Middlesex Fells Reservation, Stoneham
Note: The Middlesex Fells are closed to mountain bikes in the month of March.
The Middlesex Fells Reservation, more commonly known as The Fells, is located just seven miles north of Boston. The Fells is over 2600 acres in size, has over 120 miles of trails and is owned and managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Its reservoirs are water supplies for Winchester and the MWRA. For more information about the Middlesex Fells, visit the DCR's website.
The Fells is very popular because of its proximity to a major urban area and being nestled within 5 towns: Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham and Winchester. The Fells is also notable as being the property that launched NEMBA as an organization when efforts to restrict equitable access began in 1987. That was the beginning of 25 years of efforts by the MTB community to reverse the overly restrictive policies put in place at the time.
On January 6th, 2012 this was achieved. DCR's Stewardship Council voted to approve the Middlesex Fells Resource Management Plan which begins to address the historic inequity of having only 1.6 miles of singletrack open for legal riding. The RMP makes a great first step by designating the Orange Trail (also known as the Reservoir Trail) as shared-use, calls for Dark Hollow Pond trails to be redesigned and designated shared use, and calls for exploring the potential of some East side trails becoming shared use as well. The RMP, like many plans, is all about compromise - the MTB community didn't get everything we had hoped for - but neither did everyone else involved. It is extremely important for us to live up to the compromises we've agreed to.
Other important info:
March is Trails Closure Month at the Fells for riding. This is to protect soft trails from extra impact. All trail users should avoid wet muddy trails. Boots cause just as much damage to soft trails! Say no to mud!
Other elements of the RMP (Dark Hollow Pond, East side access) will be rolled out as quickly as can be assessed, planned and negotiated with DCR. The immediate focus right now is getting Orange in shape for it's May opening to shared-use.
We ask that all riders observe and comply with the rules at the Fells. This means please stay on the legally open trails (the Orange (Reservoir), Green (the MTB loop) and fire roads currently) and do not go off-trail or into the Winchester or MWRA properties (DCR has no jurisdiction on those properties and is asking everyone to observe the No Tresspassing policy for those water supply properties).
DCR has reached out to us to ask that we remind riders that the Skyline (White) trail at the Fells is hiking-only. They have observed an increase in the number of riders on Skyline and asked for help getting the word out to the riding community to please not ride on Skyline. So please respect this and take advantage of the other main, legally ride-able trails at the Fells: Orange and Green.
Please keep trail interactions positive! Practice good trail etiquette - courtesy costs you nothing but has tremendous payback. Report problems. If you find a problem or have a bad interaction, DCR wants to know. If it is an emergency, call 911. If it's a user conflict, disengage - don't escalate it. Call DCR's emergency line: 617-722-1188 and report it or any other non-emergency park problems. It's staffed 24/7. You can get DCR's full list of user guidelines here
What is riding at the Fells like? The Fells, overall, is about an "intermediate" level of technicality. It has some fairly technical spots but those are in the minority. The MTB loop is mostly on fire roads which are not very challenging. The Orange Trail provides a nicely challenging loop of mostly singletrack.
If you want to get involved and help us out with the Fells, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Greater Boston Chapter is the local NEMBA chapter that interfaces with DCR on the Fells - come get involved with GBNEMBA!
DCR's North Region manages the Fells, their offices are here:
DCR North Region Office
4 Woodland Rd.