5 Must-Do Fall Bike Rides in Boston

A tunnel of fall colors greets riders on the the Minuteman Bike Path
A tunnel of fall colors greets riders on the the Minuteman Bike Path EandJsFilmCrew
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Fall in Boston is a special time: The weather is perfect—summer heat and humidity is gone but the snow has yet to fly—there’s apple picking, brewery tours, cycling, and a beautiful display of brightly colored leaves. And there truly is no better time to bike ride in Boston. See for yourself as your basic summer workout morphs into a colorful, almost magical journey as you ride. Here are five top routes for savoring a bike ride and the season.

1. Lexington Bike Path

The Lexington Bike Path, or Minuteman Bikeway, is an historic 10 mile bike path that runs through 4 cities.
The Lexington Bike Path, or Minuteman Bikeway, is an historic 10 mile bike path that runs through 4 cities. Doc Searls

Lexington Bike Path, also known as the Minuteman Bikeway , stretches for 10 miles from Alewife Station in Cambridge to Bedford. The path is also part of the Lexington Loop, and riders can start in Lexington, split up the ride, and pick which trail they want to take—ending up in either Bedford or Cambridge. This paved path passes through historic hamlets like Arlington and Lexington, and over the Old North Bridge. Although it is already quite breathtaking as you ride past meadows, picturesque farms, and marshes, riding this route as leaves are changing is extra special.

From one end to the other there are several times where the beauty of fall envelopes the trail. Right before you reach the Old North Bridge, between Lexington and Bedford, you can still hear sounds from local neighborhoods, but the bike path is engulfed in the cover of the trees making it feel more secluded. There is a brief opening as you pass over the bridge, and then you'll once again on the colorful leaf-stuffed path.

One part of the path that truly showcases fall in Boston is about a mile, mile and a half from the Old North Bridge. It feels almost like a painting and the trees seem to create a tunnel of orange, brown, pink and red around you.

2. Assabet River Rail Trail

Over the bridge and into a forest of color
Over the bridge and into a forest of color Lee Toma

The Assabet River Rail Trail is another bike path with an abundance of showy deciduous trees. The trail is 5.6 miles long, with plans to expand to a total of 12 miles, and takes riders through the towns of Hudson to Marlborough, where you can also enjoy the scenic view of the Assabet River. It’s over the wooden bridge and into the red- and orange-filled forest you go as you pass through residential and urban landscapes.

3. Reservations Ride

The Reservations Ride is a stunning 20-mile loop bike path that passes through woodlands, meadows, horse farms, and, as the name implies, several reservations. Reservations are protected pieces of land in Massachusetts with ecological and historical significance, cared for by the Trustees of Reservations for public enjoyment. During the 20-mile ride, you'll pass through Ridge Hill Reservation, Peters Reservation, Chase Woodlands, Fork Factory Brook, Rocky Woods, and Noanet Woodlands.

4. Walden Pond Bike Loop

Cycling along the Walden Pond Bike Loop
Cycling along the Walden Pond Bike Loop Myles Tan

The Walden Pond Bike Loop is a 30- to 40- mile route depending how much you want to explore. Beginning on the esplanade in town, you ride along the Charles River until you reach Watertown. From there you head to Walden Pond, and through Concord before continuing back to the esplanade.

Don't head back before taking the time to explore Walden Pond Reservation (the same woods as made famous by Henry David Thoreau) and its canopy of color. While you're not allowed to bike within the Reservation itself, you can lock your bike up at the front and walk into the park to explore its wonderful collection of trails and beaches.

This 30-40 mile loop is packed full with great views of the Charles River, farms, and small towns.

5. Charles River Bike Path

Cyclists experience the best of land and sea when pedaling along the Charles River
Cyclists experience the best of land and sea when pedaling along the Charles River William F. Yurasko

If you live in the city, there is no better place for a fall ride than spinning along the Charles River Bike Path . The 23-mile paved route runs along both banks of the river, starting at the Museum of Science and passing through the campuses of Harvard, Boston University, and MIT. You can ride the path from Boston to Normbega Park in Newton, passing through Watertown and Waltham along the way for a great tour of Boston's fall colors, surrounding towns and bustling college campuses.

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