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The Southwest Corridor Park (Pierre Lallement Bike Path) knits together neighborhoods in southern Boston from the Back Bay to Jamaica Plain. Popular as a route for commuters as well as casual walkers, runners, and cyclists, the 52-acre linear park passes skyscrapers, established residential areas, and community gardens.
The green space through the dense urban environment is a testament to residents who vociferously protested the bulldozing of their neighborhoods in the 1960s to make way for a 12-lane expressway. In the end, Governor Francis Sargent in 1969 discarded the highway plans for the razed corridor in favor of a 4.1-mile-long park featuring mass transit, open space, and recreation facilities.
Today, the Southwest Corridor Park parallels the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Orange Line, roughly following the old route of the Boston Elevated Railway built to Forest Hills in 1908. The Orange Line opened in 1987, and the city dedicated the park in 1990.
Along its length, the Southwest Corridor Park contains community gar-dens (maintained by Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy), playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, spray pools, and trails, including a 4.1-mile bike path named for Pierre Lallement, credited as the inventor of the pedal bicycle in the 1860s. In some places, adjacent paths separate bicyclists and pedestrians.
The northern trailhead begins across from the south entrance of the Back Bay T station on Dartmouth Street, only blocks from Copley Square, the Bos-ton Public Library, and commercial Newbury Street. The trail winds its way between small residential South End side streets lined with historical brown-stones. This skillfully designed section includes dog parks, playgrounds, neighborhood vegetable gardens, and basketball and tennis courts.
As the trail crosses West Newton Street, you can see the Prudential Center and John Hancock buildings, landmarks on the Boston skyline. Symphony Hall, home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is a couple blocks north of the Massachusetts Avenue crossing as you enter Northeastern University’s urban campus. Approaching the college’s tennis courts, turn left and then right to remain on the path as it parallels Columbus Avenue for a short stretch to Ruggles Station, where you’ll cross the 2-mile South Bay Harbor Trail. Scattered along the corridor are more tennis courts, basketball courts, spray pools, street hockey rinks, and amphitheaters.
The path continues along Columbus Avenue, then cuts behind Jackson Square Station, where murals line the corridor to Centre Street. You’re never far from groceries and sandwich shops if you’re hungry.
The trail ends just across Washington Street from Forest Hills Station, though you can extend your walk or ride into Arnold Arboretum, across South Street to the north of the station. The arboretum is part of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, a 1,100-acre chain of parks conceived in the 1870s for Boston and Brookline. It offers an alternate walking or bike route back downtown.
The northern trailhead is at the Back Bay T station on Dartmouth St., reachable on the Orange Line. To reach the trailhead from I-93, take Exit 18 toward Massachusetts Ave./Roxbury Frontage Road. From the exit ramp, head west on the Massachusetts Ave. Connector. In 0.3 mile turn right onto Massachusetts Ave., and go 1 mile. Turn right onto Avenue of the Arts/Huntington Ave., and go 0.5 mile, where the road becomes Stuart St. Turn right onto Dartmouth St. The trailhead is between MA 28/Columbus Ave. and Stuart St. Look for parking in the area.
The southern trailhead is at Forest Hills T station, also on the Orange Line. To reach the southern trailhead in Jamaica Plain from I-93, take Exit 2B toward MA 138/Milton. Go 1.1 miles north and veer right onto Canton Ave. Go 2.2 miles and turn left onto Blue Hills Pkwy. Go 2.7 miles and turn left onto MA 203/Morton St./Arborway. Go 1.8 miles and look for the trail on your right immediately after Washington St. Turn left onto Washington St. to find the Forest Hills T station parking.
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