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Many commuters choose the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway for freedom from congested traffic in the northwest Boston suburbs. For others, the 10.1-mile paved trail between Cambridge and Bedford serves as a historical route through the opening salvos of the American Revolution. The rail-trail roughly traces Paul Revere’s midnight ride in April 1775 to warn local militias about advancing British troops. Today, it connects a rapid transit station in Cambridge with Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford.
The rail-trail uses a corridor first laid out in the 1840s for the Lexington & West Cambridge Railroad, which later became the Boston & Lowell Railroad in 1870 and the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1887. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) bought the line in 1976, shutting down passenger service in 1977 and freight service in 1981. The Minuteman Bikeway opened in 1993 and joined Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2008.
Starting at the MBTA Alewife Station in Cambridge (bikes are allowed on Red Line trains in off-peak hours), you’ll immediately pass the Alewife Linear Park trail that heads east toward Somerville and the Fitchburg Cutoff Path heading west (both part of the Mass Central Rail Trail). The trail passes the 100-acre Spy Pond in Arlington before arriving at a short, on-road section in historic Arlington Center at mile 1.5. Here, follow the signs, bike lanes, and pedestrian signals to cross Swan Place, Massachusetts Avenue/US 3, and Mystic Street/MA 60 to regain the bikeway on the north side of the intersection.
Trailside displays tell the history of these first battles of the Revolutionary War. One of the first is in Arlington (named Menotomy in Colonial times), where you’ll learn about the Battle at the Foot of the Rocks located just a couple of blocks off the trail. About 3 miles later in Arlington, you’ll pass the 183-acre Great Meadows, followed by the Tower Park picnic grounds—both sites of Revolutionary battles—-and the Munroe Tavern, used as a headquarters during the conflict.
The Lexington Visitor Center sits next to the trail, which is a block away from Lexington Battle Green, where minutemen resisted British soldiers. The trail veers away from Massachusetts Avenue as it leaves Lexington and becomes a wooded corridor through quiet neighborhoods for its last 3.7 miles to Bedford Depot Park. Railroad history is celebrated here at a vintage depot freight house and a restored passenger rail car. The trail meets the northbound Narrow-Gauge Rail-Trail across Loomis Street. In the planning stages, an extension of the Minuteman Bikeway will continue west along Railroad Avenue for 0.3 mile to meet the Reformatory Branch Trail toward Concord.
The trail can be congested with bicyclists during morning and evening commutes and with pedestrians on weekends and lunch hours. Local laws require that bicyclists dismount when using sidewalks in city centers. Restaurants, pubs, markets, and bike shops are located close to the path.
To reach the Cambridge trailhead by subway, take the MBTA Red Line to the Alewife Station. Bicycles are allowed on weekends and during off-peak hours on weekdays; see mbta.com for details. A Blue Bikes bike-share station is located at the Alewife Station (bluebikes.com). Pick up the trail on the north side of the terminal.
To reach the Cambridge trailhead by car from I-95, take Exit 29A to MA 2 toward Boston. Go 5.9 miles and take the Alewife Station exit. The Alewife Station Access Road becomes Steel Place. Go 0.4 mile and turn left into the parking garage (fee charged). The trail starts on the north side of the building.
To reach Bedford Depot Park from I-95, take Exit 31B onto MA 4 N/MA 225 W toward Bedford. Turn right, and go 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Loomis St. In 0.3 mile look for Bedford Depot Park on the left and turn into the parking lot. The trail starts at the locomotive display at the west end of the park.
We are from Chicago and rode this trail. We found it very pleasant even dodging rain drops. The trail is clean and smooth with a moderate amount of traffic. Most traffic seemed to be commuter traffic. We enjoyed the historic portions of the trail and loved Lexington along the way. The old commuter coach at the Bedford Station is a nice touch of the days the trail served as a rail line. We did ride the trail from end pint to end point however after the Bedford Station the trail seems to be less marked and resorts to street traffic. All in all a great inter urban commuter trail.
We had given up on skating the Minuteman in 2015: the root bumps were so big and numerous that we couldn't skate over them anymore. A bunch of repaving, and the situation is much better. We're back!
The Western end in Bedford has been totally repaved, and is fantastic. We had some problems with stones thrown onto the path by mowers, but, the pavement itself was great. The section through Lexington still has some of the old cobblestone street warnings, which are a hazard to skaters. Most of the root bumps have been smoothed and repaved. The trail in Belmont and Arlington is in good shape, and the crossings in Arlington Center have been vastly improved. I just wish that they hadn't included a short brick section that you have to brake on at the first light. To trail designers: bricks prevent braking on skates!
The only real hazards left are in the Cambridge section in Alewife. After you cross under Rt. 2, there are fissures, an old wood bridge, and cobblestones so bumpy you have to step around them. Needs replacement!
Also, the new crossings in Arlington have yellow ADA bump mats at the road crossings. Path designers should know that as a skater slows to cross streets, those bumps can be enough to stop him/her and cause a fall into the street. Please find a better solution!
The takeaway: a busy, but, pleasant and improving trail that is worthwhile again.
2nd time riding the Minuteman, and I'm having a hard time figuring out how this trail got Hall of Fame status? We rode from Bedford to Arlington, where the trail seems to disappear into city streets. Arlington and Lexington are nice, but the rest of the trail leaves a lot to be desired. The Windham trail in NH is much more scenic, and without the several road crossings.
I have enjoyed this trail for many years. Most users are considerate excepting the large groups of walkers who span the entire width of the trail. There ARE granite mile markers from Arlington to Bedford . I have dismounted from my bike and walked around Lexington Green to appreciate and honor the courage of those Patriots who risked all for the freedom we enjoy today !
We went for a bike ride on this trail on a hot day. It was 90 degrees but the trial was shaded so didn't feel like 90s at all. Few stop signs to watch out for cars but still safe for kids as well. Easy trail. Would love to go again.
Beautiful trail with lots of interesting historical exhibits along the way. Smooth pavement all the way. Your major problem is not being too distracted by the scenery and avoiding people coming from the other direction.
This is a beautiful tree-lined trail that runs through neighborhoods and past meadows. I live in Boston, so it's nice to have a rail trail nearby to enjoy a relaxing bike ride without the hustle and bustle of cars. There is a $7 flat rate to park at the Alewife T garage, but it's worth it for the easy access to the trail. From Alewife, there is one major intersection you have to cross, which involves waiting twice; otherwise, it's smooth riding with just a few minor road crossings.
Great mid week ride with my wife. We are not expert riders, but we enjoy our rail trails. This one is great. Paved the whole way and mostly flat, with gradual grades here and there. There were a few people riding and walking, but not too bad. I can only imaging how bad it would be on the weekend.
I just love this trail. Well maintained and good parking options.
Definitely a busy trail, but well worth the ride. 22 miles round trip. Playgrounds, baseball fields, downtown Cambridge, and a neat little cafe called Kickstand to stop at on the way. You could definitely make a day out of it. Parking in Bedford is free, some further lots on the trail cost money, but it's not much. Enjoy!
My husband and I enjoyed our weekend in Lexington, MA. We found the beginning of the bike path not far from our hotel, Quality Inn in Lexington. The bike path starts in Bedford MA with plenty of parking. The trail is 11.6. We traveled from start to finish, but do bike trails really finish? We stopped in Cambridge MA overlooking the Charles River. Beautiful trail that takes you in the heart of Lexington to check out the historical museum/visiting center, The Buckman Tavern and lots more historical places. Easy on and off and plenty of parking for your bikes. We continued on the nicely paved, low root trail. It is a communter trail so many people were on it but with early warning that you are coming up allowed the walkers and runners a chance to slide to the right. We came across Spy Pond Lake, a beautiful area with many picnic areas, children's play scape, and ability to go kayaking if you wish. We continued and found a doggie park right on the bike path and stopped in to enjoy the dogs playing. Further up you venture into the City more with crossing over a bridge and cross walks but very manageable. Signs were easy to see. Once we saw the River, we returned to Lexington and grabbed a smoothie and snacks. Loved the day and we will be back.
Loved it. water fountains along the way as well as places for a pit stop
I commute on the Minuteman from Arlington to Lexington, and it's really great for it.
On weekdays, the trail makes the commute easy for me.
On weekends, esp. nice days, it's pretty crowded by bikes, skates, walking, kids and dogs.
Very small section of it is bumpy.
I've ridden all of it. It's not as scenic as some of other trails, but for an urban-to-suburaban trail, it's as good as it gets.
I have been riding the minuteman for many many years ( 18 )+ , Its a great path to get out on and enjoy a ride. The path has seen many changes over the years , More people out enjoying it ! This is a plus for everyone :-) , Its great to see that people take there bicycle's out to get fresh air and enjoy the feeling of cycling ! I've been commuting by bicycle every day of the week for 15 years now ,I put huge miles on my bike around 300 to 400 miles a week I Love it !,It feels good. But I won't ride the path on the weekend , The weekend is a joke , The path is filled with these lance armstrong look alikes and there $5,000 bikes ! Its a shame , Lots of people / cyclist have gotten hurt from these out of control Cyclists who don't care to say on your left or right ! I've seen many young kids hurt due to the fact of cyclists flying at a high rate of speed ! I wish the Path had speed bumps to slow the speed down , It did many years ago :-) There are many road croasing ! """ STOP and LOOK """ Before flying out !! A 200 pound cyclist has No Chance for a 2 ton car , Wear a Helmet it does not have to be a top notch one . Just one to protect you from a car or a in coming cyclists who's not paying attention "aka" on the phone ! And lights are nice to have on the Minute Man Path if your out passed sunset , But please do not have them flashing on the path , It can distract other cyclist from the front of you ! The MinuteMan Bike Path from Alewife To Bedford is a hour or so up and 45 mins back ! Enjoy , Safe Rides and watch out for them cyclists in tights thinking there on lance armstrong team ! NOT !!! Lol Enjoy ~~~~~ Ride Safe and Have fun ~~~~
As a rural guy from New Hampshire, I found this trail over-rated. It is long and paved, which are great attributes. However, it is not really very scenic (lots of baseball diamonds, industrial stuff, and back yards) although the trees are nice. Very crowded with bicyclists and pedestrians. The bicyclists are mostly considerate, but some are going quite fast and not warning people when they are passing them from behind. The real hazard is the pedestrians, however, many of whom are walking four abreast and have dogs which like to lung over the center line just as bicyclists are passing. As this is a BIKE trail, I think pedestrians ought to be prohibited from it in the interest of safety.
I ride this trail often with my bike in the good weather. Simply put, it's great, flat, scenic, long enough for a work-out. I usually start in Bedford and ride to Arlington Ctr. In Arlington Ctr there are tons of restaurants to choose from to eat. In the summer months I always get ice cream and then ride back. Bedford to Arl. Ctr is about 8.5 miles one way. I am a bike organizer with my meetup group so we always have a great time.
Have fun and be safe, some bikers are a bit fast so please keep your ears and eyes open and always wear a helmet!
When I rode this trail I felt like I was part of the battle of lexington and concord. I think going over the interstate was kind of cool too. I also think they did a good job of making the road crossings look so nice and safe.
There is not much that I can add to what other reviews have said. I am not a great fan of paved urban trails but I am a great fan of Rails to Trails and this was a very good urban trail. It was Saturday morning of Mothers Day weekend and I could not believe the amount of traffic on this path. I was on my trusted old Mt bike as I also did the Reformatory Trail and The Bedford Narrow Gauge Trail. I had a great ride as the weather was as good as it gets this time of the year in New England. My only negative was some of the road Bikers ride way to fast for the amount of over all traffic, on the Baltimore Annapolis path they have a posted speed limit and that dose help keep down the speed of some of the hard core Road Riders. If you live in the Greater Boston area make sure that you put this trail on your bucket list. At the old Lexington Train Station they where counting all the traffic, I stopped and asked what kind of count did they expect and was told between 2000 to 2500. So if you go on a sunny weekend day make sure you get an early start.
The path is very well kept and since it was a little cold, almost empty. It was my first time on the path and wish I would have known that the ride back would be into a headwind. I started in Bedford but in hindsight would have parked and started at the other end. Overall it was a great 20 mile ride.
This is a cool trail. I enjoy the exercise and historical information of this area. By chance there was one time when the there was a revival of one of the many battles the Minutemen fought one day when I was riding this spring. If you enjoy history it is fun to stop in Lexington center where this is a store with a lot of historical items.
But back to exercise . . . it is a very good trail. It is paved, very level and is used by many young, experienced bikers, walkers and rollerbladders. If you're looking for a lonely trail with no traffic, this isn't the one. If you're looking for a popular trail with historical landmarks and bikers, walkers and rollerbladders with polite road etiquette, this is a great trail to learn and enjoy.
This trail is aout 11 miles from my house. I never had a chance all these years to go on this trail.
This saturday I decided to bike on the trail. Wow! This is a really good trail.
As it was saturday , the trail was busy. Saw joggers, runners, bikers, walkers, skaters, kids...
Trail is marked where bumpy. I wished my house or my workplace was close more closer to this trail so that I could bike every day. Now wonder this trail was one among the 'Hall of Fame' Trails.
After getting off 95, Loomis is 2.1 miles, not 1.1 miles. Great trail.
I ride this trail from somerville to lexington to get to work m-f and i really enjoy it...i plan to ride during fall and winter too...does anyone know how well the trail is freed of snow during winter months...? also, if there is anyone out there who would like to ride from somerville to lexington let me know. I usually get on the road by 5:30 AM...
The trail stops on South Rd in Bedford. I have found tracks miles away from this point that should be a continuation of the trail.
This trail cuts through the main downtown of Arlington and you have to cross two streets of busy traffic.
"A great ride - nice and shady, well maintained. "
"I would rate this trail as being somewhat overrated; overcrowded, overused, underserviced, and did I say overcrowded? I recommend cycling the trail west towards Concord, having lunch there, and then returning via either the streets or through the Minuteman Park's rather nice, ambling trail (which is the road trace followed by the British).
Also, NO bike shop anywhere around is open before 12 on Sundays. People were lined up for services; not good."
"This trail has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best paved rail trails in the region, with few major road crossings and excellent trail markings.
Of course, it has become VERY popular for walking, riding blading, and even commuting.
However, even the best resources need to be maintained, and certain sections of the Minuteman need a little pavement TLC.
For road bikers in particular, there are numerous pavement sinks and bumps, caused by settling and expanding tree roots.
Many of these tree root ""bulges"" cross the entire width of the path, so they can't easily be avoided.
These hazards can be dangerous if you don't see them ahead of time, and very uncomfortable regardless.
Enjoy the trail, but let's be careful out there!"
"The Minuteman Bikeway is a excellent example of how an abandoned railroad right-of-way located in a heavily populated urban area can be given a new life -- one that facilitates use of alternative transportation modes for commuting purposes. I was fortunate enough to experience all the Bikeway has of offer by bicycling round trip from Bedford to Arlington on a recent cool and damp autumn morning.
What I liked: 1) wide surface, well maintained pavement; 2) painted dividing lines down center of pavement along most of route; 3) all street crossings engineered with safety in mind - some even have traffic lights that can be activated by trail users; 4) trail passes right through the center of several municipalities; 5) tasteful landscaping; 6) bike racks & park benches at appropriate intervals along route; 7) historical makers strategically stationed along route.
What I didn’t like: 1) no mile markers/location indicators; 2) no emergency call boxes; 3) not enough portable rest rooms along route.
If you live in the Boston area and haven’t visited the Minuteman Bikeway yet, what are you waiting for? And, if you live anywhere else and plan to visit Boston, don’t forget to bring you bike; you’ll be glad you did."
"Please note that the Minuteman Bikeway has been completely repaved in Arlington, Mass. This was the bumpiest stretch of the bikeway - but it's now better than ever!
- Jack Johnson, chairman, Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee"
"From the Bedford side, the trail pavement is a bit rough and every so often has cobblestones that cross in your path. A bit hilly also in places. A good ride. Doesn't feel like 11 miles though."
The Minuteman Bikeway needs work. Roots have taken over the trail and it is difficult to inline skate on the path. The repair that has been done felt like they paved the trail by hand. It is rough and unsafe. This is a wonderful trail if kept up. The Cape Cod Rail Trail is upgrading its trail and I would guess the neighborhoods along the Minuteman Bikeway have more money then the Cape.
"The trail seems to end at a bike shop in Bedford.
But from there, you can continue on if you know where to look. Two options are old railroad ways. Option 1: turn right and go around the corner onto Loomis St. About 50 yds along is a pizza place on the left. Just beyond the pizza place is another bikeway. The bikeway starts out paved, but turns to packed dirt. It leads north to Billerica.
Option 2: cross the street and follow Railroad Ave about 1/4 mi. You'll come to a hard right turn with a parking lot ahead. A nice dirt trail begins through the parking lot.
The trail leads west to Concord.
"My daughter rode with me, from Hartwell Ave at 128 to the baseball field on the other side of Alewife T and back, 20+ miles round trip. It was her second day on a bike without training wheels, not bad for an 8 yr old with diabetes. Nice ride, flat paved surface, plenty of shade, and lots of places to stop for a energy bar, or ice cream. "
"This is THE place in metro Boston for inline skating. It is also a wonderful place for children to bicycle, especially once they no longer need training wheels. My 6 year old has bicycled almost 8 miles on this trail without any help - and the kids regularly ask me to take them there.
This is a first class, well maintained, well utilized trail. If you want to convince someone that a railtrail is a good idea, take them HERE.
Typical trail traffic is joggers, bicycles, inline skaters, walkers."
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