The Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail-Trail shares its trailhead at Depot Park in Bedford with the Minuteman Bikeway
and Reformatory Branch Trail
. Serving mainly as a commuter route, this trail extends just over 3 miles north, past woods and residences to the Billerica town line. It also makes a nice diversion for Minuteman Bikeway users looking to picnic at Fawn Lake.
The trail follows the bed of the 1877 Billerica & Bedford Railroad, the nation's first 2-foot narrow gauge railway. In 1885, the Boston & Lowell Railroad built a standard gauge extension of the line. The Lexington Branch served five passenger stations: Bedford Springs, South Billerica, Turnpike, Billerica and Bennett Hall. The railroad abandoned the extension in 1962, and the town of Bedford purchased it to create the trail. Cyclists should use either hybrid or mountain bikes, as portions of the route are surfaced with stone dust.
Metal gates signal the start of the asphalt-paved trail at Loomis Street. Along the first mile to Fawn Lake, you'll pass Page Field and a Revolutionary War monument on the right, followed by a retail district. Use caution at the unmarked Great Road intersection. Beyond this crossing, the trail surface changes to stone dust.
A passenger station once stood at the intersection on Springs Road. Look for the electromagnetic "wigwag" (a railroad grade crossing signal) that once warned approaching motorists. Beyond the Pine Hill Road intersection, to the left of the trail, York Conservation Area offers a loop trail most suitable for hikers. A half mile farther is Fawn Lake on the right, which provides a welcome stop for a picnic along Sweetwater Avenue, or a stroll around the pond.
Back on the Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail-Trail, and approaching its end, the trail becomes increasingly sandy. Metal gates signal the Billerica town line about 0.25 mile before Springs Road, where the trail ends abruptly. A private residential street and rough trail follow the remainder of the rail bed before it disappears entirely in Technology Park.
On weekends, consider returning to Bedford Depot Park for a tour of the charmingly restored freight house (open seasonally), which holds antique photos and railroad memorabilia.
To reach the Bedford Depot Park trailhead from Boston, take Interstate 495 to State Route 3 south or I-95 to Route 3 north. From Route 3, take Exit 26 and follow State Route 62 west into Bedford. Trailhead parking is available.