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Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail Trail

Mountain Bike Massachusetts Rail Trails
Greater Boston Region

Family / Historic

Trail Description
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Location: Bedford (Loomis Street) to Bedford-Billerica town line. Middlesex County, MA.

Directions: Take Rt.3 south from I-495 or Rt.3 north from I-95 to the town of Bedford. Park near Bedford Depot Park.

Trail Length: 3 miles

Trail Surface: Asphalt, crushed stone.

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Caution: Shared use with hikers.




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Mountain Bike Massachusetts Rail Trails

Trail Description:

The Bedford Narrow-Gauge Rail Trail is shorter, more rustic and much less crowded than the nearby, paved Minuteman Bikeway. A sidewalk connects the two trails at the Bedford Depot Park. It is built on the railbed of the country’s first (1877) 2-ft. gauge common-carrier railway, the Billerica & Bedford Railroad.

Initially, the trail is asphalt with the rest a hard-packed stone dust. A trail highlight is beautiful Fawn Lake (formerly Hayden Pond), site of a famous resort - Hotel Sweetwater. People used to ride the railroad here to bathe in springs that were believed to have medicinal benefits. Pull off for a moment and enjoy the peaceful natural setting. A path circles the pond.

The trail also passes through some conservation and natural areas, residential areas and skirts the VA Hospital Complex. Not all street crossings are marked, so exercise caution. The 11 mile Minuteman Bikeway can be accessed from the southern trailhead of the Narrow-Gauge Trail at Bedford Depot Park. It is paved all the way to its end in West Cambridge and can get crowded with walkers, skaters and bikers. Bedford Depot is an 1870s vintage restored railroad station, with services, info and exhibits.



On a trip to Wales, England, a Mr. Mansfield of Hyde Park Massachussetts observed the Festniog Railway which used a track of just under 2 feet between the rails as opposed to the 4 feet 8 1/2 inches currently in use by American railroads. Upon his return home he built a minature version in his backyard as an experiment. He proposed using this novel engineering concept to build the railroad that would run from Boston & Lowell's station in North Billerica and the Middlesex Central's Bedford Station to the south.

On August 31, 1877, Ariel and Puck, two little Forney-type steam engines, pulled cars loaded with thrilled passengers through woods and along fields over the newly formed right-of-way. People came from far and wide to study this unusual two foot enterprise, America's first narrow gauge railroad.


For more information:

Friends of Bedford Depot Park, Inc.
Bedford Freight House
120 South Road
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730-2344

Phone: (781) 687-6180
TTY Users: 711 (AT&T National Relay Service)
Website: Friends Of The Bedford Depot




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