johnson St and turn right. Traffic along this road is medium to low. There is no shoulder and a narrow sidewalk. Bear right along Lowell St, a high volume road. Again, a narrow sidewalk is available, however, a better sidewalk is available on the opposite side of the street. A slight hill takes you up past the Route 1 on-ramp then downhill where you travel underneath Route 1. Along the right side of Lowell St there is no sidewalk or shoulder. I recommend utilizing the left side of the street which has a sidewalk.
Note; Just before you travel underneath I-95after 1 mile look left to spot a bench. Here, the Peabody Rail Trail heads north through a tunnel underneath I-95 and connects to the Danvers Rail Trail .
After traveling underneath I-95 you'll pass by the Temple Bethel Cemetery. A narrow sidewalk runs along the right. Turn right down Peabody Rd. This is a residential road. After you cross over a culvert you'll come to the East section of the trail at 1.5 miles.
East Section; Starting from Peabody Rd the paved trail continues along the old rail bed. The trail follows Proctor Brook and a small marsh along your left. You come alongside Lowell St for a bit before traveling along Marble Meadows Conservation Area. At 1 mile the trail utilizes the sidewalk along Lowell St. Use the cross-light to cross Prospect St, then turn left and use the cross-light to cross Lowell St back to the paved trail. The trail travels behind residential backyards before ending at the Lehey Clinic parking lot after 1.5 miles, next to Route 128. If you continue straight along the road you'll come to the North Shore Mall.
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