SUDBURY AQUEDUCT TRAIL:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: April 23, 2016
Length: Sudbury Aqueduct Trail; 16 miles
Natick section; 1.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate. Flat hard packed grass and dirt berm.
For the Natick section; Starting from Memorial Elementary School; From the intersection of Routes 27 & 135 in Natick head east on Route 135. After 0.4 miles turn right on Union St and travel 1.5 miles to Route 16 in S Natick. Head right and travel 0.5 miles to the school entrance on your right. Follow the entrance to an intersection and bear left past the tennis courts to a parking lot. Trailhead straight ahead.
The Aqueduct Trail System is an ongoing collaboration between the Mass Water Resources Authority and Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The focus is to identify and develop a connected trail system along the four aqueducts (Cochituate, Sudbury, Weston, Wachusett). As currently proposed, the trail system, when complete, will total 67 miles along three main corridors running roughly east west between Chestnut Hill and the Wachusett Reservoir in Berlin. Sections of the Cochituate Aqueduct Trail, Sudbury Aqueduct Trail, Weston Aqueduct Trail and Wachusett Aqueduct Trail have been opened to the public throughout various municipalities. For more information visit; AQUEDUCT TRAIL NETWORK . See; Cochituate Aqueduct Reservoir , Weston Aqueduct Trail & Wachusett Aqueduct Trail .
The Sudbury Aqueduct Trail follows the path of the old Sudbury Aqueduct which traveled 16 miles from Farm Pond in Framingham to Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Boston. It passes through Framingham, Sherborn, Natick, Wellesley, Needham, and Newton. The Aqueduct was constructed between 1875 and 1878, and was in use for almost 100 years. The main conduit from Farm Pond to Chestnut Hill Reservoir is inclined one foot per mile. At a number of places on the aqueduct small buildings were built to house control equipment of various sorts, such as, Gate Houses, Metering Houses and Control Houses over Weirs where the aqueduct crosses over other bodies of water. Parts of the aqueduct are raised on an embankment, while others are in a cut, due to significant changes in local topography. Portions of the aqueduct in Natick and Newton were created by tunneling, the longest being a 4,635-foot tunnel in Newton. In addition to the Echo Bridge, the aqueduct also passes over the Waban Arches Bridge.
This section is very fragmented with lots of on-road/off-road. I finally gave up halfway through after starting from Wellesley, as it wasn't worth it.
Note; This section of the Sudbury Aqueduct is also part of the Wellesley Trails .
Starting from Newton heading west; The trail starts from Chestnut St, across from Summer St.
Note; The Sudbury Aqueduct continues east through Newton, however, it is very fragmented with lots of on-road/off-road. I finally gave up halfway through as it wasn't worth it.
A narrow, fenced lined, paved path leads from Chestnut St to Echo Bridge.
Note; Stairs to your right lead down to Ellis St where you can check out the stone arches of Echo Bridge, as well as, HEMLOCK GORGE RESERVATION. If biking, you can access Ellis St from Chestnut St.
A short set of steps lead down to the bridge with black iron railings high above the Charles River. Another set of stairs on the opposite side take you up to the dirt and grass trail along the aqueduct. At 0.3 miles you'll need to take an on-road detour to by-pass I-95. Head left down Reservoir St (residential), then right along Central Ave passing underneath I-95. Turn right up Saint Mary St and pick up the aqueduct again on your left at 0.6 miles. Here, the trail travels along a berm out in the open before crossing Cedar St and along the entrance to Eliot School. Bear right to pick up the trail again along the right and follow the aqueduct through the woods to Hunnewell St at 1.6 miles. USE CAUTION as their is no cross-walk here. Continue along the wide grassy berm via a single-track dirt trail and you'll come to a brick "Intake" structure. You can feel the cool air from the aqueduct flowing through the bars in the windows. The trail heads downhill and comes to the intersection of the southern end of the Charles River Path [Wellesley Trails] at 1.8 miles. After crossing Brookside Rd a short hill leads you up to another "Intake" structure with marinates on top. The trail then comes alongside Wellesley Ave where you'll need to travel on-road (narrow shoulder) past the Wellesley Country Club. Just past the pool house on the right is an historical monument to the town and the Minuteman. When you reach the Forest St intersection, you'll need to turn left into Babson College and then take an immediate right up a service road next to the main building (with the college name on it). A wooden post located at ground level near the roads entrance lets you know your on the right path. Travel around the backside (look for arrows on light poles) and bear left along a paved path which weaves through the campus. You'll pass by the Olin School of Business before heading left over College Dr, then traveling right up along this road. After passing by the athletic center follow the green cross-walk right away from the campus. Just before you exit the campus the trail heads left over Woodland Hill Rd and back into the woods along a wide, hard packed dirt trail. At 3.4 miles you'll come to a paved path. Turn right, then head back into the woods past a green "emergency phone". Here the dirt trail is narrow and hilly before emerging at a large parking lot in Needham.
Note; You can check out Olin College by heading straight and then turning left into it's courtyard surrounded by glass fronted buildings.
From the parking lot, turn right and follow the grassy path along the gas line to the bottom of the lot where the trail re-enters the woods. This dirt trail winds through the woods and comes to a T-intersection where it heads right. You come to another T-intersection and head right back along the aqueduct. When you come to a berm the trail bears left alongside it before exiting out to Great Plains Ave. Head right along the wide shoulder.
Note; The aqueduct continues on the other side of the road, however, if your biking it's easier to continue along the road to the first road on the left. Head down this road, which is the entrance to the Recycling & Disposal facility, and you'll pick up the aqueduct again on your right.
Follow the wide, dirt & grass trail into the woods and soon you'll come to a "Gatehouse" at 4.3 miles. Note the brook that travels underneath. Cross Wildon Rd and then a plank bridge where you'll head up a narrow dirt trail to Cartwright Rd. Next, cross over to Beebe Meadow at 4.9 miles and follow a paved trail past wildflower meadows. You'll come to a map board next to Benvenue St. Cross over and follow the trail left alongside the street. Cross Grove St for a short on-road section along this residential road. You'll come to Dover Rd at 5.5 miles. Head left up a short hill and return to the aqueduct on the right past a gate. The trail travels along a high berm (be sure to watch out for square granite T's along the center of the trail) past the Nehoiden Golf Course on your right. You cross the Waban Arch Bridge at 5.8 miles. Built in 1876, this 9 stone arch bridge crosses Fuller Brook which feeds into the Charles River which you can spot down to your left. Check out the old black iron railings marked BWW, which stands for Boston Water Works. Continue over the bridge and back along the trail before you'll need to detour because of a privately owned section. A dirt trail heads right and brings you to the Wellesley Center for Women parking lot at 6.2 miles. To reach the next section in Natick is all on-road.
This section is all on-road. See Wellesley section.
An on-road section is required to reach the section in Wellesley.
Starting from Memorial Elementary School; From the parking lot head straight past a signboard for the Eisenmenger Trail to an informational board for the Sudbury Aqueduct. The Sudbury Aqueduct Trail heads left. Straight ahead is the Eisenmenger Trail which leads to Natick Center. Right the trail dead ends. The hard packed grass and dirt (occasional tree root) trail travels west along the berm. Caution; Steep drop off both sides. After 0.3 miles you come to a brick building (Gate House). Continuing onward you'll notice granite culverts wherever water passes below. You'll also encounter square granite stones atop the berm every now and then. Most of these are surveyor's monuments marking the transition between straight segments and curved sections of the Aqueduct. Further investigation sometimes reveals a similar marker in the woods which the surveyors used to determine the proper course during construction of the aqueduct. After 1.1 miles you come to another informational board at Cottage St. The trail continues across the road, however, you soon get mucked down in water.
I don't believe any sections of the trail are currently open to the public in Sherborn.
A section in Framingham appears to be open by Farm Pond. I haven't checked out this section yet.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT