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Marblehead Rail Trail (The Path)

Northeast Region, Massachusetts


Trail Description

Location: Marblehead to Swampscott with Spur to Salem. Essex County.

Directions: Parking available near the shopping center on Bessom Street in Marblehead. Rt.1A will take you into town.

Trail Length: 5 miles

Trail Surface: Gravel, Asphalt

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Caution: Shared use with hikers and equestrians




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Marblehead Rail Trail

Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.



Trail Description: Marblehead Rail Trail

The Marblehead Rail Trail and it's two connected trail spurs are suburban paths that link three seaside communities of Marblehead, Swampscott and Salem north of Boston. Following the original railbed of the Swampscott Branch of the Eastern Railroad (mid 1800s), the trail splits at Bessom Street and Roundhouse Road in Marblehead, an historic seafaring town with narrow, winding streets and over 200 homes and buildings which predate the Revolutionary War. The western spur travels to Lafayette Street in Salem and the eastern spur leads to Seaview Avenue in Swampscott, MA.

No matter which trail spur on the Marblehead Rail Trail you choose, when you arrive back in Marblehead, don't miss the opportunity to bike to Marblehead Neck over the causeway (Ocean Ave.) for panoramic views of scenic Marblehead Harbor and a visit to the lighthouse at Chandler Hovey Park.

The wide, rustic, hard-packed gravel bike path travels through woodlands, conservation areas studded with ponds and wetlands, past beaches and scenic harbors. Although the trail gets narrow and a little rough in places, the gentle railroad grade and terrain is family-friendly and appropriate for mountain or hybrid bikes. In the summer, don't forget to pack your swimsuit for this 5-mile spin on the "The Path!"

The nexus of the Marblhead Rail Trail at Bessom Street and Roundhouse Road in Marblehead is the best place to begin your bike ride.


Marblehead Rail Trail Western Spur

The western spur runs for two miles northwest to Salem and passes through the Hawthorne Pond and Wyman Woods Conservation Areas. Nearing Salem you'll travel over bridges offering beautiful views of Salem Harbor. The Trail surface switches to asphalt, crosses busy Lafayette Street (Route 114) and connects with the .5 mile paved Salem Bike Path which ends at Canal Street.


Marblehead Rail Trail Western Spur

The eastern spur snakes through seaside communities on the way from Marblehead to Swampscott, ending up near the water's edge. The scenic, rocky coastline is studded with beaches overlooking Marblehead Harbor. One small, but somewhat famous beach is called Singing Sand Beach. Dragging your bare feet on the dry sand will cause it to "sing", or make a humming sound. Other beaches include Crowninshield (Brown's) Island and Devereux Beach, the largest public beach in the area with lifeguards and numerous services.



Historic Notes

Marblehead and Salem are seacoast towns steeped in maritime history. Narrow, twisting streets wind past historic sea captains homes and buildings, many of which date back to 1775. Both offer opportunities to stroll along scenic harbors, enjoy historic walking tours, visit lighthouses, galleries and quaint shops.

Swampscott, Massachusetts' first beach resort town was the destination for the "rich and famous" at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was also a seafaring fishing village and once hosted a large commercial fishing fleet which sailed daily from its protected bay. Today, it is a residential community with seven public beaches and a lively seaside downtown.


For more information

Marblehead Dept. of Recreation, Park & Forestry
10 School Street
Marblehead , MA 01945-3327

Phone: (617)631-3350
TTY Users: 711 (AT&T National Relay Service)




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