There may be no better combination of cycling and American history than Boston’s Minuteman Rail Trail.
On the eve of the American Revolutionary War, in the waning hours of April 18th, 1775, silversmith Paul Revere rode a borrowed horse from Charlestown to Lexington, MA to warn fellow Patriots of an impending British march. It become one of the defining moments of the quest for American independence, and was memorialized by acclaimed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Some 218 years later, the railroad that closely mirrored this historic journey was converted into a multi-purpose pathway, and the Minuteman Rail Trail was born.
Thanks to a handful of extensions and renovations, the current length of this celebrated thoroughfare measures just over 10 miles. This is actually significantly farther than Mr. Revere ever made it, as he was stopped by a British patrol on his way to Concord and had his horse confiscated. You probably won’t have to worry about any such obstacles on your ride, but it’s nice to know you’ll be in lofty company if ever you do.
From the Alewife T-Station in Cambridge, the Minuteman Rail Trail climbs in a steady northeasterly direction past beautiful natural scenes like Spy Pond and the Great Meadow of Arlington. But for one slightly awkward connection which requires you to zigzag your way along Massachusetts Ave. in Arlington, the entirety of the path is off-street and wonderfully secluded.
By the time you arrive at the trail’s terminus in the quaint New England town of Bedford, you may find yourself surprisingly out of breath. That’s due to the fact that, while the bulk of the path appears to be relatively flat, there’s actually a gradual incline from east to west of about 220 vertical ft. Hey, at least you’ll be in for an easy return journey.
Because Boston’s T-trains are bike friendly on weekends and off-peak weekday hours, the trail is easily accessible no matter where you’re staying in the city. If you’d like to tack on a few supplemental miles, consider riding around the nearby Fresh Pond in Cambridge. The lake is circumnavigated by a secluded, hard-packed trail, and if you duck into the woods on the southeastern end you can even catch a glimpse of the old rail lines.