Monday, October 17, 2011

A ride in the woods

Last weekend, I was invited to participate in the 2011 version of Apple Picking by Bike.  Cris, silentq, and their friend R  were heading to Nashoba Valley Orchard/ Winery from Arlington.   I had already bought so many farmstand apples that I didn't want to actually pick the apples, but was interested in the ride.
I compromised by riding to the end of the minuteman with them, and then turning around and heading home, with a stop in Arlington heights for lunch with a co-worker.

The weather was lovely, and the trail was packed.  This group of girls had the "location, location, location" thing down for their lemonade stand:

The most fun part of the ride though was after the "terminus" of the Minuteman proper, when we headed out on the "Reformatory Branch"  trail,  which evidently used to be the route to the prison in Concord.

It was a kind of riding that I don't do very often- "off road"  but more like a logging road than a mountain biking singletrack.   I don't think that Gilbert is really equipped for serious off roading, but he handled this lovely path through the woods with aplomb.

I would love to do more riding like this,  as it was lovely and tranquil.  We saw only a couple of pedestrians, who I believe were neighbors of the trail rather than "through hikers"  and a single pair of bikers, so it didn't have the complications of a MUP.

When we hit 62  it seemed like the path ended (subsequent perusal of a map indicated that it continued, but was not well marked)  so I turned around, while the rest went on for apple picking.  It was a glorious day and a wonderful ride, and I was glad that I got to do at least part of the ride.


  1. I think that I saw a Bay Circuit Trail sign near the beginning of the Reformatory Branch trail, so it technically kept going much further! :)

  2. I love the Reformatory Branch, and use it whenever I include Concord center as a point along a ride. It's a great trail in that it's accessible by most any bike other than a racing bike with 23mm tires! Part of it can get muddy from poor drainage (the part after rt 62, and I agree, it's not marked well at all), but one can always get off and walk their bike for a short distance if it's muddy). The branch terminates just outside Concord center.

    Just north of Concord center is a nice, short sandy trail, and then there's also Estabrook woods. However, Estabrook requires a more robust trail bike, as it gets rocky and rooty, bordering on mtb technical.

  3. Ha, we did exactly the same thing once--rode out along the branch trail, lost track of the trail at some point, then turned back. It really is not a well marked trail, and I think some parts of it are still only theoretical.

  4. it was good to have you along, and glad to hear you had a good time. The weather was uncommonly warm for Fall, and I'm usually used to apple picking with a jacket and sweater but that Saturday was quite pleasant and only got chilly in the end as the sun was setting.

    There's another unpaved trail that branches north from the Bedford terminus (I think it's the Bedford Narrow Gauge?) It kind of deposits you in the middle of Billerica, so it's not quite as useful as the Reformatory Branch, but it's another option if you want to do some more offroading. From what I recall, it's a little wider in spots than the Reformatory Branch Trail, but is about the same as far as conditions go.

  5. You are lucky you didn't ride all the way to the end. Now you have a reason to go back and find the poorly marked bit you missed. Besides, being from Washington State, I have learned that apples from the rest of the US are greatly overrated anyway.

  6. Biking to the Nashoba Winery is a thought i've had a for a year or two. Now that i've proven to myself I can take longer rides maybe I'll have to do it next year.