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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.
As mentioned, the section in Saugus is rock not crushed stone. I rode this on a hybrid and luckily didn't get a flat. The trail is not that interesting, goes behind some ugly industrial developments, and crosses too many busy intersections. This is a one and done for me. I could see the value of the trail for commuters/walkers, but this trail held very little interest for me. I started going on a bit through unimproved section that goes into Lynn. I saw some broken glass, thought better of it, and turned around.
The towns of Saugus and Revere used recycle asphalt for their trail surface. It's free but totally unsuitable for skinny tire bikes. With time and weather, large stones have come to the surface making for a very bumpy ride. If you have a mountain bike you'll be fine but with a hybrid or road bike you'll be in for an unpleasant ride.
The previously disjoint segments are now connected. Very nice trail!
We went all the way to Nahant, partly on the future trail, partly on streets. The beach was a reward, but this last stretch is not so much fun on a bicycle.
I live in Swampscott and pick up the unimproved trail in Lynn on Western Ave across the street from McCarthy Glass. It's quite passable from there.
Since I use a mountain bike, the unpaved surface isn't an issue and in summer it's cooler than tar. But it would be much smoother if stone dust was used instead of (or in addition to) gravel.
In Saugus, the trail goes through really beautiful tidal marshes along the Saugus River. It's hard to believe you're in a semi-urban area. In fact that is true of the trail all the way down to the paved section starting in Revere.
The smooth paved section extends from just past scenic Rumney Marsh to the current end in Everett, and is a great safe way to travel off road. I'm looking forward to an extension into Boston.
All in all, a great recreational addition and also a great way to get to the bordering communities and from the North Shore to close to Boston. My deep appreciation to all that have worked on making this trail a reality.
I've used the Malden section of the Northern Strand Community trail many times. Because that trail is nicely paved, I have a fast, safe, and enjoyable ride. And I was super excited to learn that there were a few miles along my route to Marblehead available through Revere and Saugus. I'm riding an older Trek road bike. Yesterday I rode from Malden all the way to the terminus at Lincoln Street in Lynn.
Through Revere and Saugus it's a completely different experience. The surface is packed gravel which is both unpleasant (bumpy) and slow. I won't be using it again. Was anyone who actually rides a bike consulted when the decision was made to pave with packed gravel?
Instead of ‘Rail-to-Trail’ I would offer ‘Gas-Pipeline-to-Trail,’ since most of the trail follows a natural gas pipeline, clearly marked with yellow poles every so often, and signs placed directly on the trail’s surface. I rode east from Somerville to check out this trail, entering via Medford St. I started by going south to the terminus in Everett, then turned around and headed back north. At the time that I rode it, the pavement ended at the Harley Davidson dealership, and the trail continued as dirt where the train rails/ties had been freshly removed as far as the eye could see. This new trail has a very smooth surface, as you would expect, but I wish it was a bit wider. The width was not a big deal when I rode it, since there were not many users (which I was surprised at, since it was beautiful July day). The users that were on it did not seems to follow any particular etiquette (stay to the right, etc.), but there wasn’t a painted center-line, or signs to educate users to this ‘rule.’ The surrounding environment is very urban and industrial, and I enjoyed travelling through an area I would not normally explore on a bike if it wasn’t for the bike trail. There are a few awkward intersections crossing busy streets (should I cross here, or at the nearby intersection?). I was yelled at once “get off the road” from a passing motorist as I was simply riding down a semi-busy street looking for a convenient place to turn around. It has been at least 10 years since the last time I was yelled at in the Boston area by an ‘uninformed’ motorist as I was biking, but I guess there will always be those few. In summary, I am always super excited about a new trail being constructed close to me, increasing the off-street biking opportunities. I think there is definitely room for improvement for this trail, but it is still new, and the users and the community needs time to get used to it. I look forward to rest of the trail being completed, and then riding all the way to the sea!
I just rode the entire trail today. I started off at the beginning in Everett. I rode the trail all the way to its end in Malden. After that I had to ride in the street for about a mile to get to the Saugus portion. The trail from Everett and Malden is surrounded by industry. However, except for passing through Malden Center, there is very little noise. Since it's new, it's incredibly smooth and flat. When I started there was virtually no one on the trail, but by the time I returned, there were some walkers and cyclists. I can see that this will be a great respite for the people of the area who are looking for a little quiet and exercise. The Saugus portion is packed gravel, and it was little rough on my hybrid. However,it mostly passes through wooded backyards and ends by going through a pretty March and terminating at a small park on the Saugus River. It was an interesting and different trail ride.
We did the Saugus portion. Parking was good at Anna Parker Playground.
We were surprised that the path was not paved. It was do-able, even for our kids (7,9,11) with their dirt bikes and mountain bikes, but did result in a couple of spills. The surface is a hard pack to loose packed gravel. It is fairly good and probably a bonus for a mountain bike, but less than ideal on a roadbike. The nice thing was that there were few other users.
That section of the path was probably 3 miles through residential backyards and some marsh. Crosses about 4 roads.
Not ideal, but we'll do it again and we'll look forward to when it is paved and connected to the longer trail.
although we had biked in the area many times we wandered over to the Malden end of this trail last week. it was a nice flat, fairly shady paved trail, but it did cross several one way streets in downtown Malden. of course the proximity to restaurants, and pit stops offers an advantage to Joy riders like us. We would recommend this as a nice quiet riding spot.
Its paved thank you.Work has been slow but its getting there.Mile from home have rode a few times unpaved and paved.Checked out Revere and saugus trail.Revere not done Saugus unpaved.Hope lynn hops on would be nice to ride out to Nahant Beach from Medford.Keep building those trails love them.Thanks TrailLink site and maps are great have used them from NH to DC
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