MYSTIC RIVER PATHS:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated:September 22, 2013
Lower Mystic River
Loop; 2.9 miles .
Mystic Riverbend Park Spur Trail; 1.5 mile loop.
Draw 7 Park Spur Trail; 0.7 miles.
Wellington Greenway (including on-road detour); 1.9 miles.
Upper Mystic River East; 1.8 miles.
Upper Mystic River West; 2.9 miles.
Difficulty: Lower Mystic River Paths; Easy. Flat, paved or stone-dust surface.
Upper Mystic River Loop; Easy. Flat, paved or stone-dust surface but with some on-road sections and narrow pavement.
To start from McDonald Park for the Lower Mystic River Paths; From the junction of Routes 16 & 28, take Route 16 (Mystic Valley Parkway) west and immediately turn left into McDonald Park. The State Police building is straight. Turn right for the parking lot.
To start from Station Landing parking lot for the Wellington Greenway; From I-93 north take exit 29 to Route 28 north. Cross the river and take your first right into the Shops at Station Landing. Return to the entrance and travel left on the paved path alongside Route 28. Just before the bridge the Wellington Greenway veers left alongside the river.
The Upper Mystic River Paths are accessible from the northern terminus of the Alewife Brook Greenway where you'll also find a small parking lot. From the junction of Route 16 and the Mystic River Pkwy head west on the Mystic River Pkwy and take your first left to a small parking lot next to the trail.
The Lower Mystic River Reservation is made up of our four parks and runs through Medford and Somerville. The Mary O'Malley Park has a boat landing and tennis courts. The Torbert McDonald Park offers many natural sites and trails. Draw Seven Park has two soccer fields next to the dam. The park area called Mystic Lakes is a popular summer spot with its combination of beach facilities and natural shady areas. The parks are run by the Metropolitan District Commission and admission to the reservation and its parks is free. The bike trail runs along both sides of the river with the Route 16 & 28 Bridges acting as crossing links. The Upper Mystic River Reservation and paths are accessed from the eastern end of the Alewife Brook Paths and are less developed. A gap exists between the upper and lower reservations as far as bike paths go, but an on-road connection exists. For more information visit; MYSTIC RIVER RESERVATION . The Upper Mystic River Path connects to the Tri-Community Greenway , allowing you to continue north.
Alewife T Station, a stop on the commuter rail line into Boston is a hub for five trails. From the northwest, the Minuteman Bikeway terminates here and includes a spur for the Alewife Brook Greenway , just north of here, which connects to the Mystic River and Upper Mystic River Paths. Head south for the Fresh Pond Loop Trail and a future spur from Fresh Pond that will connect to the Charles River Bikeway via the partially completed Watertown Branch Rail Trail .West takes you along the Fitchburg Cutoff, a short trail that is part of the larger Mass Central Rail Trail, still a work in progress. East takes you along the Red Line Linear Path which turns into the Somerville Community Path , both of which are part of the larger Mass Central Rail Trail and will connect to Boston Harborwalk; Charlestown at North Point Park.
LOWER MYSTIC RIVER PATHS:
The Lower Mystic River Paths are comprised of a main loop trail [Lower Mystic River Loop] and spur trails [Mystic Riverbend Park Spur Trail, Draw 7 Park Spur Trail and Wellington Greenway] off this loop that you can explore and then return to the main loop, thus extending your ride. To reduce confusion I list the spur trails separately in the directions below. If you only wish to ride the loop, simply skip to the next Lower Mystic River Loop heading.
Lower Mystic River Loop:
Starting from the McDonald Park parking lot; The paved Lower Mystic River Loop starts at the end of the parking lot. You’ll immediately come to an intersection.
Note; Left takes you out to Route 28, but this is where you'll complete your return loop.
Continue straight (Mystic Valley Parkway
will be to your right) where you'll pass by a platform overlooking an inlet. Turn left, away from the parkway and follow
the outside trail, always keeping left, as you pass by inner connecting trails throughout
the park. The trail takes you down along the river, where, at 0.4 miles you’ll
come to a platform overlooking the Mystic River. The trail then changes
briefly to stone-dust before heading back inland where it becomes paved again. Keep to your
left as you pass by more inter connecting trails and this will bring you to a
wooden observation tower at 0.7 miles. This tower overlooks marsh between you and
the river and affords you views of downtown Boston. The trail then travels left alongside the parkway
bringing you to the Route
16 Bridge at 1 mile.
Mystic Riverbend Park Spur Trail:
Note; To access the Mystic Riverbend Park Spur Trail, as well as, the Upper Mystic River Paths turn left and travel underneath the Route 16 Bridge to the opposite side. This brings you to Mystic Riverbend Park. A map board is located here next to some granite benches, as well as, informational signs that continue along the trail. When you come to an intersection, continue straight. Next you’ll come to a traffic circle where the paved trail heads right. Keep left along the river on the stone-dust trail. The trail becomes paved again and then turns inland at about ¾ miles. This brings you to Andrews Middle School.
Note; To access the Upper Mystic River Paths continue straight out to Riverside Ave and travel left on-road (sidewalk available). See Upper Mystic River Paths below.
To complete the loop back to the Route 16 Bridge turn right and travel behind the school. Bear left at the fork and this will bring you to McGlynn Elementary School. Turn right and travel behind the school, past the playground staying straight. This will bring you back to the trail along the river. Turn left and you’ll eventually travel back underneath the Route 16 Bridge to your starting point after a 1 ½ mile loop.
Lower Mystic River Loop:
over the Route 16 Bridge to Somerville
and turn left. Continue straight at the intersection, as left only takes you
underneath the bridge to the opposite side. The trail takes you between the
river and I-93 until you come to the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse at
1.8 miles. There are benches and picnic tables located here.
Continue straight past the boathouse out to Shore Drive
where you'll head left along the trail. Follow alongside Shore Drive and just
before Route 28 you'll turn left to access a boardwalk bypass that takes you underneath
busy Route 28 to the eastern side of the Wellington
at 2.2 miles.
Draw 7 Park Spur Trail:
Note; To access the Draw 7 Park Spur Trail head left along the wide paved trail as it travels alongside the river and includes a couple of overlooks. Travel through Assembly Square Park before passing by the Winter Hill Yacht Club and underneath the subways “Orange” T-Line. This brings you to Draw 7 Park and the Craddock Locks at the Amelia Earhart Dam***. There is a picnic pavilion and benches overlooking the river. You can also see the Bunker Hill Monument from here. The trail currently ends after 0.7 miles underneath a railroad bridge. Future plans call for continuing the trail along the river through the MBTA’s Charlestown Yards and connecting to theCharlestown Harborwalk next to the Route 99 Bridge. Return to the Wellington Bridge for a 1.4 mile loop.
Lower Mystic River Loop:
To complete the Lower Mystic River Loop head right over the Wellington Bridge (The walkway along the bridge is narrow/wide shoulder if biking) and you’ll return to Medford. You'll rejoin the paved trail and come to an intersection at 2.4 miles. Continue straight alongside Route 28 to complete your loop back to McDonald Park.
Note; To access the Wellington Greenway, which takes you east along the Mystic River to the confluence of the Malden River, turn right at the intersection along the paved trail and you’ll pass through a small park next to Station Landing before coming to a boat launch and the Mystic Wellington Yacht Club. The trail continues alongside the river and underneath a RR Trestle before bringing you to the mouth of the Malden River and the Overlook at 0.5 miles. The Overlook sits at the end of the peninsula and includes a circular granite seating area with views of the Mystic & Malden Rivers and the Amelia Earhart Dam. The trail then continues north between the Malden River and RR tracks to the Wellington Station parking lot where the trail currently ends after 0.6 miles. Future plans call for continuing the trail northward along the Malden River and connecting into the existing path next to the Wellington Business Park, which then connects to the Rivers Edge Trail.
Note; You may access these paths by traveling through the parking lot to the MBTA’s Wellington T-Station on the "Orange-Line". For more information visit; BIKES ON MBTA .
Continue past the station and out the exit keeping
left on Rivers Edge Drive. After traveling underneath Route 16 a cross-light
takes you over the on-ramp to a sidewalk. Turn right and follow the cement path
east through a canopy of trees. This soon gives way to a paved path that travels
around an open field and back along the river. The path widens and soon brings
you to the Park at Rivers Edge at 1.4 miles. The trail continues through
the narrow ribbon of a park which includes pedestrian only
stone-dust paths alongside the river, informational signs and Tufts
University Boathouse. The trail then loops around past Rivers Edge Drive at
1.9 miles and travels back the way you came.
for a 3.8 mile loop.
Lower Mystic River Loop:
From the intersection continue straight along Route 28 to a cross-light next to the Station Landing parking lot that will take you over this very busy road. Turn left and head back towards the Wellington Bridge. A paved trail bears right away from the road. Follow this trail over a wooden bridge. The trail has very thick overgrowth. Keep to your left all intersections and you'll return to the McDonald Park parking lot after a 2.9 mile loop. If you rode all of the Spur Trails your total is 8.2 miles.
UPPER MYSTIC RIVER PATHS:
Starting from the northern terminus of the Alewife Brook Greenway; From the parking lot a crosswalk will take you over the Mystic River Pkwy.
Heading West; Head straight along the stone-dust Upper Mystic River Path that travels west along the southern side of the Mystic River. When you reach the River St/Harvard Ave bridge, turn left for a cross-light. The path continues northwest along the river, but the stone-dust path is narrow and quickly turns into a hard packed path after 0.5 miles. Some tree root issues. You'll come to the Arlington traffic circle at 0.8 miles. The path ends here, so head right over the High St bridge to the West Medford side of the river. Here a hard packed dirt path travels both north & south along the river.
Note; We headed south (right) to complete a loop. After passing by Dugger Park you'll come to the River St/Harvard Ave bridge. Head right over this bridge and return to the stone-dust path on your left which will bring you back to the Alewife Brook Greenway for a 1.6 mile loop.
To continue north (I haven't checked out this section by bike) continue along a narrow dirt path between the parkway and eastern side of the river (A BIKE LANE follows the parkway north). The trail travels along the Upper Mystic Lakes, which are divided by a causeway as you pass by Mystic Lakes SP at 1.6 miles. The narrow path may consist of some stone-dust, not sure. Parking lot located here. Road leads to a boat launch and Tufts Boat House. The trail continues north, passing another parking lot where the trail widens and appears to be stone-dust. After 2.3 miles you'll come to Shannon Beach parking lot. A paved path loops through the park then back out to the parkway continuing north. After crossing a bridge it turns into a sidewalk. Come to a crosswalk after 2.9 miles which leads into the Wedgemere Station parking lot, where you can connect to the Tri-Community Greenway . This is the end of the Upper Mystic River Path.
Heading East; Turn right and follow the narrow paved Upper Mystic River Path alongside the Mystic River Pkwy. Cross over Alewife Brook where the path pulls away from the road. Cross Boston Ave at 0.3 miles and the narrow path parallels the road again. Cross over the Mystic River followed by a crosswalk over Auburn St. Another crosswalk takes you over the Mystic River Pkwy where the path currently ends after 0.5 miles.
Note; Current plans call for paving a path through the field on your right through Veterans Memorial Park and connecting into a completed section off Winthrop St.
To connect to the next section you'll need to travel on-road along the Mystic River Pkwy (not much of a shoulder/narrow dirt path alongside the road). Turn right on Winthrop St and follow the paved path past the fields of Veterans Memorial Park. Just before the river a crosswalk at 1 mile takes you over to a paved path that runs back alongside the Mystic River. The path turns to stone-dust as it passes by the Condon Band Shell and a canoe put-in before passing by the Condon Band Shell Park parking lot and returning to the Mystic River Pkwy at 1.3 miles. Turn right following the paved path alongside the road to a cross-light.
Note; The paved path to your right is a spur out to South St.
Cross the Mystic River Pkwy and you'll come to a pedestrian bridge on your left.
Note; This pedestrian bridge travels over the river and brings you to High St in Medford.
Continue straight along the paved trail and you'll come to Main St at 1.5 miles. Utilize the crosswalk and then turn left up Main St along the sidewalk. This brings you to Clippership Drive on your right where you'll find a sidewalk and bike lane. A narrow greenway along your right constitutes Clippership Park where you'll find an informational sign and benches overlooking the river. Come to Riverside Ave at 1.8 miles.
Note; If you travel right on-road along Riverside Ave (sidewalk available) you'll come to the entrance to Andrews & McGlynn Middle Schools (Freedom Way) at 2.3 miles. Turn right down Freedom Way and bear right past the school. This brings you to a paved path. See Mystic Riverbend Park Spur Trail above for detailed trail information. If you follow the paved trail straight it will bring you back alongside the Mystic River and eventually underneath Route 16 to the Lower Mystic River Path at 3.1 miles. See Lower Mystic River Paths above. Continuing east you'll come to the McDonald Park parking lot after 4 miles.
***Extensive salt marsh lined the banks of the Mystic River until 1909, when the first dam was built across the river (Craddock Locks), converting salt marsh to freshwater marsh and enabling development. Today's dam, named for Amelia Earhart, was built in 1966. It converted the Malden River to freshwater non-tidal. This dam was more sophisticated than the simple iron gates of the Craddock Locks. It is a permanent concrete structure with three passages to allow boats to pass through. There is a tower where workers observe incoming boats and open the lock accordingly. The dam is equipped with a pump, and is able to pump freshwater downstream even during high tide to prevent flooding. The river flows backwards at times depending on the dam. It was modeled after the Charles River Dam, which is very similar in structure and purpose. Fish passage has been a problem, as there is no working fish ladder there, but workers do leave the locks open at times to allow fish to pass. Currently, there is no pedestrian access to the dam, although many people are pushing to allow access.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT