Newburyport Clipper City Rail Trail, MA

• 3-star trail
• 3.5 mile loop
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Newburyport, MA | NE Massachusetts
• Driving Directions: Marked on map

Newburyport harbor and marina area.

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Newburyport, originally a part of the larger town of Newbury, was settled by English immigrants in the early 1630s. Its strategic location along the Merrimack River made it a natural hub for trade and shipping. By the 18th century the town had evolved into a significant shipbuilding center. In 1848 the Eastern Railroad completed a branch line to Newburyport, offering regular passenger services and facilitating freight transportation from the harbor.

Today Newburyport is best known as a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its picturesque coastline and historic architecture. While the harbor and downtown areas remain the primary attractions, the Clipper City Rail Trail, which encircles the outskirts of the downtown area provides additional opportunities for exploration and recreation.

Asphalt, Rough, Bike Lane, Road, Live Rail, No Access, Parking Expand Map

Clipper City Rail Trail 3★
3.5 mi loop, Easy, Gain 70 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

The Clipper City Rail Trail comprises two separate halves, separated by pedestrian areas and parking lots around the harbor.

The western half is just over a mile long and perhaps the most pleasant and convenient of the two routes – connecting the Newburyport rail passenger station with the waterfront via a long green parkway cut into the townscape. The route is popular with pedestrians and cyclists alike, particularly as footbridges and underbridges separate trail users from most road crossings.

The east side of the Clipper City Rail Trail begins at the waterfront marina, initially only approximately following the old railroad route until it reaches the yacht club at which point it traces the old line faithfully, looping back in the direction of the rail depot which remains active today. The trail ducks back inland through residential neighborhoods including a very short section of quiet road biking, then passes through light woodland and parkland before terminating at Parker Street.

Joppa Flats on the Merrimac, by the East section of Clipper City.

The original railroad route would continue across Parker Street, but that alignment is off limits and used as a power line corridor. The city is working to connect the southern ends of both rail trails together along Parker Street – at last count there was around 600 feet of protected trail and a further 0.4 miles of road biking between the two. A complete circular route combining the rail trails, Harbor Walk and Parker Street connection totals 3.5 miles. Bicycles must be walked along the Harbor Walk.

Paid parking is available by the harbor and at Newbury station. There are three marked roadside spots on Parker Street at the end of the Eastern section, and there's also roadside parking in the residential area close to Joppa Flats.

Time for a rest on the eastern section of rail trail.

Mountain bikers might be interested in the small network of trails on March's Hill that is accessible from the East Clipper City section. Those with rugged bicycles may also want to know that there's another unadvertised rail trail that begins at Newburyport commuter rail station parking lot and heads southwest in the direction of the Byfield-Georgetown-Boxford rail trails and beyond.

Heading north across Gillis Memorial Bridge across the Merrimack River along the new painted and unprotected bike lanes, rail trail users can also connect to the Old Eastern Marsh Trail which heads to Salisbury, Amesbury and the New Hampshire border.

Trail Conditions
Smooth flat asphalt throughout, often busy with pedestrians. East side has a short road biking section. Walk bikes along the harbor boardwalk.

Clipper City West starts at live rail & ends at the old railroad crossing.

Extra half-mile of Harbor Walk west of the rail trail.

• External Links: TrailLink, Public Map at AllTrails
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Trails:
• 1 mile away: Old Eastern Marsh Trail (4★, 4 mi)
• 5 miles away: Boxford-Georgetown-Byfield RTs (3★, 8 mi)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

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