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The Clipper City Rail Trail is part of the Coastal Trails Coalition, which is developing in the four towns of Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury along the Merrimack River and will eventually be a link in the 28-mile Border to Boston Trail.
While delivering wonderful views of the Merrimack River, the trail is set apart by its trailside art. More than a dozen sculptures, ranging from figurative to abstract to interactive art for children and families, are installed along the Clipper City Rail Trail. The sculptures serve as visual focal points that enhance this unique public space and draw people along the trail. The murals, custom planters, garden installations, custom signage, boardwalk, pedestrian bridge, and other functional elements are all designed with a special touch.
When complete, the Clipper City Rail Trail will be a full loop. At present, 3.9 miles of the loop are complete, starting at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Newburyport Station and ending at Parker Street at the base of the Oak Hill Cemetery. If you are a confident road cyclist, however, you can travel the last 0.5 mile on-road to complete the loop.
There is no parking at the Parker Street endpoint adjacent to Oak Hill Cemetery, so it is recommended that you either start at Newburyport Station or from the center of Newburyport, as you are only six blocks from the trail in either direction. (Note that the Newburyport Station parking lot charges a daily fee.)
If arriving by MBTA train, your adventure starts immediately upon debarking because the route starts at the station platform. On the other side of Newburyport Station is the trailhead for the 3.4-mile trail within the Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area. This rail-trail, while more isolated and primitive, is an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Once you descend the platform’s northern ramp, you immediately will see large and unique outdoor sculptures along its wider greenway. The compelling use of wood, steel, and glass captures the flora, fauna, and heritage of the river corridor. Steam Loco, a play locomotive train, is a particular favorite for children and families. In 1.5 miles, you’ll come to the Merrimack River, where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the active shoreline and Gillis Bridge, which takes US 1 over the river.
If you would like to add a diversion and cross the river, the 0.3-mile paved Salisbury Rail Trail Connector will take you safely under US 1 to the north bank of the Merrimack River, providing panoramic views of the harbor, marinas, and Newburyport riverfront. If biking, make sure to walk your bike on the bridge sidewalk. Immediately across the river, you will hit the 1.4-mile paved Old Eastern Marsh Trail, which features excellent interpretation and bird-watching.
If you aren’t taking the side excursion, you can turn left once you reach Merrimack River to reach Cashman Park in less than 0.5 mile. The park offers tennis and basketball courts, a playground, a boat ramp, and other amenities. Otherwise, head east from the Gillis Bridge and continue along the Merrimack River; the portion of the trail along the river is known as the Harborwalk.
After passing through some boatyards, you’ll come to Waterfront Park. If biking, make sure to walk your bike along the boardwalk promenade until the asphalt continues. You are now in the recently completed Phase II of the Clipper City Rail Trail project. Throughout this section of construction, planners and designers continued using superior materials and innovative solutions, including the High Street underpass. After this short tunnel, the next 0.5 mile is set in a very different landscape—wooded and serene. The trail ends at Parker Street. Take care on this road and the traffic circle if you choose to head back to Newburyport Station to complete the loop.
Parking is available at Cashman Park (5 Pop Crowley Way) along the waterfront. To reach it from I-95, take Exit 57 for MA 113. Head northeast on MA 113 E/Storey Ave. Stay on MA 113 for 1.7 miles to a left turn on Broad St. Continue on Broad St. 0.3 mile to a right turn on Merrimac St., followed by an immediate left, which will take you directly into the park’s parking lot.
Paid MBTA parking lots are located off of Parker St. at the head of the trail. To reach the MBTA Newburyport Station endpoint, take I-95 to Exit 56, and head east on Scotland Road. In 2 miles continue onto Parker St., and go another 0.6 mile. Turn right to stay on Parker St., and go 0.4 mile. Turn right onto US 1 and follow signs 0.1 mile to the MBTA station. Once at the station, go up onto the main station’s ramp and platform and follow it to the end, where it becomes the trail.
There is no parking available at the trailhead near Hines Way.
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