Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area Trail


10 Reviews

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Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area Trail Facts

States: Massachusetts
Counties: Essex
Length: 3.4 miles
Trail end points: I-95 (no access) and Newburyport MBTA Station
Trail surfaces: Dirt, Gravel, Sand
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 7758741

Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area Trail Description

The rail-trail through the Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area begins at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail station near downtown Newburyport, a coastal Massachusetts city northeast of Boston. On the other side of the train station, north of Parker Street, a connection can be made to the Clipper City Rail Trail that heads north to the Merrimack River.

The unpaved route was once used for a trolley line and now serves as a utility corridor. Heading west from the station, the trail crosses Little River, then Highfield Road, before entering the heavily wooded 1,555-acre wildlife area. On its western end, it passes two wide trails that lead out towards Orchard Street in Newbury. The trail then ends just before Interstate 95; you’ll know its approach from the distant hum of traffic. The experience on the rail-trail is a quiet one; keep your eyes open for deer, fox, beaver, and many types of birds.

Parking and Trail Access

Eastern Trailhead:

From US 1: Head west on Parker Street from the traffic light near Newburyport Center. Take a left on Boston Way. The trail leaves from the southeast end of the parking lot of the Newburyport MBTA Station (25 Boston Way, Newburyport).

From I-95: Take Exit 57 and head east on MA 113. At the traffic light near Port Plaza, take a right onto Low Street. Then, before reaching US 1, take a left onto Graf Road. From Graf Road, take a left onto Parker Street, then a right onto Boston Way. The trail leaves from the southeast end of the of the Newburyport MBTA Station parking lot.

Western Trailhead:

From US 1: Take Elm Street east. When you reach the Governors Academy, take a right onto Middle Road. After crossing the Parker River, take a left onto Maple Street. At the end of Maple Street, take a left onto Orchard Street. After passing Austin Fields Lane, take a right onto a dirt road that is the main access point for Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area. Keep diving on this dirt road until it ends at a gate. Low-to-the-ground cars may have to park before the gate. From the gate, take the wide main trail until you reach the rail-trail.

From I-95: Take Exit 55 and head east on Central Street. At the first Y-intersection, take a left onto Orchard Street. Soon afterwards, take a left onto a dirt road that is the main access point for Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area. Keep diving on this dirt road until it ends at a gate. Low-to-the-ground cars may have to park before the gate. From the gate, take the wide main trail until you reach the rail-trail.

Martin H. Burns Wildlife Management Area Trail Reviews

Choose your weapon

Have ridden this several times now in different seasons. Wouldn't attempt or recommend it on a road bike, but it's perfectly comfortable on something more rugged (gravel bike with 35mm+ semi-knobbies).

Mostly crushed stone and cinder, some doubletrack. Tends to get very overgrown at the sides, recent early Winter ride had me picking thistles off my jersey and tights. Several large puddles tend to collect across the entire trail, even in summer. Can easily be linked to the Garrison, Eastern Marsh and Ghost trails with on-road connections.

Not Ready for Road Biking

I managed to get thru the I-95 to Newburyport section with great difficulty on a road bike, but would never do that again. About seven major puddles/ponds about 10-20 ft long. Most were 8-10inches but one was 2ft deep in the middle and I had to wade thru the water, not way to go around. Most others you can walk around at the edge with the bike steadying you, rolling thru the water. Late afternoon in August, the wife and I were attacked by hundreds of mosquitos, pretty miserable. As others have said, gravel/sand is bad in some spots where tires sink and you must walk. About 75% you can ride on a road bike at jogging speed. Would not recommend except for very dry weather or hardy mountain biker. I'll wait until the bridges are built.

Trail has degraded for cyclists

The portion of the trial from I-95 to Hayfield St has substantially degraded for cyclists. A small portion of trail floods for a good portion of the summer (thank you beavers!). The flooded portions can be walked around.

New in 2020 are sand and rock obstructions in which your tires sink and it is impossible to continue pedaling without walking a bit. Maintenance on this trail is sufficient for vehicles, walkers and the utilities, but my mountain-style bike struggles.

It is an interesting trail otherwise in the middle of know-where. Pity.

Cycling from Highfield Rd. to Newburyport Railroad Terminal

I use the segment from Highfield Road to the train terminal a lot, on a road bike. It has a power line above it.

It's cinders. The surface is mostly good, with a couple of spots of loose sand. Vegetation is gradually reclaiming the old railroad bed.

TREACHEROUS in heavy rain. Deep puddles. Be careful!



Gravel and deep ruts.

Newburyport rail TrailLink

The trail head is behind the parking sign but hasn't any marker. Great with my fat boy tires. Some muddy spots but could easily skirt them. Hunters about but couldn't see anything for them to shoot. The only signs that indicate it is a wildlife refuge were at the opposite end from the train station. I'd do it so.

Great, Scenic Trail

I have biked this trail multiple times. The do not enter and exit signs noted in earlier reviews are for when the trail is opened to motorized traffic during hunting season. Pedestrians and riders can ignore the signs. The trail surface is not good for a road bike, but can be easily ridden on a hybrid or mountain bike. The trail passes through scenic areas including the Little River and multiple beaver ponds. This is a great trail who wants to ride a trail that doesn't pass through developed areas; the trail doesn't pass any houses in its entire length.

Powerline trail

typical cleared hard gravel trail you find on most powerline access roads. I was a bit confused though as I headed south across highland road as barricade does say Do Not Enter. Of course I entered anyway. About 3/4 the way towards I-95, I did figure I was lost and traversed through an overgrown single-track path back to Scotland Rd. Quite varsity, but beautiful. Marked by an Exit sign aside the power-line trail for some reason. Bring your GPS, you wont regret it

Ok but probably would not do it again

We biked the portion of this trail from Highfields Rd. to the commuter rail station as part of a longer ride on trails in the area. We could not find the trailhead at the station so we started at Highfields Rd. and then went to the station. The surface was pretty decent for being gravel; it was not too hard on our hybrid bikes. The crossing of the Little River is very pretty. Otherwise the trail is not especially scenic and in August it is pretty overgrown to the sides and even somewhat in the middle so it is only a narrow path you can take. There were no signs anywhere that we saw. If I didn't know this was a trail i would have thought I was trespassing because there is a gate on both sides of Highfields Rd. with a sign saying "Do Not Enter" and hardly enough room to get your bike past (we were able to push our bikes under the gate instead of to the side). If you look at Google Maps it shows you the exact location the trail starts from the commuter rail parking lot and it IS accurate, you just can't see it unless you get on foot and walk around carefully because it is so narrow and overgrown and we expected a sign. We didn't try the part south of Highfields Rd. because it looked even rougher, more overgrown, and less scenic than the part we did.

well hidden

Couldn't find the trail head!! No signs that we could see in any of the parking lots...

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