The Assabet River Rail-Trail provides a forested escape from the surrounding urban bustle. Traveling 5.6 miles (with plans to expand it) the trail connects the towns of Hudson and Marlborough and parallels the scenic Assabet River. As of autumn 2012, the trail is in three disconnected sections between Marlborough and Maynard. The trail crosses the Assabet River five times, the last crossing on a refurbished, historical wrought-iron railroad bridge. The 12-foot-wide corridor makes an excellent cycling routejust take care maneuvering between bollards located at the intersection of trails and roads; they are closer together than most.
The trail begins along State Route 62 in Hudson, marked by a restored 1921 blue caboose across the road from an ice-cream store. Look for the trailhead parking area. Passing through downtown Hudson, the trail weaves through the awkward three-way intersection of Villa do Porto Boulevard, Broad Street and the South Street extension.
Returning to the rail corridor, you'll cross a wooden bridge, followed by more trailhead parking on your right. The forested trail here provides a welcome buffer from the surrounding residential and urban landscape. At mile 2.4, you'll cross the Marlborough town line through a tunnel. The onward trail skirts a main road north, passing the Boston Scientific medical research and corporate center before reaching Fitchburg Street. Be careful at this intersection, since there are no bike lanes and the traffic light cycle doesn't allow much time to cross.
Beyond the crossing, there are no bike lanes. Look for the trail sign after the intersection, and you will find yourself leaving the traffic behind. As the path diverges from the road, the adjacent landscaped swathes on both sides of the route shield you from the busy urban environment. Side trails connect to the Assabet along this stretch.
Eventually, the trail will extend uninterrupted to South Acton along the Marlborough Branch Railroad corridor, which connected the Fitchburg and Massachusetts Central railroad lines. The five communities along the corridor are working together to develop the rail-trail.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Wilkins Street trailhead in Hudson, take Interstate 495 to State Route 62 toward Hudson. Once in town, continue through the rotary to the parking lot on Wilkins Street.
To reach trailhead parking in Marlborough, take I-495 to State Route 20/Granger Boulevard toward Marlborough. Turn left on State Route 85/Bolton Street, left on Union Street then left again on Hudson Street. The parking lot is across from Kelleher Field and Jefferson Street.
Not all paved
From my home in NE Bolton, I rode the Hudson/Marlboro section both ways and found the 20 mile ride delightful. I will post a picture or 2. Today, noting that the map shows it also in solid red, I set out for the Stow/Maynard part and was very disappointed ...
Maynard to Stow section, part of a half century ride
A delightful half century: http://tinyurl.com/Bedford-Marlboro-HalfCentury
...which incorporated the two larger currently open sections of the Assabet River Rail Trail (and the Reformatory Branch Rail Trail and the Minuteman Rail Trail).
The section ...
Beautiful trail, but more of a grade than most rail trails
The 5.6 mile length of this trail makes it perfect for a short afternoon ride. Excellent surface of fairly new pavement on the entire trail. Fairly scenic with a few very nice vistas, and rest areas with benches at several points. Just be aware the the ...