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  1. #1
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    Mountain Biking in (or very near) Boston

    Hello all,

    I am joining my wife for a week-long work conference in Boston Nov. 1-7. We are staying at the Westin hotel in Copley Plaza.

    Are there any good trails very close to Boston that are easily accessible by public transit? We are trying to not have a car during our visit.

    Also, is there a good bike shop in town that does rentals of real mountain bikes? I'm looking for a decent full-suspension XC bike.

    Is it worth packing my mountain bike clothes, shoes and helmet or is it just wishful thinking?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. #2
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    Call JRA cycles in Medford. They are a MTB based shop close to the city and the Fells, which is the closest trails to the city.
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    Chime in at nemba.org - should get some decent input.
    I think it might be worth it to grab a vehicle for a day or two - there's tons of great riding within a half and hour or so drive. Bummer you're gonna miss the Wicked Ride by a few days. That would've been perfect.

  4. #4
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    Urban adventours rents mountain bikes and they are downtown. From downtown you could ride to the Blue Hills, the Fells or the Western Greenway. Also on the weekends you can take a bike on the commuter rail and access a lot of other trail systems.

  5. #5
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    Definitely pack your riding gear, you're heading to a mountain biking mecca (at least by east coast standards).

    Here's some very local stuff- New]All Articles | Freehub Magazine England Mountain Bike Association

    But as others have mentioned you'll want to get to places a little further out than blue hills and the fells if you want to see the Boston areas best stuff.


    Checkout Nemba-->places to ride. If you ask me there are a few places that are unique and I have friends that drive and fly here to experience what we have to offer every year.
    Lynn Woods- Would be accessible via commuter rail on the weekends, one of the most technical trail systems in the country.
    North Shore- Encompassing School Street, Bruce and Toms, and Greenwood (along with a few others). Also some of the mile for mile most technical trail riding I've ever seen. I grew up out west and lived in Utah and Arizona. I've ridden in about 24 states and done quite a few of the IMBA Epic rides. I really think these trails are hard to beat for challenge, but you're not going to go out and ride 75 miles and climb 7000'. That's not Boston riding, you can do that in NH however.

    NEMBA's Vietnam Property- This one might be a challenge without a car, but it's the only piece of private MTB owned property I've ever ridden on, and one of only a few I've ever heard of in the world. It's got everything from techy singletrack to massive freeride features up to 15'ish foot drops. All in all I would guess there's at least 25 drops, countless jumps, and tons of technical trail features. Tough one to not go to if you're here and can ride.

    Highland Mountain, NH- The only bike specific lift park in the US, maybe the world? Needless to say they've got lots of gravity trails to offer and an ever expanding XC network that's roughly 12 miles now ( I believe). This would require a car, but you could always do the zipcar thing, it's really easy to grab a vehicle for the day.

    Personally I'll be riding here the only weekend you're in town- Sport Trails of the Ascutney Basin > Home
    First time heading up there, but you're welcome to join if you can arrange a car. It's not accessible via public transit as far as I know. But one of about 2 dozen places on my hit list, after 4 years living in New England I've yet to cover only a small portion of the great riding around here. Almost every corner of every state is expanding their singletrack, while it's not a mecca in the same way as Utah and Colorado are considered, there is tons of momentum here and tons of great riding to be had. So pack your stuff and hit the trails! It's a great time of year to be outside.



    Quote Originally Posted by onpaperwings View Post
    Hello all,

    I am joining my wife for a week-long work conference in Boston Nov. 1-7. We are staying at the Westin hotel in Copley Plaza.

    Are there any good trails very close to Boston that are easily accessible by public transit? We are trying to not have a car during our visit.

    Also, is there a good bike shop in town that does rentals of real mountain bikes? I'm looking for a decent full-suspension XC bike.

    Is it worth packing my mountain bike clothes, shoes and helmet or is it just wishful thinking?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  6. #6
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    What trails specifically are very close to the commuter rail lines? Can you only take a bike on the trains during the weekends?

  7. #7
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    No, you can bring bikes every day as long as it's not during peak hours/peak directions (link below). If you're going to try to ride on weekdays though bring a light, it's dark by 6:20 now and daylight savings time ends the Sunday you're here.

    http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Ri...T_brochure.pdf


    MBTA.com > Commuter Rail Maps and Schedules

    If you wanted to ride the north shore stuff (greenwood, school street, bruce and toms) you'd be looking to take the rockport line to either prides crossing or manchester stops. If you wanted to ride Lynn Woods (I highly recommend it at least once) you'd be taking the rockport line to Lynn.

    You could access needham town forest from the Needham Heights line, getting off at Needham Center.

    From the Subway line you could access The Fells from the Orange Line.

    From the Lowell line you could access Lowell Dracut Town Forest and Russell Mill fairly easily.

    From the Haverhill line you could access Harold Parker State Forest from the Andover stop.

  8. #8
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    Thanks! This is a great help. Still trying to figure out if it is worth the bike rental costs along with the possible car rental costs.

    But I do love biking...

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    Speaking of the Fells, large fire there now?

    https://www.facebook.com/NEALERTS/posts/255411444607842

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by onpaperwings View Post
    What trails specifically are very close to the commuter rail lines? Can you only take a bike on the trains during the weekends?
    One example of a place you can get to from the commuter rail would be Willowdale. This might be a good ride if you are not used to NE technical riding due to the relative lack of the rocks.

    To get there take the train to Ipswich from North Station. The closest trail head would be on Pineswamp road (~ 2 miles). Before the road ends there is a gate and trail head on the left. You can also head West down Linebrook road, there is a large parking area and trail head on the left. After the ride head over to the Choate Bridge Pub - great lobster rolls and Ipswich Ale.

    http://goo.gl/maps/kOhYi

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by onpaperwings View Post
    Thanks! This is a great help. Still trying to figure out if it is worth the bike rental costs along with the possible car rental costs.

    But I do love biking...
    I travel a lot for work and for fun, I always base this on the amount of time I'll have on the bike. So in a nutshell I can sometimes get 2 days of riding on a bike rental (depends on the shop though, some are cooler than others). I rented in Las Vegas last winter and picked the bike up at 2pm on a Saturday, had to have it back by the same time Sunday. So I rode Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, about 6 hours of riding for $75 I believe it worked out to. Well worth it in my opinion. I don't know what your schedule is but if you have almost all day Saturday and Sunday you could get your money's worth of riding in. If you're trying to cram a ride into 1 or 2 hours then it's probably not worth it.

    In all honesty the fells is what it is. As a local I almost never go there, the mountain bike loop is decent, but the reason I ride is for the north shore stuff. If you can get up there I think you'll have an experience worth more $$ than just going to the fells. Don't want to bad talk any place with trails and the fells has been through a drawn out political process years in the making to even allow bikes in there, big win for anyone on 2 wheels. But if I was coming here from out of town I'd like someone to tell me that LynnWoods, School Street and Bruce and Toms are where it's at, that's the stuff people are constantly wow'd about, that's where visitors ask "how do you ride that line" etc...

    YouTube some videos and checkout strava, lookup some of the reviews on MTBR and you'll get a sense of what you're getting yourself into. The fells is a completely different experience than the trails on the north shore.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Tom) View Post
    One example of a place you can get to from the commuter rail would be Willowdale. This might be a good ride if you are not used to NE technical riding due to the relative lack of the rocks.

    To get there take the train to Ipswich from North Station. The closest trail head would be on Pineswamp road (~ 2 miles). Before the road ends there is a gate and trail head on the left. You can also head West down Linebrook road, there is a large parking area and trail head on the left. After the ride head over to the Choate Bridge Pub - great lobster rolls and Ipswich Ale.

    http://goo.gl/maps/kOhYi
    Nice, didn't realize it was that close to the train. I would highly suggest a tour guide at Willowdale, I've spent a lot of time lost in there, even after getting a couple tours. I guess that goes for just about any riding spot around here though.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnar602 View Post
    I travel a lot for work and for fun, I always base this on the amount of time I'll have on the bike. So in a nutshell I can sometimes get 2 days of riding on a bike rental (depends on the shop though, some are cooler than others). I rented in Las Vegas last winter and picked the bike up at 2pm on a Saturday, had to have it back by the same time Sunday. So I rode Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, about 6 hours of riding for $75 I believe it worked out to. Well worth it in my opinion. I don't know what your schedule is but if you have almost all day Saturday and Sunday you could get your money's worth of riding in. If you're trying to cram a ride into 1 or 2 hours then it's probably not worth it.

    In all honesty the fells is what it is. As a local I almost never go there, the mountain bike loop is decent, but the reason I ride is for the north shore stuff. If you can get up there I think you'll have an experience worth more $$ than just going to the fells. Don't want to bad talk any place with trails and the fells has been through a drawn out political process years in the making to even allow bikes in there, big win for anyone on 2 wheels. But if I was coming here from out of town I'd like someone to tell me that LynnWoods, School Street and Bruce and Toms are where it's at, that's the stuff people are constantly wow'd about, that's where visitors ask "how do you ride that line" etc...

    YouTube some videos and checkout strava, lookup some of the reviews on MTBR and you'll get a sense of what you're getting yourself into. The fells is a completely different experience than the trails on the north shore.
    Well said, agree completely. Nice Job L (gnar602)
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnar602 View Post
    I travel a lot for work and for fun, I always base this on the amount of time I'll have on the bike. So in a nutshell I can sometimes get 2 days of riding on a bike rental (depends on the shop though, some are cooler than others). I rented in Las Vegas last winter and picked the bike up at 2pm on a Saturday, had to have it back by the same time Sunday. So I rode Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, about 6 hours of riding for $75 I believe it worked out to. Well worth it in my opinion. I don't know what your schedule is but if you have almost all day Saturday and Sunday you could get your money's worth of riding in. If you're trying to cram a ride into 1 or 2 hours then it's probably not worth it.
    Thanks for the advice and thoughts. I normally don't have this much time at the same place when I travel, so this is a new idea for me.

    Thanks also for the thoughts about the local trails.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by onpaperwings View Post
    Thanks for the advice and thoughts. I normally don't have this much time at the same place when I travel, so this is a new idea for me.

    Thanks also for the thoughts about the local trails.
    No problem, it looks like the ride I'm going to in Vermont is on Sunday. So if you decide on riding local and can get around let me know. Happy to give a tour. Where are you coming from?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnar602 View Post
    No problem, it looks like the ride I'm going to in Vermont is on Sunday. So if you decide on riding local and can get around let me know. Happy to give a tour. Where are you coming from?
    Thanks for the offer. I am coming from Missouri. Unfortunately, I already have plans on Sunday.

    It looks like a friend may be able to give me a ride one of the days I am up there.

  17. #17
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    Western greenway, from alewife through Belmont to waltham and back. Best ride inside 95, I think.

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    Western Greenway ? Waltham Land Trust

    You can take bikes on the red line as long as it's not during rush hour during the week. You can't take them on the green line. Not sure how it works for the rail.

    The two best options would be to pedal your bike from Copley to park street and ride the red to alewife, then get off and either take the roads south and west towards Belmont, or there may be a trail that follows the rail. The best place to pick up the greenway is down the road a bit then on your right, there's a dirt road that goes up and a single track trail starts that connects on up the hill. It's very hard to explain but it makes sense if you look at the trail map and street map at the same time. I'm on my iPad otherwise I'd tell you the street name!

    The other way is to take the rail into Belmont and start at the same area, or take it to waltham and ride back to Belmont. Again, you'll have to compare maps and such, but each is easily rideable

    The trail itself is pretty cool, mostly single track, well hidden, moderate flow but not too rocky. Stone hurst and rock meadow can be super confusing, so bring a map and keep your eyes peeled.

    Personally, I think the trails are a lot nicer than the fells, and there are no public sex spots to run into either. Total length for and out and back from stone hurst to rock meadow and back was about 7 miles, so it's not too short either. It's not as nice as Russell mill or the Ipswich area, but it's smoother than wompatuck or Lynn or Harold Parker.

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    Well technically Lynn Woods is inside 95, so I'd have to rank that above Greenway. But I live by the Greenway and ride it regularly now and link in Prospect Hill. Putting them both together as an out and back gets you 2,000' of climbing and 20ish miles. Not a bad ride for me...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnar602 View Post
    Well technically Lynn Woods is inside 95, so I'd have to rank that above Greenway. But I live by the Greenway and ride it regularly now and link in Prospect Hill. Putting them both together as an out and back gets you 2,000' of climbing and 20ish miles. Not a bad ride for me...
    ooh prospect hill is brutal. it's great to ride down, but up will make a man out of you.

    I guess I must not have spent a ton of time in lynn, because I wasn't that impressed when I've been there. Extremely rocky makes for not a lot of fun. The greenway is way more tame/singletracky, which is more my speed.

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    yeah, that's true. I guess I was speaking from a technical standpoint. I know people that ride Lynn and won't touch anything like the greenway, and vice versa. But I'll ride either place, I don't mind ripping 20 miles of smooth flowy singletrack or riding 10-12 miles at lynn and leaving feeling like I got beat up for 3 hours.

    Yeah, Prospect is the real deal for climbing around here. I've yet to find an off road route up the North side of the hill that isn't a ridiculous grade. I think this is the side the ski lift used to be on, back in whatever year they had skiing there. Have you made a route up that side?

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    yeah lynn, harold parker, pretty much MOST of the trails around boston are going to beat you up, and 6 miles will feel like 12, so on and so forth...but I like something a little more than the smoothness of KT, but less than the brutal death march stuff. Wompy can be both really fun, then absolutely hand your butt to you on the other side. IMO the actual greenway trail is much closer to the fun side of wompy.

    For prospect, I don't really have a good path. I used to go up the road then ride off the back side, then push back up and ride down the front, but the front trails aren't really developed, and the back trail is steep as all get out. I'd love to build some jump park style trails there, but I don't want to push people's buttons. I don't even attempt to ride up any of the front trails...the road is enough of a challenge on a knobby bike and the trails down *can* be pretty rewarding. I do kind of wish there was a way to connect the storer conservation with the park behind the church...i forget what they call that parcel of land now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich View Post
    I do kind of wish there was a way to connect the storer conservation with the park behind the church...
    Seconded.

    Here's a 50 mile loop I did with a buddy at the end of last season that incorporates Whipple Hill, Belmont, the Western Greenway, Storer, Prospect Hill, Weston Conservation Lands, Minuteman Park and some smaller Lexington Conservation areas.

    I'd still like to find a better link between Weston and Concord but this was the best we could do.

    Mountain Bike Ride Profile | End of Season Epic Ride near Arlington | Times and Records | Strava

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    Quote Originally Posted by noreasterbackcountry View Post

    I'd still like to find a better link between Weston and Concord but this was the best we could do.

    Mountain Bike Ride Profile | End of Season Epic Ride near Arlington | Times and Records | Strava
    What you want to do is ride the horse trails on the west side of the RR tracks out of Lincoln, then get on "the fireroad" on the other side of the tracks at Walden Pond and follow that North. This is a service road, that 4x4 trucks are driven on to service the tracks and the pond. The road will end at the RR tracks - ride along the tracks for 100 feet then bear right. There is a single track XC running trail in the woods around the Concord Carlisle high school. Eventually this will end however you will be across the street from Hapgood/Wright. At this point get on the BCT, which goes right through there. The BCT has been extended and rerouted - it now goes all the way to the Concord Museum in Concord Center.

    Also, looks like you did a loop in the woods off Concord road and then went back out on the road. You can connect from the old RR grade all the way up to Old Sudbury Rd. Then take Lincoln Street (partially a dirt road) up to Lincoln Center. Don't go near Drumlin Farm with a bike - even though big trucks are driven on the farm roads a bike riding on those same roads will cause an ecological disaster on par with the Exxon Valdez.
    Last edited by (Tom); 10-28-2013 at 04:28 PM. Reason: .

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    That's pretty much my strategy for getting up and down prospect as well. I've attempted to go up the trails on the back side a few times but it's steep and loose, It'd be nice if we could just build a switch back style trail off to the left side of the paved rode to get back up without needing to stay on pavement.

    Which church do you mean? I get stuck riding from Prospect over to Storer on Totten Pond, which royally sucks during rush hour, but that's the price I guess I get to pay for living in this dense city. Take the bad with the good.

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