Assabet River Rail Trail
The Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT) is a partially-completed multi-use path running through the cities and towns of Marlborough, Hudson, Stow, Maynard, and Acton, Massachusetts, United States. As a conversion of the abandoned Marlborough Branch of the Fitchburg Railroad, it is a rail trail. The right-of-way parallels the Assabet River in the midsection. At the north end it veers north to the South Acton MBTA train station while the south end veers south to Marlborough. When fully completed, the end-to-end length will be 12.5 miles (20.1 km). As of August 2018, the southwest end, 5.1 miles (8.2 km) of the trail from Marlborough to Hudson is completed, and the northeast end, 3.4 miles (5.5 km) running from South Acton train station to the Maynard/Stow border is completed. No current plans exist for paving the middle 4.0 miles (6.4 km) in Stow and Husdon.
This railroad branch was progressively lengthened so that it reached from the Acton station to Maynard by 1849, was extended through Stow to Hudson in 1850, and reached its Marlborough terminus in 1855. Passenger service was discontinued in the reverse fashion, so that Marlborough's service ended in 1930, Hudson and Stow in 1939, and finally Maynard in 1958. The branch continued to provide freight service into the 1960s. The last remaining rails and railroad ties in Acton and Maynard were removed in 2014.
In 1851 transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, who lived in Concord, wrote in his famous journal about a trek to Boon's Pond, which on the return included a walk along the railroad tracks that are now part of the rail trail.
In 2005 the south end of the trail, with a length of 5.1 miles (8.2 km), was completed from Marlborough to a parking lot on Wilkins Street in northeast Hudson. Construction of 3.4 miles (5.5 km) of the north end of the trail — from the South Acton train station running south to central Maynard and then southwest to White Pond Road at the Maynard–Stow border — began in 2016. The groundbreaking ceremony for the north end was held on July 21, 2016. The ribbon-cutting event celebrating the completion was held August 10, 2018. Completion of the north end will leave a four-mile (6.4 km) gap between the Marlborough–Hudson and Acton–Maynard portions of the trail. The east end of this gap is a dirt road known as "Track Road," but beyond that there are no bridges over the two crossings of the Assabet River and some parts are on private property. Maps and updates are available on the ARRT website.
There are four boat launches providing canoe and kayak access to the Assabet River on the trail: one in Hudson at Main Street Landing; one in Stow at Magazu Landing; and two in Maynard, at White Pond Road and Ice House Landing. A map of locations of these boat launches is available on the ARRT website.
- Assabet River Rail Trail
- Thoreau’s walk to Boon’s Pond (pages 452-462)
- "Groundbreaking ceremony set for Assabet River Rail Trail, July 21". Wicked Local Maynard. 19 July 2016.
- Assabet River Rail Trail, boat launch map
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