The beginning of the Clipper City Rail Trail is hard to find, here Aidan is showing where the tiny sign is.
The beginning of the ride was a little slow and crowded but the scenery was really beautiful. Arching trees looked like they were hugging you as you rode down the trail. We wanted to take the Ghost Trail and finally found it after passing it three times. The Ghost Trail is a little bumpy for a road bike, however, it is narrower than the main trail so you feel more connected with nature. After the Ghost Trail, we accidentally got onto Merrill Street, which was a little busy, then we figured out how to get from there to Ferry Road so we could get to the CCRT and back onto our planned route. We meant to take the Amesbury Riverwalk Trail over the Whittier Bridge to Ferry Road but must have missed a sign so we will probably go back and try that again someday. From Ferry Road, we got onto High Street in Newburyport where we found a really lovely coffee shop called Olive’s Coffee that has big windows so you can keep an eye on your bikes. It had great coffee and pastries and the people who worked there were really nice. We had mocha lattes and brownies, which helped us ride much faster. From there, we got back onto the CCRT which looked really well maintained. It was smooth riding and had nice architectural statues on the side of the trail. At the end of the CCRT, we were right near MetroRock Climbing Gym, where we like to boulder, and the RiverWalk Brewing Company, where we like to get grilled cheeses and wings.
A good view of the Upper Artichoke Reservoir on the ECG road section.
From there, we took the ECG road route to Topsfield, which is about 21 miles of quiet roads. It started out going down Parker Street which was pretty busy, then got nice and quiet as you went down Hale Street to Plummer to Middle Road through West Newbury. Plummer is closed to cars but open to bikers and walkers. The bridge has a nice view of the Artichoke River Reservoir and there were three men fishing so we stopped to talk to them. They were magnet fishing, which is fishing for people’s lost items in the river using large magnets. We have only seen that on YouTube. It is pretty interesting and Aidan has always wanted to try it. After that, the road biking was really quiet. Middle Street is pretty hilly with lots of farms. We continued on but missed the left turn onto King’s Street because we didn’t see an ECG sign but we backtracked. That was our only missed turn. It helped a lot that we had a map of the road section on Strava although we later learned that you can simply open the East Coast Greenway map which includes a location feature that allows you to track your progress so we used that for the rest of our rides. Other than that one missed turn, the route back to Topsfield was pretty straightforward and quiet.
The East Coast Greenway is a walking and biking route stretching 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida, connecting our nation’s most populated corridor. The nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance leads the development of the trail network.
Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage) is a non-profit organization that has been federally authorized to manage and oversee the unique heritage resources of the Essex National Heritage Area, including the Border to Boston Trail.
About the Authors
Aidan Awiszus and Bode Devellian grew up in Topsfield, Massachusetts, a rural town on Boston’s North Shore where they spent their childhood riding and playing on the Topsfield Linear Common and the local mountain bike trails. They are both entering their senior year at Masconomet Regional High School in Boxford where they are members of the Varsity Alpine Ski Race Team. They are also co-captains of the ChainBreakers, a New England Youth Cycling (NEYC) cross-country mountain bike race team plus they have recently ventured into some dangerous Eastern States Cup Enduro racing. They like supporting MassBike as volunteer interns because they want to see more people out on their bikes and for the roads to be safer for all of us. They enjoy road biking and would do more of it if it was safer.