The regions north and west of Boston offer a rich array of options for mountain bikers of all abilities. Here are several of our favorite locales.
Note: All photos taken at Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield. Next
Lynn Woods Reservation
Lynn Woods became an early stop on the New England race circuit, but the reservation's 2,200 acres also feature wide, beginner-friendly paths. As a bonus, there are also terrific views of the Boston skyline. Next
Middlesex Fells Reservation, Stoneham
Middlesex Fells is a spectacular 2,575-acre spread with sections in Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester. While there is some confusion about what single-track areas are off-limits, most of the casual terrain is open to the fat-tire set. Next
Harold Parker State Forest, North Andover
Enormous numbers of hardwoods, including oak, maple and birch, make Harold Parker a popular destination during foliage season. But, in truth, it offers great riding year round. Next
Maudslay State Park, Newburyport
This park features beautifully maintained 19th-century gardens, rolling meadows, stately pines, and a riot of flowers. While smaller than some other riding areas (it's about 500 acres), maudslay is a gem. Next
Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich
These tremendous twin parcels, divided by a ribbon of asphalt (Ipswich and Topsfield roads) and the Ipswich River, continue to evolve. Intrepid trail builders have created a dreamy patchwork of single-track ranging from smooth to scintillating. However, both parcels also feature gentle, wide double-track trails that give beginners a chance to get their confidence. Next
Ravenswood Park, Gloucester
At Ravenswood, a collection of more than three dozen stones exhorts visitors with such maxims as COURAGE, KEEP OUT OF DEBT, and NEVER TRY, NEVER WIN. But much of the terrain here can be tricky, and requires self-assured bike-handling skills. Next
West awaits you
The paths along the west of Boston can be both urban and rural. For an urban experience, our bike columnistJonathan Simmons(pictured above) suggests the Dr. Paul Dudley White Charles River Bike Path, as well as the Charles River Greenway that goes into Waltham. The Minuteman Bikeway that starts in Cambridge and rides through Belmont, Arlington, and Lexington is a great for cyclists. But for a more off-the road experience, keep reading.
The Reformatory Branch Trail begins in Bedford and will take for a ride through forest, across farmland, near marshland, and across Hartwell Road, Concord Road (Route 62), and Monument Street, until you eventually reach Lowell Road, which will take you into Concord Center.
The Cutler Park in Newton, Needham and Dedham, which has about 700 acres of conservation land and a wonderful loop trail that is open to mountain bikes from April 15 to Dec. 31. This route is challenging, with sharp switchbacks, rough trails, and some intermediate technical sections.
Cutler Park is also the beginning of several loops that roll through Needham, Medfield, Natick, and Sherborn. Check out the Charles River Wheelmen group’s website for directions.
Once you get past Route 128, you’re in biker heaven. You will pass apple orchards, corn fields, horses, llamas, goats, chickens, and wild turkeys.
“A few years ago I had to stop as 20 horses galloped across the road. I have also seen foxes and deer and even a coyote out here,” writes Simmons. “So why not clean off your bike and head out for a ride? There’s a whole world waiting out there for you to enjoy.” Back to the beginning
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