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Walkers and bicyclists alike enjoy Upper Charles Trail, a popular rail-trail crossing through small towns. Traveling the entirety of the trail puts users on varying trail surfaces, mostly packed cinder or asphalt—with both surfaces suitable for all bikes. While the route continues to be extended in length by local communities, the sections of trail approaching new endpoints may not have smooth surfaces.
Beginning in Holliston near Blair Square, the trail travels both north and south. The northern section of trail can be traversed to MA 16, a 1.3-mile distance, and will one day also extend another 1.5 miles beyond MA 16 (that section is currently very rough). For now, we recommend heading south from Blair Square, where the bulk of the trail continues.
The southern section of trail is completed and well maintained, heading out atop a packed cinder surface. Heading south on the trail, users will approach the historical Phipps Tunnel in about 1 mile. This tunnel was constructed to allow steam trains to travel under Highland Street—the design of the tunnel, with its curved walls, is quite unique. Throughout this stretch, it is clear how much the local community takes pride in the trail, from the clean and well-maintained surface to the installation of trailside art.
In another 2.8 miles, the path crosses South Street. About 5 miles into the trail, the surface transitions to asphalt, providing an opportunity for in-line skaters to also enjoy the trail. At this point, the path goes under the I-495/Blue Star Memorial Highway overpass. Several parking areas exist along the trail, providing opportunities for walkers, bicyclists, and skaters to enter the trail on either cinder or asphalt surface. Continuing another 1.6 miles puts users into the heart of Milford, where the trail makes several sharp bends before splitting at Fino Field (a municipal park facility maintained by the town of Milford). Bathrooms and parking are available here.
From Fino Field, you can turn left to go south about 0.2 mile before the trail stops, or turn right to head north, following the trail to its Hopkinton–Milford endpoint in 3.6 miles. Traveling north from this point provides trail users great opportunities to view wildlife in the adjacent forests and bogs, as well as alongside Milford Pond to the right and Louisa Lake Park to the left (0.9 mile from Fino Field). This stretch of trail includes several well-marked road crossings, designed for bicycle and pedestrian crossing. From Louisa Lake Park, the trail continues about 3 miles to public parking along Cedar Street in Milford.
To reach the eastern trailhead parking lot in Holliston from I-495, take Exit 19 for MA 109 toward Milford/Medway. Head east on MA 109 E/Medway Road. Go 0.5 mile, then turn left onto Clark St., which becomes South St. In 1.8 miles, turn right onto MA 16 E, and go 3 miles. Turn right onto Central St. in Holliston. Here, parking is available at Blair Square off Front St. and in a municipal parking lot off Exchange St.
To reach parking at Fino Field in Milford from I-495, take Exit 20 for MA 85 toward Milford/Hopkinton. Head south on MA 85 S/Cedar St. In 0.4 mile, turn right onto Dilla St. In 0.9 mile, turn left onto Sumner St. Fino Field will come up in 0.7 mile on the left. Parking is available off Granite St.
To reach parking at Louisa Lake Park in Milford from I-495, take Exit 20 for MA 85 toward Milford/Hopkinton. Head south on MA 85 S/Cedar St. In 0.2 mile, turn right onto Dilla St. Parking is available in 0.5 mile at Louisa Lake Park off Dilla St.
To reach the western trailhead parking lot in Hopkinton–Milford from I-495, take Exit 20 for MA 85 toward Milford/Hopkinton. Head north on MA 85 N/Cedar St. In 1.5 miles, just after passing Jacob Lane to your left, turn right off MA 85 N/Cedar St. A large parking lot is located here on Cedar St. at the Hopkinton town line.
Today was the fourth time I walked this trail from holliston walked 2.5 miles and back.
Very easy walking the packed stone and dust pavement. I walk the Henry Hudson trail in NJ nearly every day 5 miles and both these trails provide some of the most interesting sites.
When visiting my family here this provides me a great walk. Wonderful
Rode the trail this morning (a Wednesday). Very light and friendly walkers with few bikers. Trail is in very good condition -- both the gravel portion in Holliston and the paved portion in Milford. Plenty of benches to pull over and rest if you want...but the trail is about as flat as you get so the riding is easy. Will return many times.
The improved section of the trail has been extended further at the Holliston end. There is now an nice packed stone dust surface starting across the street from the Sam Placentino school in Holliston and running all the way to the paved portion that starts at the Milford town line.
Start is still at Holliston, where the trail is hard pack and gravel in places. It changes to tarmac at the Milford town line. It is not road bike friendly until you get to the town line.
The scenery is really nice and the only interruption to this is when you reach route 495. The section from Milford north us a beautiful ride. Really enjoyable and suitable for all bikes. The latter section is fully paved, about 3.5 miles one way.
A great rail trail.
My wife and I are in our mid-60's and enjoy bike-trail rides that are about 25 miles roundtrip. We recommend this trail!
I use the trail from Sherborn (unfinished but ok with thick soled shoes) and walk towards Milford a couple of times a week. The trails in Holliston from Exchange Street towards Milford are wonderful! With any luck, some donors and workers will get this trail finished! The trail is used extensively and it is a joy to connect with people I normally would not even see! The celebration on the Holliston section first night last December was terrific!
The asphalt part in Milford is really nice. The stone dust in Holliston is good.
It is easy to lose your way when the trail turns at the field, but there is a map posted on a board in the parking lot at Lake Louisa and friendly people at the Milford Bicycle store right near where the trail turns.
Many beautiful areas on the trail. Extraordinarily polite motorists with very cool light systems at some of the intersections. Good parking at the north end.
Brought my black lab to this lovely trail, and I think I enjoyed it more than her. It has a nice paved path, and starts right at the Milford/Hopkinton line. Lots of history, and active almost everyday. No matter which you go you won't get lost. In general, its a hidden diamond and I love that its so close to my house!
I recently tried this trail. I started in Hopkinton and ended in Milford.. trail was ok although there were quite a few major roads to cross ..though did have lights etc... the bad part was just getting to the trail parking in Hopkinton with the heavy afternoon traffic, its a very wooded path... paved..was ok..not very long though...worth a try
This is a beautiful trail, shared by bikers, dog people, runners etc. Everyone is friendly, but many small children weave across the trail unaware that they are in the way and as they are unpredictable, a bit scary. They were accompanied by oblivious parents. Give me dogs any day.
I parked in the Fino Field park, Main St in Milford. This is adjacent to the Commuter Parking lot in Milford, which is a slightly more centrally located spot. I rode both parts of this trail (the Hopkinton part and the Holliston part), starting with the Hopkinton part. It's about 4.5 miles to the northern end, all very beautifully paved, and landscaped. There are a couple of busy street crossings - I found all the drivers to be very polite at the crossings - very welcoming! Northbound, passing Louisa Lake park there are lots of people, so be attentive. From there to the northern end of pavement, the trail is very pretty, rambling through woods, with some historical sights on the way to the northern terminus at a parking lot on what is Rte 85, I think.
I also rode the other section which heads for Holliston. The two section of this trail can be done together, but that requires riding through the busy traffic sections of Milford - OK for experienced cyclists, shouldn't be attempted with inexperienced riders. The roads and signals through Milford are fine however. Again - very polite drivers in the city traffic in Milford! The Holliston section starts in back of Friendly's on Medway Rd, rte 109 about 1/4 mi east of the split with 126. Friendly's has designated a signed parking area (thank you very much!). The trail northbound is actually paved about 2 miles north, and then it is unimproved. I also rode the portion from there to Holliston, varying from muck holes to sections with nice stone dust - not really recommended for road bikes, but fine for a cyclocross or mountain bike, if you are OK with getting dirty. Just slightly south of Holliston there is a magnificent (and short) tunnel definitely worth seeing - the stonework is beautiful
Overall - a nice afternoon - this would be a great ride for the kids, just be careful crossing the roads, although I'm sure the drivers will treat you right. Both sections end to end with the city ride about 9 miles, one way.
April 13, 2013: Did some trail work (with some very nice people) on the Holliston section near the Milford line and in the afternoon rode into Holliston on the unimproved section. There's .9 miles of nice stone dust at South St. (hint of what's coming!), and that turns into cinder, later gravel, some single-track through grass, and finally ballast as you go along. At one point (depending on conditions), you need to hop up on the side onto a single track for about 1/4 mile to get around some significant water (this was April, so...). There's an unimproved bridge over a road not far from the Phipps Tunnel--be careful, you can't just "bomb through" on this trail! The ballast used on this railbed is large, sharp chunks of rock I didn't want to ride my bike on, so I walked from time to time, finishing my ride-walk at the Dopping Brook Water Treatment Plant, returning on-road to South St.
In stark contrast with the paved Milford side, the Holliston section is a work in progress. But don't write it off entirely. The humps in the cinder created by the ATVs are fun, the trail goes through Holliston Conservation Land where there are walking trails, through the Phipps Tunnel (must see!), and over an 8-arch bridge. You can make it from the Milford line to the Phipps Tunnel at Highland St. fairly well, but the 8-arch bridge (for now) is in a ballast section where I did a lot of walking. And because there are no railings on the 8-arch bridge, I recommend walking anyway.
The plan is to clear the trail and put down stone dust, then make it part of a 20+ mile Upper Charles loop with surrounding towns. I think they have a great start and some must-see items like the Phipps Tunnel that will shine as more of the trail is completed. Really looking forward to this in the coming years!
You can access the Upper Charles Trail on South Street in Holliston where is joins up with an unimproved section of the Milford Upper Charles Trail. Although it says the trail ends at Cross Street, you can ride it all the way into downtown Holliston. The surface is everything from smooth cinder to dirt/mud to some pretty rough ballast. There are a couple overpasses that require care, and plenty of moguls that are spaced part enough apart to be fun. The crushed cinder section at South Street can be ridden on almost any bike but after Hopping Brook Industrial park you'll need off road tires and front shocks. About 13 miles round trip. Some of the road crossings are very busy, but you can't lose your way on this trail.
My husband and I packed up our bikes & traveled to the Upper Charles Trail expecting a round trip ride of over 12 miles. It was a lovely trail with great water views, but we were quite surprised that we reached the end (in the Senior Center parking lot - after Dunkin's) so quickly. The return trip has mile markers & we discovered that we had only traveled a bit over three miles (over 6 round trip). Not sure why this trail is marked as an over 6 mile trail. Each end was clearly marked "end of the trail". What did we miss???
We rode this trail on a Saturday morning under the threat of rain. Despite the forecast, there were many people out enjoying this pleasant trail. The trail features interesting water views and some abandoned quarry artifacts. There are numerous benches and pullouts for those wanting to spend time exploring the scenery of the parks through which the trail traverses. We started at the parking area on Main Street and rode up through the Fino Field area to the trail head parking at the north end enjoying views of Milford Pond, Louisa Lake and Wildcat Pond along the way. On our return we took the Senior Center Spur and via the senior center parking lot reached Center Street where we saw the end of active rail and handsome train station. The trail surface is excellent and the signs are very good. We did not do the isolated section of trail east of Route 109. We are from Connecticut and hope to come back and ride this trail again especially if they construct the missing link. I would definatley drive up from Mystic, CT to ride this one a gain!
Rode half the trail last night. I work in downtown Milford, and finally packed the bike to work. It was well worth it. I rode from the Dunkin' Donuts to the highway and then doubled back. This trail is exceptionally well kept. I was surprised that it is suitable for road cyclists. My only obstacles were in downtown Milford itself- I had decided to park in the municipal lot between Central St. and Jefferson St, as that is where I can access my place of employment. Beware, there is much construction in downtown at the moment, and that resulted in my walking the bike the 1/4 mile or so to the trail head. It was so worth it- the trail was beautifully kept. There was traffic on the trail, but not so much that I couldn't keep pace. Other cyclists smiled and waved or nodded. ONE MINOR COMPLAINT: Dear dog people: Because you bought a retractable leash for your dog does not mean that you should give Fido the entire 50 feet of leash to wander. (I had to dodge more than a few retractable leash people.) This trail has a painted center line, and it would really be nice if you could keep yourself and your dog to one side of that line. When we cyclists come up behind you and YELL "On your left!" it means that we intend to pass you on YOUR left side. We (Bicycle people) aren't trying to scare you or be rude, we are just trying to communicate in as few words as possible so as not to disturb the trail. On my ride, I saw runners, walkers, and many young cyclists. I was pleased at how bike friendly this trail really is! All the crossings were super safe- only one car failed to stop. I hope to ride this trail for weeks to come. Thanks to all that shared the trail with me today!
We started at the north end. Biked into downtown Milford. Picked up some snacks at Dunkin Donuts (right at the end of the trail) and returned to the picnic tables at the lake for a picnic. Sports Authority at 495 exit has bike supplies if you need something last minute.
This is a short, flat, paved trail great for young children on bikes, rollerblades or in strollers and for walking your dog. It is accessible from a large parking lot located on Milford's Main Street. The trail passes Fino Field, which has a community pool and ball fields, crosses Dilla Street to a small park on Louisa Lake, and continues on through scenic woodland to an intersection where you can enjoy lunch or an ice cream treat at Wendy's before heading back (trail currently ends right about there). All sorts of wildlife can be seen on or near trail (mostly on the Lousia Lake side); swans, mallards, turkey, heron, baby snapping turtles, garter snakes, turkey vulture, wood chucks, the remains of a beaver dam/activity. The trail can get crowded on sunny weekends. Expect to see lots of dog walkers.
I've walked and biked this trail from Main Street near downtown Milford to Route 495. It is a pretty straight, nicely paved route that runs through a nice water plain before it comes to Louisa Lake across Dilla Street. From here the trail gets very crowded and winds through a hilly area before it comes to Route 495. If you are adventurous and willing to get off the beaten path, there are several side paths. My favorite is a left turn about 3/4 of a mile northeast and up from the Dilla Street parking lot. A bar runs across a dirt path and can be used as marker to find it. If you travel up the path for a 1/4 mile or so you will come to an area that was used as a quarry complete with a water-filled quarry (the water is an unusual green color and quite filthy), old cables and pulleys anchored in the stone that were used by machinery to mine the area and piles and piles of broken stone of all shapes and sizes. This quarry area is a wonderful place to scout around. Overall, the Upper Charles Trail is a pretty good route for families and others hiking or biking.
This is a very nice paved trail. There is a small parking lot at Louise Lake. The trail goes across a few streets. Expect to stop and walk your bike a few times. It is great for the kids. Mostly flat. Very populated.
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