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Opened in 1999, the Phoenix Bike Trail packs a surprising diversity in its 3.5 miles, passing through woodlands, salt marshes, farms and commercial and residential areas. Tree-lined for much of its length, the rail-trail provides plenty of shade for a pleasant ride on hot, sunny days. Schoolchildren named the trail after nearby Fort Phoenix, within sight of which the first naval battle of the American Revolution was fought in 1775.
The trail begins in historic downtown Fairhaven across from the old ferry terminal, where steamship passengers embarked for New Bedford before the bridge was built. The trail follows the path of the Fairhaven Branch Railroad, built in 1854, which stemmed off of the Cape Cod Branch Railroad. The Phoenix Bike Trail is the first section of a larger regional trail network that will eventually stretch from the Cape Cod Canal to Rhode Island.
The first half of the trail leads through Fairhaven's pleasant residential neighborhoods. Soon after setting out, you'll pass areas under redevelopment, including the site of the old Atlas Tack Company. The rail-trail's only major road crossing is the intersection with Route 240. From this point, the trail takes you through less populated areas, past farms with cornfields, and an outstanding vista of a salt marsh—a great place to spot birds and other wildlife. There, at approximately the halfway point on the trail, you'll note a short marked spur trail called the Little Bay Loop Trail that takes off to the right. If you want to extend your ride, you can take the spur 1 mile to Buzzards Bay. At the junction of the spur trail, a kiosk displays a map of the trail and local area.
Beyond Shaw Road, the trail continues to Mattapoisett Harbor as the Mattapoisett Rail Trail.
To reach the Fairhaven trailhead from Interstate 195, take Exit 18 and follow State Route 240 south to US 6 west. Follow signs to Fairhaven Center via Washington Street. Follow Washington Street east until you reach Main Street, turn left and continue a few blocks to the trailhead at the Ferry Street intersection.
You can also hop on the trail from Reservation Road where the Mattapoisett Rail Trail currently begins.
This was a good ride with a hidden surprise at the end. In Mattapoisett there is an off road section through the woods. This section was rocky and only dirt but was my favorite part. There is a bridge not far from the paved road where the wildlife show was amazing. The Osprey were catching fish the whole time I was there. There were many other types of birds and animals also along the ride. It was a fun time.
Beautiful scenery, very nice trail. It does have a few hills and does cross many streets, but otherwise a great ride!
There is no public parking at Reservation Road. and the route from there to Mattapoisett Neck Road is a packed dirt track - not for road bikes There is a small pull off area at Brandt Island Road. Completion of this extension is scheduled in 2015-16
Mattapoisett extension of Phoenix MUP
The trail is currently split into two phases: Phase 1 will start at the Fairhaven town line (where the Phoenix Bike Trail ends) and will end at Depot Street, Mattapoisett—thus linking Fairhaven center to Mattapoisett village. Phase 2 will then connect Mattapoisett Village from Depot Street to the Marion town line. At that point, the planned Marion bike path (acquisition authorized at Marion's Spring 2003 Town Meeting) will complete the link from Mattapoisett village to Marion village.
Most of the trail uses the Old Colony Railroad Right of Way (RoW), except for (1) a planned reroute around the YMCA facility. (2) a two-block portion between Depot St. and Acushnet Rd., allowing the route to safely cross Route 6 at the Main Street traffic lights, and (3) a curve to avoid Rt. 195 and instead link to the North St. park & ride lot.
As is this first week of September 2007, the first section is very much in use. The hard packed dirt is suitable for bikes with tires of 28mm or wider, and walking the trail is not a problem at all. The local newpaper has an article here
A tree canopy covers most of the trail keeping the user shaded and sheltered from any wind. However the trail does open to spectacular scenery of the west side of Mattapoisett Harbor. And abundance of water fowl, and saltmarsh can be viewed from the old wooden bridge near Camp Massasoit.
A walk or bike off the paved path is very much worth the minimal effort needed to travel the MUP (multi use path), from the Fairhaven town line to the Resevation Golf Course.
"The Phoenix trail is a flat easy 4 mile paved ride. There are a couple view that are artists' and photographers' dreams.
At the 2.3 mark the view from a well placed bench offers a stunning view of the salt-marshs of the tidal basin and the bay. Many creatures of the wild, (fox, deer etc.), have been spotted in the not too distant marsh area.
When one crests the easy hill at the 2.5 mile, a rider can either cross Gillette Rd. and continue through the tree lined path, or take a right off the path onto the very quiet Rd. Here one seems to be transported back in time. Two old farms line the well worn road offering a glimpse of New England life during the 18th century. After passing the farms a rider/walker will view, to the south, almost a mile of grazing land stretching downhill to the waterfront area that has 15 or so summer homes, built on 25 foot stilts, at the high tide mark.
The road circles past more unused farmland back to the path. A user can either go left back to the start of the path or right which takes them the last couple of hundred feet of the developed trail. A skinny tire road bike is not advisable from here on. However if you are walking or riding with more durable tires, continuing will be worth your time. (This section is due to be developed and paved soon.)
Another two miles or so of hard packed dirt will reward you with a smooth tree canopied ride, culminating with a spectacular view of Mattapoisett's saltmarshes that you can enjoy from a wooden narrow 15' bridge over the slow moving waters of the Mattapoisett River.
Upon returning be sure to take in the newly developed Little Bay section located at the DPW. This area was opened to the public in the fall of 2004. Winding through the dense foliage, the path leads to the shore of the bay. Here one can stop to relax and take in the sights and clean ocean smells provided by the bay. An abundance of water fowl and unusual birds add to the effect.
Do not hesitate to venture onto the quaint towns quiet streets. Fairhaven is a bike friendly New England town with an abundance of history, unusual architecture and eclectic dining and shops. Stop by the visitors center located a mere two blocks from the parking area on Center Street for information about the town. You won't regret it. "
"The Fairhaven bikepath is a great place to roller blade, skateboard, bike riding, or just go for a walk. It's a 4 mile walk if you want to go the whole rout.
This bikepath is actually in my back yard. If you like walking or getting exercise this is a wonderful place to go. I would recommend the Phoenix Bikepath because it's just about the best place you can go! "
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