Danvers & Topsfield Rail Trails, MA

• 4-star trail
• 11.0 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Topsfield - Danvers, MA | NE Massachusetts
• Driving Directions: See on map

The former Topsfield passenger depot now serves trail users on their journey.

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Every good rail trail should tell a story, and the tale told by the Danvers Rail Trail and Topsfield Linear Common is one of an escape to the country. Beginning by biking through an enormous concrete box culvert underneath Interstate 90 sets the bar low, but as you make your way Northward past industrial estates and through residential sprawl the trail eventually yields. Development gives way to farmland, then wildlife sanctury marshland. Beyond the trail bisects towns which still retain their old-style charm, then the last two miles of trail lead through dense forest.

The Newburyport Branch railroad that supported these towns for over a century is now gone, but the route is perhaps best known today as the backbone of the Border to Boston Trail, a multi-use trail under development that leads seventy miles from New Hampshire to downtown Boston. Here's a link if you want to see the trails we've reviewed on the Border to Boston route.

Hardpack, Rough, Road, No Access, Parking Expand Map

Danvers & Topsfield Rail Trails 4★
11.0 mi each way, Easy, Gain 200 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

Totalling eleven miles, the connected lengths of the Danvers and Topsfield rail trails strech from the Peabody Independence Greenway in the South all the way to the town Boxford in the North. The former railroad route is now severed by Interstate construction but we've marked out a circuitous two mile road biking link to Boxford Rail Trail that allows trail users to continue their travels North.

Don't miss out on the Danvers-Wenham Swamp Trail at around the half-way mark. This short trail winds its way over marshland via sturdy wooden boardwalks, which are great fun to ride over if the trail isn't too busy. We'd recommend taking the time to peer into the waters and reeds of the swamp in search of sightings of beavers, weasels, otters, snakes and snapping turtles. There's picnic table on an observation platform in the middle of the swamp, and a bike rack at the North end for cyclists who would prefer to enjoy the boardwalk by foot.

Trail Conditions
Hardpack trail throughout, mostly with a good finished surface. Slightly rougher 1.5 mile section North of Topsfield, but still fine for most bikes. Occasional puddles after rain. No significant gradients.

Cycling through a cutting on the Danvers Rail Trail.

This arrow-straight canal supplies water from the Ipswich River to Salem and Beverly.

The last half-mile of tree-lined trail is located in Boxford to the North.

Future Danvers-Middleton Connector 3★
1.2 mi each way, Medium, Gain 30 ft
(see above map link and download)

With the 2022 completion of the Beaver Brook bridge it is now possible to navigate a separate historic rail line in the Westerly direction of Middleton as long as you're walking or riding a rugged bicycle. The trail is incomplete and undeveloped at this time, but plans are afoot to complete a 2.3 mile connection to the Middleton Rail Trail. Right now we can access 0.6 miles beginning at Danville center, though accessing the section North of Maple Street appears to require crossing private property (no signs are present).

We're looking forward a future when we can travel between the two towns without having to take our chances with busy road traffic, but for the interim we've marked a 2.3 mile road biking link on our map, though note that Maple Street is a busy road with frequent use by heavy trucks.

Trail Conditions
Undeveloped rough but hardpack surface suitable only for rugged bikes. Flat. North of Maple Street not accessible without crossing private property.

Shiny new Beaver Brook bridge for the future Danvers-Middleton Connector.

• Danvers: Official, TrailLink, Public Map at AllTrails
• Topsfield: Official, TrailLink
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Trails:
• 0 miles away: Peabody Ind Greenway (3★ 6 mi)
• 2 miles away: Boxford-Georgetown RT (3★ 8mi)
• 3 miles away: Middleton RT (4★ 2-8 mi)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

Danvers Rail Trail
DRT is asking for your support to maintain the rail trail & extend the connector to Middleton.

Essex County Trail Assn
Support to help preserve trails in Essex, Hamilton Ipswich, Topsfield, Wenham & West Newbury towns.

East Coast Greenway
These trails are part of the East Coast Greenway walking and biking route from Maine to Florida.
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