Fun extension of the Minuteman
I utilize the Reformatory Branch Trail on my way from Somerville to Walden Pond in Concord, and it's one of my favorite parts of the ride. The trail is unpaved and frequently very bumpy due to roots, rocks, manhole covers, and other obstacles, but it is FUN! I ride a hybrid/cruiser bike, and as it is my only bike, I can't compare how this ride might be on a road bike.
I especially enjoy the section on the west side where the trail forms small rolling hills, and if you bike fast enough it feels like you're riding a roller coaster.
This trail is certainly not for everyone or every bike, but I think it's a joy to ride. Contributing to the five star review I'm giving this trail is the trail maintenance. Last time I rode it, there was a large downed tree, with the branchy part covering the path. It was easy enough to walk around (but not over), but I had to get off my bike. A few hours later, when I was riding back home, the tree was already cleaned up!
Begins Where Minuteman Ends
"If you’ve reached the Minuteman Bikeway’s Bedford trailhead after starting at a point due east and think that’s as far west as the old railroad right-of way will take you, well you’re simply mistaken. You may head west on Railroad Avenue in Bedford, rejoin the right-of-way within a few city blocks, and continue on through to Concord.
With the exception of short paved segment in western Bedford used as an access road to a municipal utility station, the Reformatory Branch Trail is a hard packed dirt surface with many exposed roots, rocks, and old railroad ties in place. Trail width along most of the route is what I would classify as single track; if you’re the type that picks up poison ivy easily, this trail isn’t for you. However, a portion of the trail does cut through a US Government Wildlife Conservation Area and the surface there is much wider. There are a few pretty busy street crossing along the way, none with crosswalks or safety signs.
For the most part views along the trail are limited to heavily wooded areas and the backs of a few homes. The Bedford trailhead is adjacent to an athletic field and the trail terminates in Concord near a gas station/convenience store. Markers posted on trees at several points along the route identify this route a being a piece of the “Bay Circuit Trail” network.
If you have a mountain bike with suspension or a comfortable pair of hiking shoes, this trail should be included on your list of “things to do.”"