A Look at the Possible Bike Trail Route

Your local editor made the trek down the old rail bed this week for some photos of what could eventually become a bike trail running through Lynnfield by way of Wakefield and Peabody.

Many local residents have been very interested in the progress of a proposed rail trail that would run through Lynnfield's Reedy Meadow, linking downtown Wakefield with trails running through Peabody and beyond.

Back in December, we noted that the state has determined the project is eligible for federal funding, although the actual funds will be a separate step. The rail trail has also been part of the ongoing discussion about improving Lynnfield's athletic fields and recreational spaces.

Actual construction of the trail in Lynnfield is still some time away, and one big part will be Reedy Meadow itself. Popular trails in Danvers and Peabody, to name just a few in the area, don't seem to have anywhere near the water issue to contend with out in this marsh. A while back, Lynnfield Town Administrator Bill Gustus proposed using old flatbed rail cars out on the old tracks as a way for people to get through the water-prone sections.

As noted in last week's photo journey to the Wakefield part of Reedy Meadow, this is a good time to visit land like this. The vegetation is still manageable, and a cooler spring has kept the bugs at bay so far. And I actually came across more turtles (2) than ticks (0), which is always super.

Despite the interest in this land, not a lot of town residents have been out there lately. It gets miserably buggy in the summer months, and the underbrush only becomes more cumbersome. Still, this is land that at some point in the future, people may regularly go cycling or walking through. There's even a little "island" area about halfway across that makes for a natural rest stop.

This part of the old rail bed is accessible between Reedy Meadow Golf Course and St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lynnfield. Out toward the 128 bridge in the meadow, one typically encounters water levels that submerge the tracks before you can get to the bridge. As the former owner of a large Siberian Husky, I also spotted a calling card left in the middle of the tracks around there that most likely came from a coyote. After spotting that, navigating forward over iron bars in squishy ankle-deep water in a five-foot wide corridor lined by swamp and vegetation suddenly felt too much like the trash compactor scene from "Star Wars" waiting to happen - combined with something out of that movie "The Grey."

I actually got a bit closer to the 128 tunnel last year when I went out in this area. The water levels seemed somewhat higher this time despite a dry spring.

The feasibility study for the rail trail can be viewed at this link on the Wakefield town website. A historical background section says that construction on this rail line began in the 1850s as a Newburyport Railroad line from Danvers to downtown Wakefield and that it was officially abandoned in December of 1941, with the MBTA taking ownership in 1976.

In its proposed form, this bike trail would run from near the Galvin Middle School in downtown Wakefield through Reedy Meadow, continuing along behind Lynnfield High School to link up with an existing trail in Peabody.

John Bengtson May 19, 2013 at 02:55 PM
When I ran track in high school, the freight train use to pass directly behind the football field at the Lynnfield Jr. High and then behind the softball field at the high school. Eventually it crossed over Rte 1 and under I-95 by Lowell St in Peabody.
Jeff Harris May 19, 2013 at 09:45 PM
as long as the Trash people WILL drop in the swamp area is picked up and or heavily fined cant happen soon enough.
Pip blanchette May 19, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Thanks for the info, I would really like to see this happen. I also was just talking to a friend about this on Friday, He is older and hopes he will get to ride it. Pip
Dot Halpin May 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Wow!! I have been working on the railtrail project since we started the Wakefield Rail-to-Trail Committee back in 2004. It is truly great to see this article and the comments! For the past two years things have been in the hands of the Towns, the lawyers and the engineering + design contractor. Last fall the contractor did submit the necessary paperwork to the state and we are on the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) list. Still a work in progress... But thanks for your support in keeping this in people's minds! Dot Halpin
Lisa Lemoi May 20, 2013 at 12:35 PM
I have to say Dot, that why is it taking so long? I wonder if it took this long for the Minuteman Trail to be constructed? Seems that if we have the OK from the Governor that things should move along faster than 9 years, no? I can't wait to see this actually come to fruition! Keep up the good work! Lisa


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