If you are looking for a great place to explore outdoor beauty while also getting a good workout, the Minuteman Bikeway in Cambridge may be just what you are looking for. Stretching out over 10 miles to Bedford, the Minuteman Bikeway passes through numerous towns while connecting to other bike paths in the area.
The History of the Minuteman Bikeway
Closely approximating the route that Paul Revere took on his ride in 1775, the Minuteman Bikeway has a long history dating back to the mid-1800s. The path’s right-of-way was laid out east of Lexington in 1846, while the portion west of Lexington was laid out in 1873. Railbanking of the line was proposed in 1974, with the final plan for the conversion being approved in 1991. Construction on the original section of the bikeway started shortly after and was completed in 1993.
Five years later, the bikeway was extended from East Arlington to Cambridge’s Alewife station. In 2002, the bikeway was repaved in Arlington. The Bedford Depot Park Enhancement Project, which served as the western terminus, was completed in 2004. Four years later, the bikeway was inducted into the national Rail-Trail Hall of Fame by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
The Minuteman Bikeway Today
Today, the Minuteman Bikeway is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and is leased to the municipalities through which it passes. Area residents utilize the bikeway for a variety of reasons other than biking, including walking, jogging and inline skating. During the winter months, there is usually enough snow on the bikeway to be used for cross-country skiing as well. Other than powered wheelchairs and emergency vehicles, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the bikeway.
Sites that can be accessed along the path include the following:
- Alewife Brook Reservation – a state park in Cambridge, Arlington and Somerville that serves as a habitat for numerous indigenous and migratory birds.
- Arlington’s Great Meadows – a 183-acre meadow in Lexington that serves as a recreational area and nature preserve.
- Hanscom Air Force Base – US Air Force base located mostly in Bedford that is part of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, which is responsible for total life cycle management of Air Force weapon systems.
- The Battle Green in Lexington – formally known as Lexington Common, the battle green is where the opening shots of the Battles of Lexington and Concord took place.
- Spy Pond – a 103-acre kettle hole pond located near the heart of Arlington.
Connecting to Other Paths
For those who wish to travel further than ten miles, the Minuteman Bikeway connects to several other bike paths as well. These include:
- The Alewife Brook Greenway
- The Cambridge Linear Park (which also leads to the Somerville Community Path)
- The Fitchburg Cutoff Path
- The Fresh Pond Reservation sidewalk path
- Narrow Gauge Rail Trail
- Reformatory Branch Rail Trail
Plans are also underway to extend the Somerville Community Path to downtown Boston, which would effectively make it possible to travel from Cambridge to downtown Boston by bike.