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 15 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.

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 Greenway 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 , 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., Americas 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 .

Note: The paths of Franklin Park were repaved in 2018. Not sure which ones.

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 cement 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  You come back out alongside Circuit Drive and head left downhill. The narrow path pulls away from Circuit Drive along a wider cement path (poor shape). 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 brings you out to Circuit Drive where a paved trail leads to the Arborway. Heading right will bring you to the Emerald Necklace Greenway , Arnold Arboretum and Southwest Corridor Greenway .

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 back to the 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 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.