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Maynard to Lowell using Assabet River Rail Trail to Bruce Freeman Trail

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Maynard to Lowell using Assabet River Rail Trail to Bruce Freeman Trail

Old 08-06-18, 09:09 AM
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rumrunn6
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Maynard to Lowell using Assabet River Rail Trail to Bruce Freeman Trail

I'll be doing this round trip periodically thru the year, I think, taking some heat off the Minuteman :-) So thought I'd start a thread to come back to seasonally, or whatever. Lots of crossover tho w other threads on BF

Assabet River Rail Trail to Bruce Freeman Trail ending in Lowell
approx. 17 miles to Alltown gas station (980 Chelmsford St, Lowell, MA)
approx 34 miles round trip
approx. 3 miles Maynard to South Acton Train Station on roads & top part of Assabet River Trail
approx. 4 miles (on the road, only 1 mile w a designated bike lane on the road (ending at Kmart), to trail bridge entrance 318 Great Rd Acton)
approx 11 miles to the parking lot at the end of the BFT & an Alltown gas station, 980 Chelmsford St, Lowell, MA w Dunkin Donuts, restrooms & Wifi! (but no seating)

Saturday 8/4/18
chores, errands & bike maintenance, then late in the day 5 pmish? time for a ride
temps in the 90s & humid. dodged passing showers the same day/time a tornado touched down 40 miles southwest in Dudley/Webster, MA

what's good:
can ride from home, no car required
trip is broken up by several milestones/changes making the whole trip seem less monotonous
mostly protected trail away from cars
not heavily used
end/turnaround has place to get snacks & use a bathroom with Wifi!

what's bad:
4 miles on the road, 1 mile with a designated bike lane but 3 sketchy miles on the road w/ no bike lane & in some places no shoulder whatsoever!
lots of road crossings, mostly quiet but several requiring a hard stop



it's a pretty trail & will be interesting as the seasons change



this intersection in Chelmsford can be busy & when there is no traffic it's very tempting not to follow the signals. gotta watch myself



don't care for the section w/o a bike lane, not much room for cars to pass & when the weather turns foul will present additional hazards. there's a narrow sidewalk on the other side but you can't ride 18 mph on it, especially with pedestrians on it. was "checked out" by two separate Police cars. don't think they are used to seeing cyclists in this area


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Old 08-16-18, 07:07 PM
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took another run at this, mid-week, mid-day

the mile markers are a nice feature



parts of route 27 look like this






other parts look like this. was using my mirror so when I saw a semi approaching I hopped on the sidewalk for tiny bit, until it passed. why push my luck, right?



the sharp right turn from route 27 to 2A/119 is a bit awkward, especially considering the other crossing on 2A/119 to get on the trail. would be nice to find a shortcut bypassing this intersection & that road crossing * think I'll try Brook St which would take me to the trail behind Donelan's Market



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Old 08-17-18, 03:38 AM
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Nice description and photos, @rumrunn6. Are the trails paved, i.e for 25 C tires? Nice to know about the South Acton train station as a way to access this ride from Boston on the Fitchburg Line. MBTA > Riding the T > Bikes on the T

BTW, I came across a few earlier posts from you about this route:
Originally Posted by rholland1951 View Post
Connecting the Assabet River Rail Trail to the Bruce Freeman hadn't occurred to me. What roads do you use for that?
Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
Route 27, it's right there at the S. Acton train station. then just turn right at 2A/119 until you see the big new bridge. there's an entrance ramp on the northbound side of 2A/119
Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I guess this is the recent extension of the Assabet River Rail Trail. a new section opened crossing Acton St parallel to Route 27 in Maynard, MA. coming South on Route 27 (now that the trees have filled in) when you make a right onto Acton St.

it is not easy to see bikes or pedestrians. someone not familiar with the area & maybe going too fast may have a bad interaction at this spot
….

anyway, if you're riding this trail, in this area, please be careful. I suppose I can write a letter or something to MASS DOT, just to get something on file
Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
was having a nice ride on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail heading from Acton toward Lowell until our ride came to a crashing halt (5 miles from the car) at Pond St, Chelmsford when Wifey struck a stanchion hiding in the shade & broke her wrist (crack in the radius bone). she was distracted by the lovely beach we just passed

before the crash, while we were enjoying our ride she was talking about how she could work a partial bike commute into her daily work schedule. well that's not going to happen. & her first ride of the summer was her last. I doubt if in mid-August she will want to ride again, even tho she loves it so much. too far into the future to consider right now

she did enjoy the new insulated water bottle holder *sigh*

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 08-17-18 at 06:59 AM. Reason: added link to MBTA website, and then BTW
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Old 08-17-18, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Nice description and photos, @rumrunn6. Are the trails paved, i.e for 25 C tires? Nice to know about the South Acton train station as a way to access this ride from Boston on the Fitchburg Line. MBTA > Riding the T > Bikes on the T
yes both trails are paved, I run 25mm tires as well. these are the hazards to watch out for
  • crossing route 27 from the train station to travel north on route 27. there's no crossing at that spot. I guess I should ride the sidewalk to the traffic light & cross there
  • sand, quite thick in some spots, in the bike lane on route 27 in Acton, mostly on the northbound side
  • coming south on route 27, near the intersection with route 2, there is a solitary storm drain, with the old fashioned kind of parallel slots running the same direction as traffic & bike wheels! I saw it just in time but couldn't take a pic. I will for sure make note of it's exact location on future trips
  • along the BFT trail, the stone dust side margins have abundant wash-out erosion. only a problem if you venture off the pavement
hmmm, not sure the trail is worth traveling by train for. I guess maybe if you want to try a new trail

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Old 08-17-18, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post

the sharp right turn from route 27 to 2A/119 is a bit awkward, especially considering the other crossing on 2A/119 to get on the trail. would be nice to find a shortcut bypassing this intersection & that road crossing * think I'll try Brook St which would take me to the trail behind Donelan's Market.

Brook St. is MUCH more pleasant than continuing on 27 to 2A. Or Concord Rd. past the Acton Congregational Church too.

However, have you considered going round the southeast side of Great Hill and the Aboretum?

School St. (past the South Acton Congregational Church)->Piper Rd./Taylor Rd.->Minot Ave.->Concord Rd?

-mr. bill

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Old 08-17-18, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
yes the trail is paved, I run 25mm tires as well. these are the hazards t watch out for...hmmm, not sure the trail is worth traveling by train for. I guess maybe if you want to try a new trail
Thanks for your reply...See also my addenda to my preceding post.
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Old 08-17-18, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
Brook St. is MUCH more pleasant than continuing on 27 to 2A. Or Concord Rd. past the Congregational Church too.

However, have you considered going round the southeast side of Great Hill and the Aboretum?

School St.->Piper Rd./Taylor Rd.->Minot Ave.->Concord Rd?
Wifey also mentioned Concord Rd! thank you! & I have taken that school St shortcut when I don't feel like waiting for that left onto 27 coming back from Staples or Trader Joe's. you know the area well!

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Old 08-17-18, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
Wifey also mentioned Concord Rd! thank you! & I have taken that school St shortcut when I don't feel like waiting for that left onto 27 coming back from Staples or Trader Joe's. you know the area well!
My day job. Here's a pic of Brook St. just before it was resurfaced:

Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
....
I will take cobbles over machine cut tarmac any day:

....
All in all a glorious day to be out and riding.


-mr. bill
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Old 08-21-18, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
this intersection in Chelmsford can be busy & when there is no traffic it's very tempting not to follow the signals. gotta watch myself

That crossing is the worst--it's totally unclear which way you are supposed to cross to stay on the bike path as neither the lights nor the crosswalk line up that way. I've probably done that crossing 20 times, and I still don't know what they expected bicyclists to do there.
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Old 08-22-18, 09:52 AM
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took another crack at the trail avoiding route 27 altogether starting on Concord Rd near ice House Pond (small new parking lot) & stopped before that intersection in Chelmsford. so it was only 20 miles round trip








lot is a good size, but next time won't be parking next to the blue box



one of the bollards at Pond Street, Chelmsford is missing



flyer at the Brick House Restaurant end about how to wear a helmet



route 225 is definitely a hard stop unless you get lucky w others ahead of you, getting the light to turn in your favor



just realized there is an arrow pointing the opposite direction of the upcoming turn. I'm sure it's there for a reason


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Old 08-24-18, 02:12 PM
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used Concord Rd last night. it was helpful to cut out part of route 27
had a close call on the BFRT at a road crossing, most rd crossings are pretty tame, or, if not, they are obvious hard stops, or obvious to use caution, slow or stop, etc. but last night, in the darkness I approached a crossing, was able to see the rd in both directions well before the crossing & saw no headlights & heard nothing. it was dark & quiet. as I crossed a car appeared out of nowhere to my right moving at a good clip. it startled me but I was well ahead of it exiting the roadway well before it wanted to occupy the same roadway. the unique problem with that crossing is a hill that separates the oncoming traffic & blocks my view of it, & their view of the crossing. the car was exceeding the speed limit, I think & I didn't stop because there were no cars. but if I wind up dead it doesn't matter who's fault it was, even if it was shared. I need to make note of that location

thankfully on the way home I spotted that sewer grate with parallel bars before riding over it. it is near where route 27 crosses route 2. luckily the traffic was light & I have a good light

overall a very pleasant evening
there were some ppl on bikes that caught in the darkness w/o lights
some more experienced (& faster) riders showed up later in the evening
one guy had a light & when he saw me in the distance started to blink it don't know what his deal was I dipped mine lower & he seemed to do the same but then as we got closer he flashed me in the eyes ... WTF?


returning south I could hear maybe a band at Nara Park? but it was weird cuz I could hear it then not then hear it then not. as I passed the park itself I saw nothing ... spooky

riding the sidewalk, looking back after passing route 2 I think?



significant sand in the bike lane after passing the train station & near/opposite gas station / hardware store / Dunkin Donuts



blind driveway getting closer to Concord Rd


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Old 03-18-19, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post

this trail's designers can take a lesson from the designers of the Cape Cod Rail Trail extension. the CCRT lane dividers won't cause a crash cuz they're mere bumps, not hard curbs like the BFRT. plus they use a traditional traffic sign everyone is familiar with

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Old 10-26-19, 06:04 PM
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got out for a ride today. didn't want to deal with cars so drove my bike to the Ice House Pond parking. is it ironic that after getting a snack in town & on my way to the trail, I witnessed a boy get hit by a car on the Assabet trail, at a road crossing. he seemed OK & I posted about it elsewhere post no. 8452 here

I had a safe ride. hope others had one as well today







the leaves are piling up, but at least they're dry. saw only one small puddle


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Old 01-05-20, 04:30 AM
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meanwhile 2-3 months later is a bit different now














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Old 01-07-20, 08:35 PM
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Looking forward to getting on this route and off of the crowded minute man. My friends and I usually head up the Minteman to get north of the city and then take some roads from there.
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Old 01-08-20, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by wykaman View Post
Looking forward to getting on this route and off of the crowded minute man. My friends and I usually head up the Minteman to get north of the city and then take some roads from there.
yeah do it. the conditions shud be improving with warm wet weather expected this weekend. it's too bad they don't plow it tho, like they do the MM. so once we get some snow pack we have to wait for it to clear naturally. with February, March & early April looming, good riding days are numbered. let me know if you have any questions about accessing it &/or parking, etc. I'm not an authority but might be able to help. you can start with their website

https://brucefreemanrailtrail.org/

if you're into exploring the undeveloped end of this trail, at the opposite end, I went to follow the end of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail where pavement turns to dirt & the old RR tracks keep going. Started at the Concord Middle School Sanborn campus approx 835 Old Marlboro Rd, Concord. in July


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Old 02-03-20, 08:04 PM
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weather & trail conditions improved enough to make it past the waterfall finally. kinda weird that it's February. Ice House Pond, Acton to Brickhouse Rest. Chelmsford

it was a bit rainy & dark. wish I got out earlier but glad I got out for 19 miles



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Old 04-09-20, 03:10 PM
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early spring ride after work on a decent day. largely quiet a cpl hours before dusk



some old tracks can stilll be seen



some side trails closed by Nara Park, Acton. probably due to the COVID Pandemic & trying to keep ppl from gathering in groups & sharing play equpiment?



summer is coming ... gotta have faith!

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Old 05-04-20, 06:25 PM
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ppl are not pushing cross-walk buttons. many on this trail are auto-activated, but not all. at one busy road, while ppl were waiting at both sides, I used the back of one of my gloved knuckles to push the button. had to keep remembering not to wipe my nose with that finger. & when I got back to my car had to remember to spray it w/ my special sauce



​​​​​​

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Old 01-02-22, 07:26 PM
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New Year's Eve, day 20.16 miles on the BFRT
43 degrees & humid but not wet
from Ice House Pond, 120 Concord Rd, Acton
to Brickhouse Center Restaurant 1 Central Sq, Chelmsford
last cpl hrs of the year
recent rain, but the path was clear of water & no ice or snow now

for 2022, I certainly hope to:


the Pearl Izumi Men's Elite Softshell Glove size XXL were just right

uneventful & that's not a bad thing

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