Bay Circuit Trail
|Bay Circuit Trail|
At Monument Street in Concord
|Length||200 mi (322 km)|
|Location||Plymouth County, Middlesex County, eastern Worcester County, Bristol County and Essex County, Massachusetts|
|Highest point||Moose Hill, Sharon, Massachusetts, 534 ft (163 m)|
|Lowest point||Sea level, north and south terminus|
|Trail difficulty||easy with some moderately difficult sections|
|Season||year round (may be ice or snow in winter)|
|Hazards||deer ticks, poison ivy, road crossings|
The Bay Circuit Trail or Bay Circuit is a Massachusetts recreational trail which, when complete, will form an arc through the outlying suburbs of Boston from Plum Island in Newburyport to Kingston Bay in Duxbury, a distance of 200 miles (320 km). 150 miles (240 km) of the trail were complete as of 2007. The trail, first proposed in 1929 and imagined as an outlying version of Boston's Emerald Necklace trail, spans fifty towns and cities and four counties.
The trail links together conservation land, nature sanctuaries, national historic parks, state parks, and other public green space. The diverse topography of the trail includes beaches, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, woodlands, cliffs, drumlins, lakes and reservoirs, river corridors, swamps, historic sites and ruins, museums, farmland, meadows, kettle ponds, and eskers. Highlights include Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the Charles River, Massachusetts Audubon's Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, Minute Man National Historical Park, Lowell National Historic Park, the Merrimack River, and Plum Island.
The Bay Circuit Trail connects to other long distance recreation trails, such as the Warner Trail. The Minuteman Bikeway will provide a connection to downtown Boston when the Somerville Community Path is completed. The East Coast Greenway will also connect downtown if it is completed as envisioned.
The Bay Circuit is open to hiking, picnicking, and in the winter, snowshoeing. Certain parts of the trail are suitable for bicycling and cross country skiing. Swimming, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, and car top boating are also permitted in some properties the trail passes through. The Bay Circuit Trail is managed by the Bay Circuit Alliance, a confederacy of state, town, and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and individuals.
The Bay Circuit forms a rough "C" shaped arc between 15 miles (24 km) and 30 miles (48 km) north, west, and south of Boston. Although much of the trail follows a single route, several sections split in two and rejoin. The northern terminus of the trail is also divided: its northernmost section ends at Plum Island in Newburyport, and a southerly branch extends to the sea in the town of Ipswich.
The southern third of the Bay Circuit begins at Kingston Bay as a loop between Duxbury, Kingston, and Pembroke, then continues as primarily one route through Hanson, East Bridgewater, Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, and Sharon, Massachusetts. Features along this route include Bay Farm (Massachusetts DCR), Cranberry bogs, Silver Lake Sanctuary, the Central Greenbelt, Willow Brook Farm Preserve, Hanson Town Forest, Hockomock Swamp, Little Cedar Swamp, Bridgewater Iron Works Park, Lake Nippenicket, the Reverend James Keith House, West Bridgewater State Forest, Satucket River Conservation Area, Sachem Rock, Borderland State Park, Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (Massachusetts Audubon Society), Hill top Farm, Adams Farm, Great Cedar Swamp, The Pinnacle, and the Old Indian Trail.
The middle third of the Bay Circuit passes through the towns of Walpole, Medfield, Sherborn, Ashland, Framingham, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Lincoln, and Concord. Features along this route include the Noon Hill Reservation, Medfield Rhododendrons Reservation, the Charles River, the Rocky Woods Reservation and Fork Factory Brook, Little Farm Pond, Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Sherborn Town Forest, the Rocky Narrows Reservation, Ashland Town Forest, Sudbury Reservoir, Callahan State Park, Nobscot Conservation Land, Turenne Wildlife Habitat, Garden in the Woods, Devil's Den, Heard Farm, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Mount Misery, Round Hill, and Haynes Meadow. Smaller networks of interconnecting side trails are prevalent throughout.
North of Concord, the Bay Circuit splits into two tracks. The eastern track passes through the towns of Bedford, Billerica, and Tewksbury while the western track passes through Acton, Carlisle, Westford, Chelmsford, Lowell, and Tewksbury. The two branches converge in Andover and continue through North Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Rowley, and Ipswich before splitting again into two terminal routes. The southern route continues east through Hamilton to end at the Atlantic Ocean in east Ipswich while the northern route passes northeast through east Rowley, Newbury, and Newburyport ending at the Atlantic Ocean at Plum Island.
Features along this route include the Walden Pond State Reservation, Adams Woods, the DeCordova Museum, the Dana Museum, Flint's Pond conservation areas, Drumlin Farm, the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, Minuteman National Historical Park, the Assabet River, Fawn Lake, Nashoba Brook, the Sudbury River, Lowell National Historic Park, the Merrimack River, Kerouac Park, Lowell Heritage State Park, Carlisle Pines State Park, Middlesex Canal, Wilderness Park, the Concord River, the Minuteman Bikeway, Indian Springs, Deer Jump Reservation, Harold Rafton Reservation, Haggetts Pond, Indian Ridge Reservation, Harold Parker State Forest, Ward Reservation, Boxford State Forest, Bald Hill Reservation, Phillips Wildlife Sanctuary, Pomp's Pond, Georgetown-Rowley State Forest, Cleaveland Farms State Forest, Willowdale State Forest, Bradley Palmer State Park, Appleton Farms, Prospect Hill, the Ipswich River, Castle Neck River, Castle Hill Reservation, Castle Neck, the Ipswich Lighthouse, William Forward Wildlife Management Area, Parker River, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Old Town Hill Reservation, Joppa Flats Wildlife Refuge, and Plum Island.
- "200-mile walking trail moves closer to completion". Boston Globe. November 8, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
- Massachusetts Trail Guide (2004). Boston: Appalachian Mountain Club.
- Commonwealth Connections proposal PDF download. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
- Bay Circuit Trail. Bay Circuit Alliance. Retrieved March 9, 2008.