Northeast MA

Northeast MA

Middlesex Fells Reservation

4 Woodland Rd
Stoneham  Massachusetts  02180 ‎
United States
The Fells has many trailheads

Easy

25%

Moderate

50%

Difficult

25%

Description

The Middlesex Fells Reservation, more commonly known as The Fells, is located just seven miles north of Boston. The Fells is over 2600 acres in size, has over 120 miles of trails and is owned and managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Its reservoirs are water supplies for Winchester and the MWRA. For more information about the Middlesex Fells, visit the DCR's website.

The Fells is very popular because of its proximity to a major urban area and being nestled within 5 towns: Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham and Winchester. The Fells is also notable as being the property that launched NEMBA as an organization when efforts to restrict equitable access began in 1987. That was the beginning of 25 years of efforts by the MTB community to reverse the overly restrictive policies put in place at the time.

On January 6th, 2012 this was achieved. DCR's Stewardship Council voted to approve the Middlesex Fells Resource Management Plan which begins to address the historic inequity of having only 1.6 miles of singletrack open for legal riding. The RMP makes a great first step by designating the Orange Trail (also known as the Reservoir Trail) as shared-use, calls for Dark Hollow Pond trails to be redesigned and designated shared use, and calls for exploring the potential of some East side trails becoming shared use as well. The RMP, like many plans, is all about compromise - the MTB community didn't get everything we had hoped for - but neither did everyone else involved. It is extremely important for us to live up to the compromises we've agreed to.

Other important info:

March is Trails Closure Month at the Fells for riding. This is to protect soft trails from extra impact. All trail users should avoid wet muddy trails. Boots cause just as much damage to soft trails! Say no to mud!

Other elements of the RMP (Dark Hollow Pond, East side access) will be rolled out as quickly as can be assessed, planned and negotiated with DCR. The immediate focus right now is getting Orange in shape for it's May opening to shared-use.

We ask that all riders observe and comply with the rules at the Fells. This means please stay on the legally open trails (the Orange (Reservoir), Green (the MTB loop) and fire roads currently) and do not go off-trail or into the Winchester or MWRA properties (DCR has no jurisdiction on those properties and is asking everyone to observe the No Tresspassing policy for those water supply properties).

DCR has reached out to us to ask that we remind riders that the Skyline (White) trail at the Fells is hiking-only. They have observed an increase in the number of riders on Skyline and asked for help getting the word out to the riding community to please not ride on Skyline. So please respect this and take advantage of the other main, legally ride-able trails at the Fells: Orange and Green.

Please keep trail interactions positive! Practice good trail etiquette - courtesy costs you nothing but has tremendous payback. Report problems. If you find a problem or have a bad interaction, DCR wants to know. If it is an emergency, call 911. If it's a user conflict, disengage - don't escalate it. Call DCR's emergency line: 617-722-1188 and report it or any other non-emergency park problems. It's staffed 24/7. You can get DCR's full list of user guidelines here

What is riding at the Fells like? The Fells, overall, is about an "intermediate" level of technicality. It has some fairly technical spots but those are in the minority. The MTB loop is mostly on fire roads which are not very challenging. The Orange Trail provides a nicely challenging loop of mostly singletrack.

If you want to get involved and help us out with the Fells, email adam@gbnemba.org. The Greater Boston Chapter is the local NEMBA chapter that interfaces with DCR on the Fells - come get involved with GBNEMBA!

DCR's North Region manages the Fells, their offices are here:

DCR North Region Office
4 Woodland Rd.
Stoneham, MA
(781)662-5230

Local Shops

JRA Cycles

Belmont Wheelworks

Cycle Loft

Hub Bicycle

Links to Relevant Resources

Local Eats

Redbones BBQ

Greater Boston

  • NEMBA was started in Greater Boston in 1987, and GB NEMBA is still our largest chapter. Our mission is to promote and preserve riding areas throughout the area, especially at the Middlesex Fells and other nearby state parks and conservation lands. We put on an extensive trail care series so that riders can give back to their local trails and we host numerous weekly rides, skills sessions and family events for our members.

    We love to ride and take care of trails, and we always welcome new faces at our events and monthly chapter meetings. Please support us, ride with us and get involved to make the Boston area a great place to live and to ride.
  • DCR Reminder for Fells Riders

    Click here for details

Northeast MA

Great Brook Farm State Park

984 Lowell Street
Carlisle  Massachusetts  01741
United States
XC Ski Parking Lot

Easy

30%

Moderate

55%

Difficult

15%

Description

GPX File Notes:

There are three recommended rides for your GPS: a 13.6 miles "advanced" loop and a 4.1 miles beginner ride, and an 11.6  miles intermediate loop. They all leave from the XC Ski parking lot. The beginner ride pretty much sticks to the carriage paths and wider trails and is novice and family-friendly. The advanced loop bring you on most all of the decent trails in the park. Both the advanced loop starts by crossing the street and climbing Acorn Hill, and the returns to the parking lot and heads off to the more challenging trails of Indian Hill and Stone Row. The ride also featured Keyes Loop, the 5 Boardwalk trail and Tophep Loop. The intermediate loop returns from Acorn hill across the street, then navigates many of the singletrack trails going counter-clockwise around the park.

Info about Great Brook Farm State Park:

Great Brook State Park may be the best family mountain biking area in Massachusetts. The park has a variety of facilities for numerous actitivies. The park includes ample parking, a working dairy farm (and home-made ice cream stand), a duck pond and even a sort-of kiddie-zoo with a few barnyard animals. There's a variety of trails through meadows, around pastures and through woods for hiking, biking, XC-skiing and equestrian activities.

Great Brook is a great place to go for any outing with a group of poeple, some of which do, and some of which do not mountain bike. There are numerous nice spots for setting a blanket and picnicking. Riders can go off and cycle short loops of a couple miles. While hikers can go off and hike. There's some ponds where children may enjoy fishing. Many of the trails at Great Brook are wide, level, double-track which are ideally suited to family rides. These double-tracks are also quite attractive since they are very natural in texture and are not rutted like jeep roads.

In addition to the double-tracks are a variety of very easy single-tracks. Many of these are paths are routed around the perimeters of meadows and pastures. Please stay on the paths and avoid cutting across open spaces.

Some of the more out-of-the-way trails offer more challenge. The Wood chuck trail is a nice loop with a couple larger hills. It isn't far off the beaten track so you do want to keep a look out for hikers, horses and other bikers. One of my favorite rides at Great Brook is the Heart Break Ridge. This trail goes out for a couple of miles and then loops back on newly built singletrack. That turns what once was an out and back into a fun loop. This trail starts with a short steep climb on a newly built siwtcback. It's tough to clean the last fifteen feet or so because of some nasty roots. The trail continues with some moderately technical but not nasty single-track along the top of a ridge. The trail then becomes narrow but smooth and fast 3rd-ring single track. Possibly the most difficult trail in the park is Stone Row, located in the northern quadrant of the park.

Great Brook is very popular since it is such a great family and beginner area. Because it is such a popular family area, it's not a great idea for advanced riders to come to Great Brook to do their serious weekend pounding. It's wise for fast riders to avoid this park on nice summer weekends. It certainly is a good idea to avoid riding hard on the main trails. The main trails are frequented by family groups of four of five people, both hikers and bikers, including young kids, often on little bikes. And you'll encounter lots of horses. I'd suggest cooling it when around riding near non bikers. The more out-of-the-way s ingle-tracks offer more challenge and rarely have anyone else on them. In recent years NEMBA has been building new singletracks and constructing bridges. Most of these are on the newest map which is usually available as a handout in the main parking area.

Great Brook Farm State Park is a wonderful destination for a moderate mountain bike ride through rolling secondary woodlands, old farm carriage roads and rocky eskers.  It is a working farm and features a popular ice cream stand for an après-ride treat.  Parking is $2.  NEMBA has volunteered and stewarded Great Brook since 1995, and built some of the most popular trails enjoyed by mountain bikers: Stone Row, Keyes Loop, Fern Loop, Deer Run and sections of the Acorn Trail, Toffett Loop and Indian Hill.  NEMBA installed all of the water crossing boardwalks, and made a $3000 donation for the purchase of adjacent property to expand the park.

Great Brook Farm is shared-use park in the best sense of the word. In addition to mountain biking, horseback riding is very popular, as is trail running, walking, and dog walking. Many people come to Great Brook to picnic around the pond, view the farm animals and take a tour of the farmyard with a DCR interpreter. All the different park users are friendly and respectful towards one another, and user conflict is minimal – a testament to the even-handed style of the land manager.  During the winter, the park is concessioned as a dedicated Great Brook Ski Touring Center and only cross-country skiing is allowed on the majority of the trails (only the trails west of Lowell Street are open to non-skiers).  Until 2007, the Greater Boston chapter of NEMBA kept Great Brook under its stewardship wing; however, since Great Brook and the nearby Lowell-Dracut State Forest are managed by the same DCR land manager, the Merrimack Valley NEMBA chapter is now the main steward, with support and volunteer help from Greater Boston NEMBA.

Local Shops

Pedal Power Bike & Ski

Bikeway Source

All Tuned Up

Links to Relevant Resources

Local Eats

Great Brook Farm Ice Cream Stand FB page

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