MINUTEMAN BIKEWAY:

BEDFORD-NORTH CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS

BEDFORD NARROW GAUGE SPUR:

BEDFORD-BILLERICA, MASSACHUSETTS

REFORMATORY BRANCH RAIL TRAIL:

BEDFORD-CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS

ARLINGTON RESERVOIR LOOP TRAIL:

ARLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

BEDFORD DEPOT PARK in Bedford is a "Hub" for 3 Trails (plus interconnecting Trails).

  For more information visit; MINUTEMAN BIKEWAY .  

Reformatory Branch Rail Trail:

Last Updated:      February 08, 2024

Length:                Reformatory Branch Rail Trail; 3.9 miles

Difficulty:            Moderate. Flat, hard packed dirt and gravel rail trail. Avoid after heavy rains. Mt bike recommended.

Directions:

To start from the Bedford Depot in Bedford [Eastern End]; From I-95, take exit 49B to Routes 4 & 225 northwest for 1.9 miles and you’ll come to Loomis St. Turn left down Loomis St. Just before the intersection of South Rd will be the parking lot on your left for Bedford Depot. If you continue straight across South Rd along Railroad Ave for 0.4 miles it will bring you to the Railroad Ave parking lot and actual start of the trail.

The Reformatory Branch Rail Trail follows a rail line built from Bedford West to Concord in 1873 by the Boston & Lowell Railroad, later acquired by the Boston & Maine Railroad. Locals dubbed it the Reformatory Branch after it extended to Reformatory Station, next to a state prison, in 1879. In Concord you can check out the North Bridge, where the patriot militia stood down British soldiers in 1775.

Starting from Bedford Depot Park in Bedford [Eastern End]; Cross South Rd and travel West 0.4 miles along Railroad Ave to the Railroad Ave parking lot and actual start of the trail. Kiosk here. I haven't checked out this trail yet, as I was waiting for it to be improved. This trail was slated for improvement, but in 2022 the town voted it down. Unfortunate.

Bedford Narrow Gauge Spur: 

Last Updated:      February 08, 2024

Length:                Bedford Narrow Gauge Spur; 3 miles

Difficulty:            Easy. Flat, stone dust rail trail.

Directions:

From I-95, take exit 49B to Routes 4 & 225 northwest for 1.9 miles and you’ll come to Loomis St.

To start from the Bedford Depot in Bedford [Southern End]; Turn left down Loomis St. Just before the intersection of South Rd, you will see where the trailhead begins on your right, at a metal gate. To your left is the Bedford Depot. The Minuteman Bikeway begins here as well.

To start from the Fawn Lake Conservation Area [Northern End]; Continue past Loomis St and you’ll come to the Route 62 intersection. Route 4 turns right (also called North Rd). Take Route 4 for 1 ½ miles and turn right onto Sweetwater Rd. Travel a ½ mile and you’ll come to the parking lot along the right side, next to where the trail crosses.

The Bedford Narrow Gauge Spur Trail follows the route of the Billerica & Bedford Railroad, built in 1877 with a narrow 2-foot-wide track to save money on construction costs. The company soon went bankrupt anyway, and in 1885 the Boston & Lowell Railroad used the corridor to build a standard-gauge railroad. The tracks went out of use in 1962. The trail travels North from the Bedford Depot in Bedford to Billerica. The trail will soon continue through Billerica as the Yankee Doodle Bikeway.

Starting from the Bedford Depot in Bedford [Southern End]; Head back to Loomis St and cross over to the metal gate. The Bedford Narrow Gauge Spur Trail starts out paved as it travels North and has a small section of Narrow Gauge Track to highlight just how much narrower this railroad track was compared to regular gauge track. The paved section is only a ¼ mile long and ends at Routes 4 & 225. You cross over here to where the trail then turns to stone-dust. You cross Springs and Pine Hill Roads before passing by two water towers. A large stone retaining wall will then parallel the trail to your right. At this point keep an eye out to your left for a post with a trail Map and a sign posted to a tree. 

Note; This is the York Conservation Area. It includes a hiking trail that comes out back on the trail further ahead. 

Continue along the trail and pass by where the hiking trail reenters the Bedford Narrow Gauge Spur Trail. After 2 miles you pass through the Fawn Lake Conservation Area parking lot. A famous resort once stood near here, the Hotel Sweetwater. Its springs were thought to have medicinal benefits, and people traveled to the resort by train to bath in them. A marked walking path circles the pond. The trail then ends at a Springs Rd in Billerica after 3 miles.

Note; The Town of Billerica plans to connect the Bedford Narrow Gauge Spur Trail to the future Yankee Doodle Bikeway, starting in 2024 extending the trail by 4 miles. See; Map Below.

        Minuteman Bikeway:

Last Updated:       February 08, 2024

Length:                 Minuteman Bikeway; 10.1 miles.

Difficulty:             Easy. Relatively flat, paved rail trail.

Directions:

To start from Bedford [Northern End]; From I-95, take exit 49B to Routes 4 & 225 (Bedford St) northwest for 1.9 miles. Turn left down Loomis St and follow to Bedford Depot Park on your left

To start from Lexington [Central Section]; From I-95, take exit 49A to Routes 4 & 225 (Bedford St)  southeast for 1.7 miles. Turn left (after Meriam St) at Depot Square and park in the municipal parking lot located straight ahead. Trail runs parallel to the lot. 

To start from Thorndike Field in Arlington [Southern Section]; From I-95, take exit 45 to Route 2 east to Alewife. Follow the exit for Routes 3 & 16 northeast. Turn left onto Mass Ave at the next intersection and continue for a ½ mile. Turn left on Lake St and left on Margaret St. The parking lot is located at the end of the road, next to the trail.

To start from Alewife T-Station in Arlington [Southern End]; Take Boston's Red-Line to access this station. See; MBTA for more information. For information about taking your bike on the subway. See; MBTA/BIKES . From I-95, take exit 45 to Route 2 east to Alewife. Take the exit for Alewife Station Access Rd and park at the T-Station's parking garage.  

The Minuteman Bikeway follows the former route of the Lexington & West Cambridge Railroad which traveled from North Cambridge Northwest to Bedford. Built in 1846 and extended in 1874, the rail line was finally discontinued in 1981.

Starting from Bedford Depot Park in Bedford [Northwestern End]; Be sure to check out the old Bedford Depot Freight House, if it’s open. It has information on the history of the railroad and also sells some refreshments. Next to the Depot is an old Boston & Maine Railroad passenger car. Map Board located here. West, across South Rd, is the BIKEWAY SOURCE bike shop. Informational signs are located along the trail. 

Note; From the Bedford Depot Park in Bedford, the Minuteman Bikeway is flat for the first 1.5 miles as it travels Southeast, followed by a slight upgrade for the next 2 miles to Lexington. From Lexington Southeast, it's a slightly downhill grade most of the rest of the way to Arlington. So if you are planning on biking up and back you would probably be better off starting from North Cambridge and getting most of the uphill grade out of the way.

As you start out, the Minuteman Bikeway will immediately pass by the former Bedford Railroad Depot to your left, as it travels Southeast. After a ¼ mile, note the two old Whistle stop markers with the yellow wood attached to them on your left. Granite Mileage Markers every mile along the route. A cross light takes you over Hartwell Ave at 1.5 miles where you travel alongside Tophet Swamp. Two miles takes you over I-95 via an old railroad trestle. Another cross-light over Route 4 at 2.7 miles. Cross Hancock St in Lexington at 3.7 miles. To your right is the Lexington Common NHS. Pass by the Lexington Visitor Center and the old Lexington Depot. A parking lot is located here.

Note; You can take a quick detour here to check out the historic sights, such as Lexington Common, the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. There are also shops and restaurants. The Visitor Center has restrooms. You can also access the Battle Road Trail from here by following Mass Ave West.

From Lexington the trail has a slight downhill grade. Travel underneath Route 2A at 5.2 miles and past Arlington's Great Meadows along your left. Cross Bow St and enter Arlington. After you travel underneath Drake Rd you'll pass by a Spur Trail on your left at 6.6 miles.

Note; This paved trail brings you North to the Hurd Field parking lot. Here you'll find picnic tables, water fountain & Map Board, as well as, a narrow, 0.25 mile paved trail that Loops around the ball field. Off this Loop Trail is another paved Spur Trail that will take you up to the Arlington Reservoir Loop Trail after 0.1 miles.

Continuing Southeast the trail  has a few road crossings as it either travels over or under most roads. A few parks along the way. You'll pass by a BIKE STATION and the Arlington Visitor Center as you come to Mystic St at 8.6 miles. Look up at the overhead blue Minuteman Bikeway sign and it will show you how to navigate through town to continue along the trail. Head right out to Mass Ave. Shops and restaurants located here.

Note; Across Mystic St is Whitmore Park where you'll find some old RR tracks preserved along with the CYRUS DALLIN MUSEUM .

Cross Mass Ave and head left along a BIKE LANE for 1 block, then turn right on Swan Pl and you'll pick up the trail again under another blue Minuteman Bikeway sign. Travel past Spy Pond on your right where you'll find picnic tables, a path and playground. The trail then travels between the Thorndike Field parking lot on your right and Magnolia Park to your left. Continuing along the trail you'll pass by the entrance for the Alewife Brook Greenway on your left at 9.9 miles before traveling underneath Route 2. Look right across Alewife Station Access Rd to spot where the Alewife Brook Greenway heads West. Come to the Alewife T- Station "Hub" in Cambridge after 10.1 miles. Spot the massive granite monoliths with the fish carvings.

  In Cambridge at Alewife T- Station, a stop on the commuter rail line into Boston is a "Hub" for 5 Trails (plus interconnecting Trails). 

Arlington Reservoir Loop Trail:

Last Updated:       February 08, 2024

Length:                 Arlington Reservoir Loop Trail; 1 mile.

Difficulty:             Easy. Flat, stone-dust trail.

Directions:

To start from the Arlington Reservoir parking lot Arlington [Eastern End]; From I-95, take exit 45 to Route 2 east towards Alewife. Take exit 133 to Park Ave and head left, north, for 1.2 miles to Lowell St and turn left. parking lot on your left.

In Arlington, a Spur Trail off the Minuteman Bikeway leads to the Arlington Reservoir Loop Trail. For more information visit; ARLINGTON RESERVOIR .

Starting from the Arlington Reservoir parking lot Arlington [Eastern End]; Heading South, the stone-dust Arlington Reservoir Loop Trail travels alongside the reservoir along a shaded corridor. Map Boards & informational signs located all along the route, along with granite Mileage Markers every 0.25 miles. Cross a spillway and come to an intersection.

Note; Left, South, a paved trail will bring you to Hurd Field where a narrow, 0.25 mile paved trail Loops around it. Right a wide, paved trail brings you past a Map Board, water fountain and picnic tables to the Hurd Field parking lot at 0.1 miles where you can also connect to the Minuteman Bikeway.

Continuing around the reservoir you cross another bridge and dam and pass by a fishing pier at 0.2 miles. Pass by Rindge Park on your left, which has a playground, before you come to a Map Board for ACROSS LEXINGTON (It is a network of marked trails and paths for walkers, runners and trail bikers. The routes use existing public ways to connect the town center with various historic sites, schools and conservation areas) at 0.5 miles. Come to Reservoir Beach at 0.7 miles.

Note; A gate blocks access to the beach.

Head right, along a narrow, hard packed dirt & grass trail that follows a causeway around Reservoir Beach. This brings you back to the Arlington Reservoir parking lot. Head right to complete your 1 mile Loop.

HH

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