“Just as schizophrenic and almost as much fun as your typical New Englander.”
— Trevor Wellman
This trail is good for learning some of the basics of mountain biking or for bringing a picnic.
Open dawn to dusk. Mountain biking is prohibited in the Fells in the month of March. Check the Mass DCR for a full list of rules and regulations.
Marked with every kind of ineffective signage known in New England, the trail follows red squares, green blazes, and little mountain bike icons around a loop exhibiting a crazy variety of terrain. Bring balmex or a good suspension. Fat tires are also welcome.
Riding in either direction, this loop carries tons of momentum for large sections of the trail. However, manic bouts of ruggedness (as well as dog walkers) are known to inhibit an otherwise fast ride.
Don't let the name fool you: once you get the lay of the land, there are many additional trails to explore besides the one designated for mountain biking. Many of the others offer more of an escape from the city or the suburbs due to less bike, foot, and paw traffic. Respect all the work NEMBA has done to advocate for mountain biking in the Fells and honor the signage where it prohibits bikes on certain trails.
There is plenty of parking around the Fells; the easiest access to the Mountain Bike Loop is from the Sheepfold Parking Lot on the southeast side of the park. At prime times, this lot gets busy and it may be easier to find parking in one of the pull-offs along South Border Rd in Medford. From one of these pull-offs, a very short ride into the woods spits you right out onto the loop.
The natural flow does not always keep you on this trail. In fact, sometimes you'll swear it's trying to lose you. If your aim is to stay on track, always follow signage rather than trusting your intuition.
In the northeast corner of the loop, the trail briefly merges with Bear Hill Rd. It's possible to take a short detour up this dirt road to reach Bear Hill Tower. This is one of the prime spots in the Fells. From the top of the tower, you get great views of the Reservation and of the Boston skyline. Bear Hill Tower embodies what's so unique about the Fells: despite all the reminders of the hustle and bustle just beyond the trees, you're still awarded a moment to relax, escape, and recreate. Since I-93 is tucked just out of view, you can almost imagine it's the wind making all that noise.