This is a local-oriented attraction, which many folks from Boston are probably aware of, but we thought we’d write it up. The 11 mile Minuteman Commuter Bikeway is a fun bike trail in the Greater Boston area.
It starts roughly 5 miles west of Boston at the Alewife MBTA Station at the end of the Red Line, and continues through Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. From there, it’s possible to keep riding on surface streets to Concord or Walden Pond. You will have a delightfully ride that has plenty of shade plus cute ponds and towns.
(Note: for a Boston visitor interested a bike ride right in the city center with a more urban feel, an alternative we’d plug is the Charles River Trail, which we previously wrote up, particularly the last few miles nearest the city/harbor. It’s easy to grab a Blue Bike using the app, and ride the scenic route along the river and city.)
The Minuteman Commuter Bikeway runs from the Alewife MBTA Station in Cambridge, by Spy Pond, through the Arlington Center, through the Lexington Center, and to the Depot Park (old railroad station) in Bedford.
Renting a Bicycle
If you live in the Boston area and own a bike, your main challenge will be how to get it to the bike trail. If you live near public transportation, your best bet is to take the Red Line to the Alewife MBTA station. However, if you are visiting, you will need to rent a bicycle.
Here are a few bicycle rental ideas:
- Cambridge: Consider renting a Blue Bike, which you can pick up a bike at the Alewife MBTA station, or another convenient point near the bike trail.
- Arlington: Check to see if the Bike Stop has re-opened (temporarily stopped renting bikes due to Covid), or pick up a Blue Bike.
- Lexington: Rent a traditional bike from Battle Road Bikes or rent an e-bike from Pedego Lexington.
- Bedford: Call ahead to see if bike rentals are available at Bikeway Source.
- More ideas: Check the current list of bike rental shops recommended by the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway organization. Note that last time I checked, it was a little outdated.
The Joys of an E-Bike
My first experience with this trail was 20 years ago, while dating my now-husband. He was into biking to the point that he would occasionally bike the Boston Marathon route round trip! Knowing that I was not up to that, he suggested a “shorter” bike ride of 10 miles. He neglected to clarify “each way.” I made it back, but it was more than I’d expected.
Fast forward to 2022, and now this is one of our favorite trails. Jeremy is still really into biking, although I have always struggled to keep up. Our first solution was to put 80-100 lbs of children into a trailer and make Jeremy pull that; putting us at about the same speed. As the boys got older, the tandem attachments were a little less of a success, but if I had a boy that actually put effort into peddling while the other did not, I could keep up with him. Now that our boys are teenagers, all three of them simply want to go faster than me.
So, I got an e-bike! What a delight! Our first ride was a 30-mile loop that included the Charles River Trail and the Esplanade, to the Museum of Science, a ride through Cambridge, a portion of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway, and continued through Waltham until we were back on the Charles River Trail. What a great purchase!
Now, if I want to get some exercise, I turn off the pedal assist, go my formerly slow pace, and enjoy biking by myself. If I am with the whole family, I can turn the pedal assist on and off depending on a lot of different factors. One of our favorite trails in the area is the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway!
After leaving the Alewife MBTA station, one of the first points of interest will be Spy Pond.
There is a place right off Linwood Street to lock up your bike, then you can take a stroll along the water, have a picnic, or let your kids play in the playground.
Note that there has been a recent bloom of toxic algae, so while the beach looks quite pleasant, it is not advisable to swim in the water.
As you continue into Arlington Center, you may want to stop at a restaurant or explore the downtown area.
If you get confused about where the trail continues, it is in a roughly diagonal path across the intersection above.
From here, you will continue on until you reach the Lexington Center. Make sure you slow down at all intersections. While the cars will usually stop for you at the crosswalks, some drivers do live up to the Massachusetts’ driver nickname and will put your life in danger if you blast though the intersection without looking!
Lexington is full of history and worth exploring outside a quick bike ride! It is also a great place to stop for ice cream (Rancatore’s, Abbott’s, Fruitee Yogurt, Baskin Robbin’s) or or pizza (Mario’s, Bertucci’s, Upper Crust)!
The paved bicycle path will peacefully continue through tree lined paths until you reach Bedford’s Depot Park. Take a quick peek at the old station and enjoy the history of the area!
What a fun bike ride!