UPPER CHARLES TRAIL LETTERBOX:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Planted: July 29, 2006
Last Updated; July 20, 2016
Length: Upper Charles Trail; Milford section; 6.4 miles
Upper Charles Trail; Holliston section; 4.3 miles
Upper Charles Trail; Hopkinton section; 1.2 miles
Senior Center Spur; 0.4 miles
Clark Island Loop Trail; 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Upper Charles Trail; Milford section; Easy. Mostly flat, paved rail trail.
Upper Charles Trail; Holliston section; Easy. A mostly stone-dust, flat rail trail.
Upper Charles Trail; Hopkinton section; Easy. Crushed gravel rail trail.
To start from the Claflin Pl parking lot [Hopkinton section]; Take exit 21A off of I-495 to Main St heading east. Turn right on Claflin Pl after 1.1 miles where you'll find a parking lot on your left.
To start from the Route 85 parking lot [Milford/Hopkinton section]; Take exit 20 off of I-495 and travel north up Route 85 about 1.5 miles. Just before you reach the Hopkinton town line, the parking lot will be on your right.
To start from the Veterans Memorial Drive parking lot [Milford/Holliston section]; From I-495 take exit 19 to Route 109 west. Less then a mile turn left on Veterans Memorial Dr. Behind the Friendly's on your right is the parking lot.
To start from the Railroad Street parking lot [Holliston section]; Take exit 19 off of I-495 to Route 109 and head west. Immediately turn right on Beaver St, then right on Route 16 (Route 16 becomes Route 126 and continues north). Travel 4.7 miles before turning right on Central Ave. Just past Railroad St on your left will be a parking lot. The trail travels through this lot.
The Upper Charles Trail is a planned 20 mile multi-use trail along an abandoned rail bed. It will travel through the towns of Milford, Hopkinton, Ashland, Sherborn and Holliston. Currently, the trail is complete in Milford and the rail bed has been partially developed in Holliston. In Hopkinton, a short section has been developed and is referred to as the Center Trail. The Hopkinton & Milford RR was constructed in 1871/72 to connect the Boston & Albany RR in Ashland to the Milford & Woonsocket RR in Milford. A total of four rail lines used to serve Milford. In 1898, the NY-New Haven & Hartford RR acquired this line, which was abandoned in1959. For more information visit; UPPER CHARLES TRAIL , MILFORD; UPPER CHARLES TRAIL & HOPKINTON; UPPER CHARLES TRAIL .
Upper Charles Trail; Hopkinton Section:
Starting from the Claflin Pl parking lot in Hopkinton; The trailhead begins off Main St. You'll find a map board here.
Note; You can check out the old Hopkinton RR Depot, which used to sit across Main St near the lumber store, by heading left (west) down Main St (sidewalk available). After a 1/4 mile, past Whalen Rd, the sidewalk becomes a paved trail and levels out. After 0.5 miles, spot the old Hopkinton RR Depot (1872) next to Golden Pond. Pass by an entrance for the Berry Acres Conservation Area before the trail reverts to narrow sidewalk at 0.7 miles. Picnic tables located by the pond and RR Station.
The Upper Charles Trail (Also referred to as the Center Trail) heads south from Main St along the old rail bed. This wooded corridor consists of a crushed gravel surface. A high berm soon leads to several informational signs about the old RR. The first sign points to an old wooden Whistle Stop post on your left. You cross a couple of wooden bridges before the trail leaves the old rail bed and heads slightly uphill. You come to Loop Rd at 0.6 miles. As the name applies, Loop Rd circles past the Hopkinton schools. Follow the narrow paved trail right alongside this road, crossing a wooden bridge, before coming to Lot x/Fields 12 & 13 at 0.9 miles. Bear right through the parking lot to the crushed gravel trail as it takes you left past the ball fields and back into the woods. Yellow circles mark the route. The trail currently ends after 1.2 miles at Chamberlain St.
Upper Charles Trail; Milford Section:
Starting from the Route 85 parking lot in Milford; The paved Upper Charles Trail heads south from the parking lot. You'll find a map board here.
Note; Future plans call for continuing the trail north through Hopkinton. The old rail bed continues on the western side of Route 85 and crosses into Hopkinton almost immediately.
Traveling through the woods, there appears to be a second rail bed or old road on your left paralleling this trail? When you come to a wide grassy area on the right with four boulders at the edges, just past a black access gate, this is where an old rail siding began. It runs past the two large boulders on the left and parallels the trail. At 0.5 miles you'll see a row of granite piers that used to support the elevated RR siding, which was built in 1897 and used to provide access to a nearby quarry. Just before Route 85 spot an old cement Whistle marker used by the RR to denote a crossing coming up. After a mile an automatic cross-light takes you over Route 85 where you'll cross a small bridge over the Upper Charles River, travel past Wildcat Pond and return alongside Route 85 at 1.5 miles. Use Caution when crossing in front of the I-495 on-ramp, as well as, the off-ramp after you travel underneath the highway. The trail then heads down away from Route 85 and comes to an intersection.
Note; Left follows an old road bed to Old Cedar St which will bring you back out to Route 85. Places to eat and restock are located here.
After a hairpin turn the trail heads up a slight incline. Just before a large stone abutment on the right and a granite bench on the left will be a dirt road at 2 miles. From the trail, take 32 paces (2 steps = 1 pace) down the road, just past a moss covered boulder poking into the road and next to a dead tree and stump off the right side of the road. Look to the left side of road and spot a stone wall between the gap of large trees. Go to the tallest section in stone wall (there should be a marble or quartz type rock on the very top). Go to the backside of the wall and remove only one flat rock that is leaning against the wall. Behind this rock is the Upper Charles Trail Letterbox.
The trail winds through open woods, which are full of rocks and boulders and past granite and stone benches. A 2.6 miles you pass by a spur trail that leads to apartments off of Shadowbrook Lane. The trail then travels alongside Louisa Lake before coming to Louisa Lake Park. Check out the black "bike" gate leading to the parking lot. A map board, picnic tables and dam with spillway are located here. An automatic cross-light takes you over Dilla St at 3.1 miles. Check out the bike sculpture on your right as you travel through an industrial corridor along your right and Milford Pond along your left. At 3.4 miles you pass by another spur trail on your left.
Note; You can take a short side trip here along the Clark Island Loop Trail. Head left along the wide dirt road as it travels alongside Milford Pond before ending at the tip of the island at 0.2 miles. To return head right along the grassy area to a hard packed dirt trail that follows along the opposite side of the island and back to the trail after almost 0.5 miles.
Continue past Cedar Swamp Pond to your left, followed by Fino Field before coming to an intersection at 3.8 miles. Turn left to continue along the Upper Charles Trail. No signs.
Note; Heading straight along the Senior Center Spur takes you past Hayward Field and out to Main St (Dunkin Donuts located here) and another automatic cross-light. The trail ends at the Milford Senior Center after 0.4 miles. If you continue south through the parking lot you'll come to Central St. You can see the original RR tracks on the opposite side of the street. Head left and you'll come to the old stone Milford RR Station, which currently houses a liquor store. Head inside and check out the beautiful wooden walls.
Turn left and follow the trail past Fino Pool on your left and you'll come to another intersection.
Note; Straight takes you over a spillway for Cedar Swamp Pond and the Upper Charles River and out to Meade St.
Bear right and follow the trail past Hayward Field and you'll come to the Milford commuter lot at 4.1 miles. Map board located here. Continue straight through the parking lot out to Main St.
Note; If you go to the east side of the parking lot, you'll see where the Upper Charles River is diverted underground through town.
There are two cross-lights over Main St. Use either one and continue straight down Beach St (side walk available). Take a quick left on Mt Pleasant St where you'll pick up the paved trail again on your left at 4.3 miles. The trail now travels along a residential corridor crossing Hayward St and coming to Veterans Memorial Dr after 4.9 miles. The trail follows this road out to Route 109.
Note; Just before Route 109 on your left is the Veterans Memorial Drive parking lot, just behind Friendly's.
An automatic cross-light takes you north across Route 109 to another a map board at 5.1 miles. Here the trail travels along the transmission line corridor. You pass the Route 16/Prezo Bar & Grill parking lot at 5.5 miles. Another automatic cross-light over Beaver St and then you travel underneath I-495. Next you'll pass through a large marsh and travel underneath two crossing sets of transmission lines. Enter the woods and travel along a berm before coming to the end of the paved Milford section at 6.4 miles. Zain Circle is on your left. You now enter the Holliston section.
Upper Charles Trail; Holliston Section:
Continuing from the end of the Milford Section; The Upper Charles Trail; Holliston Section has a stone-dust surface and travels through the woods before emerging at South St at 6.8 miles. Turn left along the sidewalk, then right across the street where the stone-dust trail continues. A berm takes you alongside scenic Hopping Brook Marsh, crosses over Beaver Brook, then out to Hopping Brook Rd at 7.5 miles. You'll pass by a solar farm along your left followed by a high berm past scenic Hopping Brook Marsh and across an wooden bridge over Hopping Brook at 7.9 miles. Cross Chestnut St at 8.5 mile sand a small culvert next to a pond at 8.7 miles. Just before this culvert on your right is an old RR semaphore (railway signal of some type) followed by an old cement RR Whistle Stop just past the culvert.
Note; Left a spur trail leads to ice cream!
You pass by a second old RR Whistle Stop on your left before a cross-light over Summer St at 9.2 miles. The trail travels alongside then over Chicken Brook where you'll pass by a map board for both the Upper Charles Trail, as well as, the Wenakeening Woods Conservation Area. Just before Cross St at 9.3 miles look left to spot another old cement Whistle marker. The trail then takes you through the beautiful stone arched Phipps Tunnel under Highland St at 9.7 miles. Brick lined ceiling and sides. This is a trail highlight. The trail now travels through a low cut with large cut stones lining the sides. Pass by two benches overlooking a horse farm on your left. Cross an old RR bridge over Arch St followed by a second over Exchange St. Hit Central St in the Mudville neighborhood of Holliston. A map board and gazebo are located here. Parking located along your right, as well as, across the street next to the old Mudville Depot. Use Caution, a crosswalk but this is a busy street. The trail follows the road past the old RR Depot to Church St at 10.7 miles. The trail north is undeveloped as of July 2016 and contains trap rock which is very difficult to bike.
Note; Just north along the trail is the 8 Arch Stone Bogastow Brook Viaduct, another trail highlight. I would suggest a short on-road trip to check it out. Turn left on Church St, then right on Railroad St which becomes Woodland St. (paved sidewalk available). Travel 0.6 miles (slight hills) and you'll come alongside the old bridge. Eight stone arches support the bridge as it crosses Bogastow Brook.
CLICK HERE FOR UPPER CHARLES TRAIL MAP
CLICK HERE FOR MILFORD MAP
CLICK HERE FOR HOPKINTON MAP
LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON
NOVEMBER 18, 2016
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT