Two New Trail Links Open, Connecting Greenways North of Boston

The northern entrance to the new Charlestown Seawall bike path, pictured from Draw 7 Park in Somerville. The Alford Street Bridge and the spire of the Saint Vincent de Sales Church on Bunker Hill are visible in the distance.
The northern entrance to the new Charlestown Seawall bike path, pictured from Draw 7 Park in Somerville. The Alford Street Bridge and the spire of the Saint Vincent de Sales Church on Bunker Hill are visible in the distance.

After suffering through long delays during the pandemic, two new trail connections have opened to bike and pedestrian traffic this spring: the Charlestown Seawall trail connection between Draw 7 Park in Somerville and Alford Street in Boston, and the new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway, which connects the Alewife Red Line station to Watertown Square.

The new Charlestown Seawall Trail

Locator map of the new Charlestown Seawall Trail connecting Boston and Somerville along the Mystic Riverfront
The new Charlestown Seawall Trail (dashed line) in Boston and Somerville.

After months of waiting, a new riverfront path has finally opened to connect the Assembly neighborhood in Somerville with Sullivan Square in Boston. The new path offers a scenic direct connection from the Sullivan Square area to the Assembly neighborhood in Somerville, and connects to an existing network of riverfront paths that extends into Medford.

While I was checking it out last Thursday evening, I ran into Kate Adams, a StreetsblogMASS reader who told me that “this project is doubly exciting for me as I have been commuting through this area for 16 years, and I work in climate change and public health.”

I met Adams near the Sullivan Square traffic circle, where we were both trying to figure out the best way to get to the new trail. Getting on the new path from the southern side, in Boston, is tricky for bicycle users, since the path starts on the north side of Alford Street, and there’s no crosswalk at the riverbank.

Ultimately, we opted to ride very slowly on the Alford Street sidewalk to get to the path from the traffic circle.

The new Charlestown Seawall bike path, looking south towards the Alford Street bridge. The Mystic River is on the left and the MBTA's Charlestown bus garage is located behind a high chain-link fence on the right.
Kate Adams enjoys the new Charlestown Seawall bike path. The MBTA’s Charlestown bus garage is on the right, and the Alford Street Bridge is to the left.

Accessing the path is considerably easier from the Somerville side: it connects directly into the existing riverbank paths in Draw 7 Park (pictured at the top of this article) next to the Assembly Orange Line station. The planned Mystic River bike and pedestrian bridge to Everett will someday land near this location, too.

StreetsblogMASS editor Christian MilNeil rides along the new Charlestown Seawall trail towards Assembly Square (whose towers are visible in the background at left). The Mystic River is on the right.
StreetsblogMASS editor Christian MilNeil rides along the new Charlestown Seawall trail towards Assembly Square (whose towers are visible in the background at left). Photo by Kate Adams.

From Draw 7 Park, I continued my bike ride upriver to the Mystic Valley Parkway, where the riverfront path currently ends (plans are in the works to fill in a mile-long trail gap there to create a continuous path along the riverbank into downtown Medford and Arlington).

Then I cut west across the intimidating off-ramps to Mystic Avenue, through Powder House Circle, and on to the Alewife Red Line station via Somerville’s Community Path. From there, if you can grit your teeth for a noisy and noxious half-mile trip alongside the traffic of Alewife Brook Parkway, you’ll eventually reach:

The new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway

Map of the new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway, which connects to existing trails from Watertown Square to the Alewife area in Cambridge
The new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway (dashed line) connects to existing off-street in Watertown and Cambridge.

This is another trail project that saw delays during the pandemic, but has been more or less open for use for several months now. There are still some piles of construction cones and fencing materials at certain points along the trail, but the work looks more or less complete, and last Thursday, dozens of joggers, walkers, and bike-riders were out to enjoy it.

A "Path closed" sign is obscured by a construction cone and "detour" sign at the northern end of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway in Cambridge while three people on bikes ride past.
Notwithstanding the “path closed” sign, dozens of people were out enjoying the new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway last Thursday evening. Pictured is the northern segment of the new trail, near Fresh Pond.

Besides offering a lovely ride through the woods near Fresh Pond, the new trail also connects to several practical destinations to enable errand-running by bike. Near Mount Auburn Street, the new path runs directly next to the Star Market, and near the trail’s southern end in Watertown, a trail spur connects to the Watertown Mall and the Arsenal Yards shopping centers.

A trail entrance from Holworthy Street, near Mount Auburn Street, with a pile of construction cones and a sign indicating the "Watertown Cambridge Greenway."
An entrance to the new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway from Holworthy Street, near Mount Auburn Street.

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