Middlesex Fells Mountain Biking Guide

Photo: New England Mountain Bike Association

Here’s how to tour Boston’s favorite woodland reserve on two wheels.

Middlesex Fells is one of the largest and most accessible swaths of greenspace in the Greater Boston area. It’s also one of the few natural reservations open to mountain biking. That’s a good thing, too: Thanks to its mix of woodland paths, forest roads, and mellow singletrack, the Fells are home to some of Boston’s best beginner terrain. Whether you’re getting into mountain biking for the first time, returning to the sport after years away, or just looking for a fun outing with friends, the Fells is the perfect place. Use the following guidance to make the most of your next ride in the reserve.

  • About Middlesex Fells
  • Recommended Rides 
  • Permits and Access 
  • Other Activities 
  • Getting There

About Middlesex Fells

“Fells” is derived from an Old Norse word referring to craggy rock outcroppings, which you’ll find throughout the park. Composed of various rock types—including granite, felsite, and basalt—these outcroppings provide vital habitat for a number of animals and plants (and give the Fells its rugged feel and perfect topography for dynamic trails.)  

Once inhabited by the Pennacook, Naumkeag, and Massachusett tribes, the Fells were an important source of fish and game. Indigenous Americans also gathered plants from the hillsides and planted corn, squash, and other crops in the rich soil of the bottomlands. Their way of life didn’t begin to change until Europeans arrived in the 1500s and 1600s, bringing new diseases and a hunger for new territory. 

Over the next few hundred years, Native peoples were slowly forced from their territory while Boston expanded inland. By the late 1800s, the Fells were at risk of development, and concerned citizens encouraged the Metropolitan Parks Commission to protect Greater Boston’s precious greenspace. In 1894, the Parks Commission acquired its first parcel of land. Today, the Fells encompasses about 2,200 acres of forest and rocky hilltops, and is one of Boston’s most beloved parks.  

Recommended Rides 

Middlesex Fells contains miles of trail and endless loop options. Here are a few local favorites.

Mountain Bike Loop Trail (6.2 miles):

The Mountain Bike Loop Trail provides a beginner-friendly tour of the Western Fells. While it does contain some singletrack, the route mostly sticks to fire roads, which tend to be level and spacious. Between that and the clear route markings, it’s an ideal choice for families and new riders alike. Simply start at the Sheepfold parking area and follow green blazes to take the loop in either direction. 

Western Fells Reservoir Trail (5.2 miles):

Weaving in and out of hardwood forest, the Western Fells Reservoir Trail offers a slightly shorter (albeit more difficult) alternative to the Mountain Bike Loop. Mostly singletrack, this route offers short climbs, flowy downhills, and stunning lakeside scenery. To do it, park at the Sheepfold lot, then follow orange blazes.  

Photo: New England Mountain Bike Association

Eastern Fells Loop (5.7 miles):

This loop connects a number of different fire roads and paved paths to hit all the highlights of the Eastern Fells. Start at the parking area on Lynn Fells Parkway and take your first right to pick up the Crystal Springs Path. From here, you’ll link up several different trails to circle the northern portion of the Eastern Fells, then cross Pond Street to tour the southern half of the park. 

Parking and Access

Park gates open at 9 a.m., and parking is free at most of the lots. Mountain biking is generally banned on unpaved trails during the height of mud season (typically March 1 to March 31). Be sure to obey all posted signage, and stick to paved paths if the trails are closed. 

The Long Pond and Virginia Wood areas are always closed to mountain bikers. Bikes are prohibited on a handful of other trails, which should be clearly marked as pedestrian-only. 

Other Activities

Middlesex Fells is a recreational haven, and mountain bikers aren’t the only ones in on the secret. Here are just a few other things to do while you’re in the Fells. 


Middlesex Fells is home to more than 200 bouldering problems, most of which range from V0 to V5. If you’ve got a crash pad (or access to some rental gear), it’s definitely worth checking out. 


You know all those trails where mountain bikes are prohibited? They’re all gorgeous, singletrack, wilderness footpaths. The longest, the Skyline Trail, is 7.5 miles. 


Spot Pond is open to paddlers spring through fall. Grab a rental canoe or kayak and put in at the Spot Pond Boathouse. Fishing is also permitted (though swimming isn’t). 

Getting There

Middlesex Fells is about 30 minutes from Boston by public transit. The fastest way to get there from downtown is to take the Haverhill Line north and get off at Wyoming Hill. To get to Middlesex Fells on the T, take the Orange Line north to Malden Center, then take the 132 bus to Wyoming Street. (Note that bikes aren’t allowed on the Orange Line during rush hour, and are only allowed on the Haverhill Line at certain times.)  

To get to Middlesex Fells from the Waltham area, you’ll have to take the Fitchburg Line east to North Station before hopping on the train or T going northbound. (Note that bikes aren’t allowed on the Fitchburg Line during morning rush hour on weekdays.) 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.