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The Neponset River Greenway is a south Boston jewel, utilizing the best in design and construction standards as it winds through the Neponset River valley, offering a low-stress, high-quality experience.
American Indians used the Neponset (meaning “harvest river”) for fishing and as a fur trading route with settlers arriving in the 1600s. The river played an important role in the development of Milton and Boston, though it was an early obstacle to settlers. There are several well--designed access points to the river if you decide to explore this riparian corridor by kayak or canoe, both excellent choices. If you prefer to run, walk, or skate—or if you have a foldable bike—you can take one of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) trolleys that run along the trail’s southern stretch every few minutes.
Unless you are a very experienced rider who doesn’t mind riding in occasional traffic along the Truman Parkway and sharing rough and narrow sidewalks with pedestrians, we suggest you start your adventure at either the northern trailhead at Tenean Beach or the MBTA Mattapan Station to the south. You can park your car for a small fee at the station. From the station, the northern endpoint of the 2-mile Pine Tree Brook/Popes Pond Path is just 1 mile away.
From the front of Mattapan Station, go to the corner of River Street and MA 28 and look for a restored old transportation building decorated with several murals located next to MA 28. The trailhead is behind this building on a boardwalk suspended along the Neponset River, with the river on your right.
Immediately you will feel the difference from the busy streets adjacent to this tree-lined river valley. In 0.3 mile, you’ll cross a new bridge that takes you over the MBTA tracks. On a sunny day, the reflective colored discs and tree imagery of the fence will reflect onto the bridge’s concrete deck. It’s worth stopping for a bit to take in this creative art, as well as the orange and yellow trolleys zooming underneath as they approach the station’s turnaround point. The bridge has a ramp connecting to another parking lot to the right of the bridge, which makes for an alternate starting point.
The trail’s canopy is very dense in this southern section. The asphalt path connects to adjacent recreation fields and businesses now located in repurposed brick manufacturing buildings along this once busy industrial corridor. The building that housed the first chocolate factory in America—Baker’s Chocolate—opened in 1765 on what is now the trail corridor (it eventually became General Foods Corporation and later Kraft and is now based out of another location). The trail corridor was also home to America’s first commercial railway, the Granite Railway Company, which supplied granite to the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. Many of the retaining walls and underpasses along the corridor feature walls that have been beautifully painted by the Boston Natural Areas Network.
At the halfway point, the trail goes under the MBTA tracks and spills out to the river’s marshes, providing a wonderfully dramatic experience. At this point, it is now considered a rail-with-trail. From here to the end of the route, you might share the trail with some fishermen as you pass through the Neponset River Reservation, which extends from Milton to the Boston Harbor.
The path hugs the Neponset River before passing Joseph Finnegan Park on the right. The city is creating several other adjacent parks like this one, with short trail loops of their own. As Taylor Street comes to an end, turn left onto Water Street for three short blocks on residential streets to the endpoint at Tenean Beach, where you can enjoy views of downtown Boston.
To reach the northern trailhead at Tenean Beach from I-93/MA 3/US 1 S, take Exit 12 for MA 3A S toward Neponset/Quincy. Continue onto MA 3A S/Gallivan Blvd. 0.2 mile. Turn left toward William T. Morrissey Blvd. Continue on William T. Morrissey Blvd. just over 0.4 mile, then turn right onto Conley St., where Tenean Beach (and parking) can be found to your left.
To reach the northern trailhead at Tenean Beach from I-93/MA 3/US 1 N, take Exit 13 toward Freeport St./Dorchester. Turn left onto Victory Road. In a few hundred feet, take another left onto Freeport St., which becomes Tenean St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn left onto Conley St., where Tenean Beach (and parking) can be found to your left in 0.2 mile.
To reach parking at the MBTA Mattapan Station from I-93, take Exit 2B to head north on MA 138 for 4.5 miles toward Milton. Turn slightly left onto Blue Hills Pkwy. Go 0.1 mile. In Mattapan, turn right at the five-way intersection onto River St. at the Mattapan Station, where a parking lot is immediately to the right.
as i live in this area and bike often as possible to reduce my carbon footprint, i like the newponset riverway but i feel its lacking one trail that could be very beneficial, its an unofficial hidden trail running parallel to President golf course that connects Harriet street to Granite street, currently its very rocky and borderline dangerous but im sure its public access road?..? anyway just my 2cents
i had a vision of a foot/bike bridge over to the Newponset river greenway from that unofficial trail would really sweeten the biking commute from east milton to greenway...oh the possibilities
It's a very nice stretch, with 2 bridges, the one over the river being particularly nice.
The gap near Hyde Park is still there, and the trail becomes less interesting at that point, but with one less gap it becomes much more inviting.
We parked (as suggested by another reviewer) at the city park next to the draw bridge off Granite Street. The park is about the mid-point of the bike trail. We biked one way and then the other to do the whole trail. Our granddaughter is 7 yrs old and the trail was just right for her, not to long (5+ miles total) and interesting things to see. Afterwards our granddaughter played in the splash area in the park and we had a picnic lunch at the tables in the shade. There are port-a-potties there too, that are well maintained. We did find that the trail is all paved now, and it was an enjoyable ride.
I tried to use inline skates on the trail with my daughter and there are a few things I would like to note:
-The street parking at the Milton end is limited and has a two hour max.
-After the first mile, the trail becomes packed gravel for a distance until you reach Granite St, then it becomes paved again.
-For rollerbladers,the best thing to do is park in the lot just off Granite St., near the drawbridge. There is no time limit and you can skate to the bay end and back. There is also a loop around a soccer field near the Neponset River Bridge that you can use to add more mileage to your trip.
-The alternative is to park at the bay end and skate to Granite St. and back.
Other than that, it was a nice little trail to skate near the water on a beautiful day!
I rode the trail in August, 2010 for the first time. I thought it was going to be too short for a good ride. I was pleasantly surprised by all the interesting scenery and the beauty of the trail in this area. The trail is paved for all but a short (0.3 mile) section between Granite Ave and the MBTA Red Line overpass. This short section is hard packed and could be ridden by road bicycles. The rail-with-trail section is quite busy, we saw half a dozen MBTA trolleys pass by during our ride. There is only one busy street crossing at Granite Ave, but it is protected by a pedestrian crossing signal. There are additional paved trails in Pope John Paul II Park. Parking was available at Hallett Street, which also serves as the entrance to Pope John Paul II Park where additional parking is available.
The Neponset Trail takes you through an amazing variety of settings: a former chocolate factory, salt marshes, river banks, public parks, etc. It's far less crowded than other bike paths around Boston. Both the people and the wildlife are diverse and friendly. And if you're willing to tough out an unpleasant stretch alongside Morrissey Boulevard, you can extend this path all the way to Castle Island. The Port Norfolk, Tenean Beach, U Mass, Kennedy Library, and Carson Beach stretches are fun (although the sidewalks get a little crowded in Southie on warm summer days). Stop and talk to the fishermen along the Neponset and on the harbor at U Mass.
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