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The Northern Strand Community Trail is part of the visionary and almost-complete Bike to the Sea plan to link Boston and the Mystic River to the seashore in Lynn, north of Boston. It currently runs through the cities of Everett, Malden, Revere, and the town of Saugus and provides a variety of experiences. The Saugus Branch Railroad started passenger service in 1853, and some freight moved on it until all operations stopped in 1993.
Beginning at the southern endpoint in Everett, you’ll soon see signs of the revitalization that is sweeping through both Everett and Malden. Many new high-end residential and commercial buildings, as well as adjacent parks, are under construction next to the trail. A few new brewpubs are located a few blocks off the trail in Everett, which some locals refer to as the fermentation district. Local planners and community leaders are doing an impressive job of integrating the rail-trail into this new development, providing opportunities for many lifestyles and business pursuits. Like most communities in the Boston area, drivers are courteous when approaching marked crossings, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
In about 1 mile, you’ll reach Malden, where the smells from an adjacent bakery and coffee plant come as a wonderful surprise. Notice the well-cared-for community gardens featuring vegetables that reflect the neighborhood’s diversity. Another mile farther on the left, you can visit America’s largest model train store, which features an operating display on the second floor. At this point, you can see how several restaurants are reorienting themselves by constructing decks and extensions to the trail.
Also notice the gas pipeline markings on the asphalt trail. Many rail-trails do double or triple duty as they share space with utilities. At MA 60 and Beach Street—1.5 miles from the train store—you can choose from several doughnut shops. This area also has lots of free trailside parking. A few more minutes after passing US 1, the trail opens wide to the Pines River Marshes, part of the Rumney Marsh Reservation in Saugus.
A tree canopy closes in after this, and backyards are adjacent to the rail-trail. You can’t miss the collection of ever-blooming plastic flowers that one neighbor on the left has planted up to the trail’s edge. This part of the trail passes Anna Parker Playground on the left, where you can enjoy a treat from the farmers market on Tuesdays in the summer. The trail isn’t only for summer riders, however; trail users have also been known to enjoy snowshoeing and dogsledding along the path.
With 2 miles to go until the northern endpoint, the trail crosses Essex Street at the Saugus Fire Department before taking you over Fiske Brook. In 0.3 mile from the brook, you’ll pass the sports fields of Belmonte Saugus Middle School on your right and Douglas Waybright Elementary School in another 0.3 mile to your left. Once you approach Riverside Cemetery to your right, note that the last mile has occasional pea-size stone and old asphalt that should pose no problem for a hybrid bicycle. Here, you can even see and feel a bit of the railroad’s history, since the old surfacing has settled a bit. White birch trees line the corridor intermittently, and an osprey nest is close by as you cross over the Saugus River.
The trip ends at the Saugus–Lynn border at Marshview Park. Note that there is limited parking at this end, with only enough room for a few cars. Looking at the marshes, trail users will see an informal footpath to the left that one day will be the completed trail to Lynn. Here, you can walk out and enjoy the marsh. Toward downtown Lynn following the Saugus River, the path is publicly owned and passable for 0.5 mile, but construction ends 0.5 mile from downtown Lynn.
To reach parking near the southern trailhead in Everett from I-93 N, take Exit 29 for MA 28/MA 38, and head north on MA 28. In 1.2 miles at the traffic circle, take the fourth exit to Main St. and head northwest on Main St. toward Carter St. Go 1 mile, then turn left onto Woodville St. In 0.3 mile, parking is available at the Madeline English School, just after you pass Bell Rock St. and Woodville St. becomes Tremont St. After parking, with the school behind you, continue south on Tremont St. to Floyd St. At this point, access to the trail is on your right. Going south will take you 0.8 mile to the trailhead on Wellington Ave., whereas going north will take you to the northern endpoint in Lynn, 6.8 miles away.
To reach the northern trailhead at Marshview Park in Lynn from US 1, take the exit toward Main St./Saugus near mile 56, and follow Main St. E 0.75 mile, until it becomes Hamilton St. In another 1.2 miles, the road ends at Boston St. Marshview Park is to the right across the street.
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