Last Updated:       May 1, 2017                          

Length:                 Charles River Bikeway to Franklin Park; 5.7 miles

Difficulty:             Easy. Flat, paved paths.


You can access this trail network 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 T-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 .

If your ambitious you can complete a Loop utilizing the Emerald Necklace Greenway, Southwest Corridor Greenway & Commonwealth Ave Mall & Bike-Lane. Along this route you can also Loop through Arnold Arboretum & Franklin Park. See; *[Part of Loop]* in the descriptions below.

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 .

Emerald Necklace Greenway:

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 BLUEbikes (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 creating a connecting trail through Charlesgate Park directly to the Charles River Bike Path, but as of 2021 it is still in the design stage. See; CHARLESGATE ALLIANCE .

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 & BIKE LANE travel east to the Public Gardens & Boston Common. *[Part of Loop]* I returned from my Loop via this route.

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. 

Note; Right will lead to the future Fenway Path. This will lead to the Fenway T-Station, Miner St, Maitland St, Lansdowne T-Station, as well as, Fenway Park. Construction set to begin in 2021.

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 MBTA's Green Line (access to Longwood T-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 ½ mile trail that encircles the pond does not allow bikes.

You need to head left and travel along Perkins St. Both a paved path left side and BIKE LANE 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. BIKE LANE. The sidewalk here is nice and wide. You come to the "Emerald Necklace-Arborway Gate-1872" entrance to Arnold Arboretum at 5.2 miles.  

Note; You can check out the Arnold Arboretum paths from here along with the Hunnewell Visitors Center. Restroom available. See; Arnold Arboretum Below. *[Part of Loop]*

A paved trail continues alongside the Arborway bringing you to Washington St at 5.3 miles. 

Note; Heading right the paved trail follows Washington St to the Blackwell Footpath entrance to Arnold Arboretum. It then continues as a BIKE LANE (Bike path opposite side of street). Future plans call for the creation of the Roslindale Gateway Path which will travel from the Blackwell Footpath entrance, through Arnold Arboretum to Roslindale Village T-Station. Construction slated for 2021. See; Roslindale Gateway Path for more information.

Cross over Washington St to the Forest Hills T-Station. Bike paths follow both sides of New Washington St. Then cross left over New Washington St.

Note; To access the Southwest Corridor Greenway cross New Washington St and travel right to a Map board and the start of the trail. After checking out Franklin Park, I utilized the Southwest Corridor Greenway *[Part of Loop]* to access the Commonwealth Ave Mall & BIKE LANE *[Part of Loop]* to Loop back to the Emerald Necklace Greenway

Continue east on the paved path along New Washington St (either side of street) and the Arborway. After 5.7 miles come to Circuit Drive and the entrance to Franklin Park on your left. See; Franklin Park Below. *[Part of Loop]*

Arnold Arboretum:

Last Updated:     May 25, 2014

Length:               Arborway Gate to Mendum Street Gate; 2.1 miles

                              Arborway Gate to Mendum Street Gate Loop (including visits to Bussey Hill & Peters Hill); 4.8 miles

Difficulty:           Moderate for biking. Paved trail with some steep hills. Tough for kids on bikes.


From I-93, take exit 14 to Columbia Rd west for 2.2 miles to Blue Hill Ave (Route 28) and continue straight across the intersection along Forest Park Rd onto Circuit Drive. This takes you through Franklin Park and out to the Arborway. Turn right and follow to Washington St. On street parking only, no parking lots in the Arboretum. Turn left past the Forest Hills T-Station where you'll find parking in the rear (parking fee). Free parking is available at Franklin Park only 0.5 miles away.

You may also access the Arboretum from the subways Orange Line via the Forest Hills T-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  .

Note; Arboretum open daily from sunrise to sunset. There is no fee.                                                                                                     

The Arnold Arboretum contains 3 ½ miles of gated, paved roads for biking. Biking is not permitted on unpaved trails. Founded in 1872, the 265 acre park contains 6,000 kinds of woody plants. Maps of the roads and tree types are stationed at various points throughout the park or are obtainable at the Hunnewell Visitor Center located near the Arborway Gate. The Arnold Arboretum is part of the Emerald Necklace Greenway. For more information check out;  ARNOLD ARBORETUM . 

Starting from the Arborway Gate; Proceed past the Hunnewell Visitors Center (restrooms available) along Meadow Rd. You come to a T intersection after a ½ mile. Left takes you to the Forest Hills Gate, turn right up Bussey Hill Rd. At 0.8 miles you'll pass by a path on your right that leads to the Dana Greenhouse (worth checking out) before coming to another intersection.

Note; Left takes you a ¼ mile to the top of Bussey Hill.

After checking out the hill, continue straight , passing by the Centre Street Gate on your right. Continue along Valley Rd to the next intersection. Straight leads to the South Street Gate so head right up Hemlock Hill Rd , After passing by the Walter Street Gate on your right you'll come to the Bussey Street Gate at 1.6 miles. Here you must cross the road to Peters Hill Gate and proceed up Peters Hill Rd. You then come to another T intersection that forms a loop around Peters Hill. Turn right up the steep road and follow to the top, where a cemetery is on your right and the turnoff to Peters Hill is on your left. 

Note; Left takes you 0.1 miles to the top of Peters Hill.  

After checking out the great views of  Boston's skyline return to Peters Hill Rd and continue left. You'll pass by the Mendum Street Gate at 2.1 miles. You can now loop back through the park by continuing down Peters Hill Rd, passing by the turn for the Poplar Gate on your right and returning to Peters Hill Gate. Return to the Arborway Gate for a loop of 4.8 miles.


Franklin Park:

Last Updated:       May 25, 2014

Length:                 Circuit Drive Loop; 2.5 miles

                               The Playstead Loop; 1.1 miles

                               The Wilderness Loop; 0.7 miles

Difficulty:             Moderate for biking. Paved with some hills.


From I-93, take exit 14 to Columbia Rd west for 2.2 miles to Blue Hill Ave (Route 28) and continue straight across the intersection on Franklin Park Rd, past the main entrance to the Franklin Park Zoo onto Circuit Drive. Circuit Drive takes you through Franklin Park where there are several parking options. Just past the turnoff for the rear entrance to the Franklin Park Zoo turn right into the "Valley Gates" parking lot (See map).

This is Boston's largest Park at 500 acres. Originally known as West Roxbury Park, it was renamed in honor of Benjamin Franklin. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York's Central Park and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The park consists of an 18-hole golf course, an athletic stadium and the FRANKLIN PARK ZOO . Unfortunately the parks trails and features are run down. Most of the original stonework is either crumbling or covered in vegetation. For information visit; FRANKLIN PARK . Franklin Park is part of the Emerald Necklace Greenway.

Starting from the Valley Gates parking lot; You can access all three Loop Trails.

For the Circuit Drive Loop; Cross over Circuit Drive to the paved trail and head right (west). Immediately take a left to check out Schoolmaster Hill on a short loop. There is a nice overlook of the golf course, as well as an unusual stone wall structure and picnic tables. Return to Circuit Drive and head left downhill. The path then pulls away from Circuit Drive. After 0.6 miles you come to an intersection for Ellicott Arch

Note; Right takes you underneath this stone arch (Circuit Drive) out to Forest Hills St.

Continuing past the arch you'll quickly come to an intersection.

Note; Right leads you out to Circuit Drive. You may cross the road to a paved trail that leads to the Arborway. Heading right will bring you to the Emerald Necklace Greenway, Arnold Arboretum and Southwest Corridor Greenway. *[Part of Loop]*

Bear left at the intersection and you'll come to the tennis courts. Take the cement trail to the left of the tennis courts and head into the woods. You'll come to an intersection at 0.8 miles. 

Note; Turn left to check out Scarboro Hill. Follow the paved road up a slight hill to the top of Scarborough Hill. It's about 0.3 miles to the top, where you'll see a semi circle stone wall containing historical plaques describing the park's origins and views of the park. Again, all overgrown. 

Continuing along the cement trail you'll come to Scarborough Pond. Take a left along the paved trail and you'll pass through a forest of Beech trees. You then cross over the pond via a stone bridge and continue straight. When you come to a black gate, bear left on the paved road that is closed to traffic. This is Circuit Drive. You'll get another nice view of the golf course on your left and there will be picnic tables to your right. You climb a small hill and come to the William Devine Golf Club House at 2 miles. Travel between the club house and parking lot out to Circuit Drive and head left along the paved path back to the Valley Gates parking lot for a 2.5 mile loop.

For The Playstead Loop; Head past the black gate at the rear of the parking lot and turn right. Follow the paved path left along the Zoo entrance to an old stone shelter. Head right across the road, then left along the paved path which now follows Pierpont Rd. The Playstead is across the road and zoo along your right. You'll come to the Franklin Park Zoo's rear entrance at 0.3 miles. Two huge statutes guard the zoo's entrance. Directly across from the entrance is Playstead Rd, which is closed to traffic. Proceed down this road and at a ½ mile, you'll be in front of "White" Schoolboy Stadium

Note; You may take a quick detour here by heading to your right up a gravel path that brings you to the old Bear Exhibits that were built in 1912. The zoo no longer uses this part of the park. 

Next, travel around the stadium to the opposite side, where you pass by a black gate and head straight along the old road, not left towards the fields. You pass by some old foundations on your left (Overlook Ruins) and then the trail splits, Head right along the paved path witch brings you back to the parking lot for a 1.1 mile loop. 

The Wilderness Loop; Head past the black gate at the rear of the parking lot and turn left. Follow the wide paved trail to an intersection and bear right. Enter the woods and stay on the wide paved trail as you travel up a slight hill. Pass by an old picnic area and bear left on the trail. This will bring you to a picnic area and pull out that probably had a scenic view at one point. Note the old stone stairs. The trail then brings you back down hill to Circuit Drive after 0.5 miles. Cross over Circuit Drive to the trail and turn left to return to the parking lot for a 0.7 mile loop.


Commonwealth Ave Mall & Bike Lane:

Last Updated:       May 1, 2017                          

Length:                 Commonwealth Ave Mall;  1.3 miles 

                                Commonwealth Ave BIKE LANE; 2.8 miles

Difficulty:             Commonwealth Ave Mall; Easy. Flat, paved path.

The Commonwealth Ave Mall is a wide Greenway separating Commonwealth Ave which runs one-way along both sides of the mall. It runs from the Public Gardens & Boston Common west to Kenmore St and the Kenmore T-Station. A BIKE LANE also follows Commonwealth Ave from the Public Gardens & Boston Common west to

Starting from Arlington Street, Public Gardens & Boston Common; Commonwealth Ave has BIKE LANES running along both sides of the mall. The Mall is comprised of a wide path that travels through small parks with benches and lots of statues. 

Note; No bikes allowed in Public Gardens & Boston Common.

Note; If you head north on Arlington St you can 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.

Heading west come to Dartmouth St after 0.4 miles.

Note; Turn left on Dartmouth St to access the Southwest Corridor Greenway . *[Part of Loop]*

Just before you reach Mass Ave after 0.9 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 right on Mass Ave to reach the Harvard Bridge and a ramp that will bring you down to the Charles River Bikeway

You reach Charlesgate West after 1.3 miles where you may access the Emerald Necklace Greenway. *[Part of Loop]*

The BIKE LANE continues west along Commonwealth Ave, however the Mall quickly disappears past the Kenmore T-Station and is replaced with RR tracks running between Commonwealth Ave. Come to Brighton Ave after 2.8 miles where the BIKE LANE ends.