Watertown & Cambridge Rail Trails, MA

• 3-star trails
• 0.3 to 3.8 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Watertown & Cambridge, MA | NE Massachusetts
• Driving Directions: Marked on map

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a rail trail!

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The recently extended Watertown-Cambridge Greenway utilizes the former route of the Watertown Branch Railroad to connect East Watertown with Cambridge's Fresh Pond, providing a relatively quiet and scenic recreation and commuting corridoor through an otherwise busy Boston metropolitan area.

The trail from Arsenal Street to the shores of Fresh Pond clock in at around 2.2 miles, though as described on our map there's an additional short section 1.2 miles further west known as Watertown Linear Park that can be accessed via bike lane and road biking. The greenway also serves as a great 3 mile connector between Alewife T station to the North and the Charles River Bike Path at the South.

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

Watertown Rail Trails 3★
3.8 miles each way, Easy, Gain 50ft (75ft E-W)
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

The railroad, chartered in 1846, merged with the Waltham and Watertown Railroad to create the Watertown Branch. Construction began in 1847, reaching downtown Waltham by 1851 as a major passenger line. The Boston and Maine Railroad took over in 1900. Competing with streetcars and cars, passenger traffic declined and lead to station closures. Passenger service ceased in 1938 and the second track was removed by 1940. The middle section of the line was abandoned in 1960. In 1991 and 2000, further sections were abandoned. In 2011, the final 1.72 miles were approved for abandonment. By 2013 most of the line was under public ownership and became the trail we know of today.

It's easy to forget where you are on the modern trail, passing by avenues of trees and cutting through the more urban sections of landscape. At fresh pond the rail trail takes a direct route parallel to the highway, but we've marked a detour on our map in blue if you would prefer a route that provides more shoreline views.

The recently extended rail trail by Cambridge's Fresh Pond.

A runner by Fresh Pond.

Heading west beyond the greenway, a grade separated bike path shares the sidewalk along Arsenal Street that runs parallel to but not on the former railroad route. When this ends some road biking is required to reach the 0.3 mile long Watertown Linear Park that begins at Saltonstall Park behind Watertown Hall.

Possibly best suited as a quiet walkway for pedestrians, bicycles are still welcome here on this wide and smooth asphalt path. The historic railroad route continues on towards Waltham where it merges with active rail, but there are no significant sections to ride here. Instead, consider connecting with the excellent 23 mile Charles River Bike Path. Also check out the connections to several other rail trails by Alewife station - we provide links to these at the bottom of our article.

Trail Conditions
Smooth asphalt throughout with no discernable gradient. The main trail connects to the short Linear Park via 1 mile of bike lane and road biking.

A welcoming sign on a rail trail adjacent Arsenal Street store.

Arsenal Street bike path between the Greenway and Linear Park.

The short and orphaned Watertown Linear Park.

• External Links: TrailLink
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Nearby Rail Trails:
• 0 miles away: Minuteman Bikeway (4★, 10 miles)
• 0 miles away: Fitchburg Cut-Off & Alewife Linear Park (1.6 miles)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

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