Summertime is coming to a close. Before too long, the streets will be icy and impassable for most of the two-wheeled among us (though if you’re one of those folks who rides through the Boston winter, we salute you). Gone are those halcyon days of long-wearing sunlight and ampler free time, but in many ways, now is the perfect time to hop on a bike and go for an ambitious ride around the area. For one, the sweltering humidity of Boston’s infamous summers is dissipating, making it comfortable to ride for long hours. Plus, nothing beats the changing foliage, roadside tomato and pumpkin vendors, and abundance of adorable open markets of a New England fall. Here, a few of our favorite 5-to-20 mile rides around the area perfect for autumnal cruising.
Oh, and before you get pedaling, always be sure to bring the following:
-A map of your trail, be it on a phone or on paper
-Lots of water
-A change of clothing (a long sleeved tee on a sweaty, end-of-ride body is a lifesaver)
-A spare tube and a few tools for repairs if something goes wrong
|1.||The Minuteman Bikeway|
Why to go: This tree-canopied concrete cyclist superhighway passes through Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford, a route that closely follows the path of Paul Revere’s famous Revolutionary ride. This is a comfortable, safe route and is used mostly for casual biking of all levels. Stop at Spy Pond in Arlington along the way, or connect onto one of the other many bike trails that branch off from the Minuteman. This is not a trail to take if you’re seeking solitude in nature, though – the Minuteman is almost always populated, and the scenery passes through a little bit of industrial and municipal stuff, but its accessibility and pleasantness make up for all that.
|2.||Fell Loop (Three Mystic Lakes)|
Why to go: Wide road shoulders and few hills define this pretty ride, which leaves from Porter Square and circles through the Middlesex Fells Reservation, a nature preserve of wild beauty well-loved by hikers, runners, and dog walkers as well as cyclists. There are a million and one ways to meander through the reservation, with hidden gems tucked away into corners of the park. Hop off the bike at least once to explore and have a bite to eat beside a glassy-surfaced pond or atop a rugged outcropping of dark stone. Bonus: there are commuter rail stations along the route in Winchester, Melrose, and Medford, so this route is great for bikers who want a shorter trip.
|3.||Provincetown, Cape Cod|
Why to go: Though this is the longest trail we suggest here, cycling to Cape Cod isn’t as difficult as it seems – and it’s a pretty ride, to boot. Starting along the Charles River Esplanade and working through Boston’s Emerald necklace, the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway goes mostly through backroads, only intersecting with minor highways a few times on the way. Ending in lively Provincetown, this ride is challenging because of its length, but manageable, especially in the slightly cooler weather. Spend the evening in town and enjoy the nightlife, and though the beaches might be too chilly to swim at, they’re still quite beautiful to walk along. Be advised that many of the signs along the path have been removed, so stick closely to a map, available here.
|4.||Walden Pond State Reservation|
Why to go: Walden Pond, the place where Henry David Thoreau wrote his best-known treatise “Walden,” is a national treasure rich in historical significance and natural beauty. The park is clean, free, and visitors can hike, frolic, and swim in the pond’s crystalline water. Foliage in this area is especially lush around October, but Walden is ripe for a visit any time of year. Nearby, downtown Concord is absurdly cute and clean, full of things to do and eat— try Debra’s Natural Gourmet store for good snacks, and hop around Sleepy Hollow cemetery, gravesite of some of New England’s most treasured authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as native son Thoreau — before biking the 20 miles back.