Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Mystic River Ramble

Every year the Somerville Bicycle Committee hosts the Tour de Somerville. This year's ride was so enjoyable that I figured it would make a fine urban jaunt in it's own right.

The route is almost entirely on separated bike paths from Davis Square to Alewife Brook, and following the Mystic River downstream to the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse in Ten Hills Village.

We began near the Davis Sq T Stn, you of course could start anywhere on the Somerville Community Path.

As you may notice, I'm in the photo with the microphone. Since I was helping lead the Tour, I must thank Doug Mink at masspaths.net for taking these photos and sharing them.

The beginning of the tour is fairly straightforward, going out the Linear and Minuteman Paths towards the Alewife T Stn. But once we pass into Arlington and under the Rte. 2 bridge it starts to get interesting. Just before the path veers left around the fenced in area, take a right turn into the neighborhood. You pass between some stone blocks onto Thorndike, which is a dirt road here. Immediately take another right onto a narrow, dirt trail.

In short order this trail will take you over to the new Alewife Brook Path. Heading left, downstream, on this path is pleasant. There are a few openings out to the brook. It isn't long before you reach Mass Ave. It is best here to take the right onto the sidewalk and cross Mass Ave at the intersection.

The path on the Cambridge/Somerville side of the Brook is next to Rte. 16, but the benefit is that it is paved. The Brook will have trails on both sides, the Arlington side being unpaved.

Since the paths are still under construction, the section between Woodstock Street and Broadway is not passable. It is best to ride through St. Paulson cemetery, easily accessed by crossing the little Woodstock St Bridge, and taking the next two right turns.

After crossing Broadway the route passes by a number of ball fields, a public DCR pool and Dilboy Field. The path here is already very well paved.

Next you cross the Mystic River Parkway. After crossing, going left will take you upstream along some existing paths to the Mystic Lakes. But we went right to continue downstream towards Medford. This section has very nice, large grass fields, but the could use some repaving. Luckily e DCR has a plan for improving this section.

Just after you cross under the railroad bridge, which will hopefully be the terminus of the proposed Green Line extension, you'll reach a bridge across the Mystic River. Here you want to cross Rte. 16 and the bridge. The path near the river is only a walking path in a grass field. A pleasant ride if you have wider tires.

The path soon is paved again and you pass the recently refurbished Medford band shell.

Continuing along the path you eventually have to cross Rte. 16 at a signaled cross walk. The path will take you to a crossing at Main Street, cross the bridge over the river and take an immediate right onto Clipership Drive. You are right next to Medford Center, so if you need to stop for a snack, now is the time.

Take the next right onto Riverside, at the light. Continue underneath I-93. Take your first right again into Park. A very short road, and across the road is a yacht club parking lot. Cross to the far end of the parking lot and ride along the grasses walkway to end up on another set of Mystic River paved paths.

Along this section you'll see Medford new wind turbine. Proceed along the path and cross over the river and under Rte.16.

And continue on the path that continues along the Somerville side of the Mystic.

This path has some unique views with a mixture of wilderness and the city.

From Riverside this is one of the longest sections of path without any street crossings that I know. That path ends at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, where we had refreshments provided by RedBones.

Unfortunately, Red Bones won't be there when you ride by. So you should just join us on next years Tour de Somerville.

Now I know that this route can be difficult to follow. It could really use some signage. But in the meantime here is a map that should help!

View B&J Mystic River Ramble in a larger map


  1. Oh! I didn't know about the new paths; will have to check this out!

  2. Thanks for posting this. But every place where you wrote 'Malden' should say 'Medford' instead. (Same on your Facebook post.)