The Minuteman Bikeway

The Minuteman Bikeway

Location:
Bedford, Lexington, Arlington and Cambridge, Massachusetts

Operating Hours
The Minute Man National Historical Park is open sunrise to sunset. The parking lot gates close promptly at sunset.

Detailed map of the Minuteman Bikeway

Less detailed bikeway map

You won’t get lonesome on the Minuteman Bikeway! This 11-mile trail through suburban Boston is one of New England’s most popular places. Warm summer weekends in particular bring people of all ages and abilities elbow-to-elbow along the bikeway. In fact, it’s become a new type of “Main Street” where strangers and neighbors alike come together while riding, walking, or skating on the path.

The bikeway boasts more than just a vibrant present. It has a colorful past that includes, as the name implies, a role during the Revolutionary War, extending through the area where the war began in April 1775. Then in 1846, the Lexington & West Cambridge Railroad built and started service on the line. The blizzard of 1977 halted passenger service though for good, and the demise of freight service shortly followed in 1981.

In 1991, the line was railbanked by federal law, making it possible to transform the line into a rail-trail yet still preserved future railroad opportunities. About a year later, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the neighborhoods along the route celebrated the opening of the Minuteman Bikeway as the nation’s 500th rail-trail. By 1998, the Bikeway was extended from downtown Arlington to the Alewife T-station in Cambridge. Then in 2000, the White House recognized the trail as a Millennium Trail (a program initiated by the Clinton administration that noted outstanding trails in honor of the millennium), solidifying its reputation as a premiere recreation and transportation route.

Though most users know the entire route as the Minuteman Bikeway, there are actually several connecting trails that lead from Somerville to downtown Concord. From Boston you have the option of hopping to the Red Line subway to Alewife T-station where the Minuteman begins. Or to add 1.5 miles to your route, you can jump off at Davis Square Station and take the Alewife Linear Park to the Minuteman.

Traveling north to Arlington, you understand why this trail is so popular with pleasure-seekers and commuters alike. Heading northeast from Cambridge, Massachusetts, the bikeway connects to Arlington, Lexington and Bedford easing access to neighborhoods, schools and natural areas as Spy Pond and Great Meadows.

At Mile 1.5, it seems as if the trail dead-ends at Swan Place in Arlington but it doesn’t. Here, you take a short on-road jog; though sidewalks are also available for those uneasy with road cycling. Turn right on Swan Place, proceed to Massachusetts Avenue, turn left and look for the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum on your right. Then look for a set of old train tracks that crosses in front of the museum. Visually follow these tracks and you’ll see the onward bikeway just across from Mystic Street.

Back on the trail, you’ll soon reach the Lexington visitor center, which provides information about historical sites and other attractions. Farther north, the wooded corridor grows more peaceful before reaching the end of the trail at Bedford Depot Park. You can end your journey here or push on to the Reformatory Branch Trail by following Loomis Street to where it curves and the 4.5 mile trail picks up. This trail will lead you on a natural surface path through a number of protected wetlands to its western trailhead in Concord.

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