10 Best Biking Trails in Boston

Boston is a great place for biking.  The small scale of the city, its diverse history and amazing architecture make it ideal for a biking trip.  You don’t even have to brave the busy city streets as there are many wonderful bike trails. The trails on this list are mostly car-free with only occasional need to cross or follow a busy street.  
Most of the trails suggested have subway  (T) access and fortunately the MBTA authorities allow bikes to be taken on the trains except during busy hours from 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.  For more information on this subject click here.
Most of these trails are kid-friendly, but please use your own good judgement to decide whether a trail is suitable for your children as capabilities and circumstances may vary when on the road.  Don’t hesitate to walk with your bikes when cars are present or circumstances warrant it.   
When biking in the city, safety is king! So please click here for some general biking safety tips.

 

 

Harborwalk Downtown
The Boston Harborwalk is a wonderful public walkway and biking trail that is planned to connect 47 miles of waterfront from East Boston to Dorchester. Although not fully completed, there is a beautiful biking trail that passes through the Boston waterfront, across piers, parks, between wharves, marinas, cafes and beautiful hotels and restaurants.
You can bring your own bike and start at the North End or pick up a Hubway bike at Rowes Wharf along Boston’s waterfront near the Boston Harbor Hotel. From there follow the path south and take a left at Seaport Boulevard. Cross the bridge and continue the harborwalk to your left at Fan Pier Park, which follows the waterfront with amazing views until you pass by the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). End your ride at one of the Hubway stations at Fan Pier, Seaport Square, or the Seaport Hotel. The ride involves much protect boardwalks and sidewalks but also includes a few sections with street crossings and street biking, so be aware when you bring children.
Distance: 5 miles
Features: Paved, Boardwalks, Sidewalks, Scenic, Mostly Car Free, Some Crossings, Restaurants, Sites, Museums, Public Transportation,
Charles River Bikeway Loop
The Charles River Bikeway Loop is a beautiful and pretty much protect ride along both sides of the Charles River. The many sailboats that are on the river are from from MIT, Harvard or the community sailing program. The ride is very pleasant, just watch out for the many walkers.
You can easily split up this ride and just do one half the loop on the Cambridge or Boston side although the Boston side has better roads. If you are doing the loop, consider starting at the Museum of Science and then go West on the bike path and sidewalks along the river in Cambridge. Cross over to the Boston side on Rt 20 bridge in Watertown and then go West to the Esplanade back to where you started. The upper part of the Charles River can also be biked, but there are more areas where you need to ride on the road.
Distance: 16 miles
Features: Paved, Mostly No Cars, Waterfront, Pedestrians, Scenic, MBTA,
Charlestown Waterfront Bike Path
This attractive bike trail meanders through Charlestown’s historic neighborhoods, weaving in and out of the Charlestown waterfront with its historic buildings and old wharves and piers. You will be passing by the USS constitution wooden warship and the national historical park. There are a number of parks and playgrounds on the way and a small detour can take you to the Bunker Hill monument. A few years ago this trail became even more fun with a bike crossover from Paul Revere park in Charlestown to North Point park at the head of the Charles River in Cambridge.
Distance: 3.5 mile
Features: Paved, Scenic,Mostly off streets, Waterfron, Historic, Playgrounds, Monuments, Parks
UMass to Castle Island
Part of the Boston Harborwalk, this trail is a real gem. For the entire trip you will be treated to the most wonderful views of Boston Harbor, Marina Bay, South Boston, Boston Skyline and the JFK Museum. You will be driving on boardwalks, sidewalks and for a short distance on the road. You will be passing by a Carson Beach beach and on Castle Island there is a concession stand with ice cream etc...
Distance: 5.5 miles
Features: Mostly Boardwalk, Little Sidewalk, Little Street, Waterfront, Views, Beach,Picnic Area, Fishing, Ice Cream, MBTA Access
Arnold Arboretum
The Arnold Arboretum located in Jamaica Plain and Roslindale has been managing a collection of trees, shrubs, and vines since 1872. Meandering through the area is a road that is one of the nicest bike rides in the Boston area. You will passing through beautiful woods with flowers, exotic shrubs and ponds. What looks flat on the map are in fact minor hils with Peter's hill in the south being the highest. It is possible to put together a bike tour that stays completely within the park. This makes suitable for small children to come along. At the beginning of the trail (map point A) there is visitors center with all kinds of good information and paper maps.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Features: Park, Paved, Public Batrooms, Information Booth, Little to No Traffic, MBTA Access
Minuteman Bikeway
The Minuteman Bikeway is a ten mile long dedicated road for bikes and pedestrians. It was built by the Commonwealth and connects the communities of Bedford, Lexington, Arlington and Cambridge with the Alewife T-station in Cambridge. The bikeway passes through the historic area where the American Revolution began in April 1775. The Minuteman Bikeway is one of the most popular and successful rail-trails in the United States. The trail is mostly flat and protected from cars except in a few places like the Arlington town center. For a detailed section by section description and a map, click on the website link.
Distance: 10 miles
Features: Paved, No Cars, MBTA Access
Southwest Corridor
This bike park is nicely hidden in the Boston cityscape and is very safe and kid suitable. It takes you from the South End towards Jamaica Plain and the Arboretum. The park is basically a narrow strip of grassland protected from cars and it follows the Commuter Rail and Orange Line tracks to Forrest Hill station, passing by tennis courts, basketball courts and playgrounds. It is named the Pierre Lallement Bike Path after the man who is considered by many as the inventor of the modern bike. The house where he died in 1881 is actually very close to the trail. Although the trail starts in the Back Bay, it is only car-free from Ruggles station on. This trail connects with the Arboretum trail and makes a great combined ride with T stations at both ends.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Features: Paved, No Cars, Park, MBTA Access, Playgrounds
East Boston Greenway
The East Boston Greenway is smallish and fun trail to ride. It follows the path of the former Conrail train line and connects a number of parks and open spaces in East Boston such as Piers Park, Bremen Street Park, Wood Island Bay Marsh and Belle Isle Marsh. At its eastern end, it joins Constitution Beach and Orient Heights Beach, great spots for swimming and plane spotting. Currently the trail is 2 miles long but is expected to grow to 3.3 miles once completed.
The trail is easily reached by MBTA at both ends.
Distance: 2 miles
Features: Paved, Flat, No Cars, Parks, Beach
Emerald Necklace Greenway
The Emerald Necklace is a chain of Boston parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1888 with the intention to connect the Boston Common with Franklin Park. Today this park system is a bikers dream offering paved trails that let you travel from the center of the city to Franklin Park, passing through the most enchanting and varied of areas; from busy cityscapes with museums, shops and restaurants to wild nature preserves; from bucolic trails with arched bridges and flower gardens to ponds and lakes where waterfowl gathers. Most of the trails are protected from cars but there are a few street crossings and connections that need to be accomplished. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to make the connection from on park to another, especially near Fenway. Simply follow the map here and pay attention to the signs on the road.
Distance: 6 miles
Features: Paved, Flat ,Mostly no Cars, Some Street Crossings, Parks, Ponds, Animals, Bathrooms
Fresh Pond Bike Loop
Fresh Pond is a small kettle-hole lake left behind from glacial times and it has been used as an ice-making operation in the 19th century. Today it is a wonderful park and a water reservoir for the city of Cambridge. There is a pretty bike trail that loops around the pond and it is mostly protected from the street and very kid-suitable. Be prepared to share the road with pedestrians.
Distance: 2.2 miles
Features: Paved, Flat, Scenic, Pedestrians, Bathrooms
Blue Hill Reservation
The Blue Hills Reservation is a wonderful place for mountain biking very close to Boston.  The name Blue hills came from early explorers who noticed that the hills appeared blue from the ocean.  You will find varied terrain through woods, rocky hills and marshland.  The trails are well-marked and you will find  all levels of difficulty.  On the higher elevations you can get great views of the  Boston skyline and ocean.  Take a break at the refreshment stand at Houghton pond.
Distance: 2-10 miles
Features: Mountain Bikes required, Hilly, Woodland, Marshland, Rocky hills, Scenic, Views, Refreshments, Pond, Parking, Bathrooms