Not since I visited the Cherry Creek Bike Path in Denver, have I felt so much hope for the potential of a bike trail. That trail passes by (and has exits for) all the important sites in Denver, CO. It makes travelling by bicycle easy!
We all love the Peabody bike path, but where does it GO? Where does it get you? Nowhere, that I can tell. In fact, it ends abruptly and dumps you onto Rt. 95, practically. If you find the next section, fine- if not, they won't give you a sign to help. If you do find the park that starts the second section, and ride that whole section, you end up... nowhere. I mean, I'm sure it's a nice place, but I didn't know where I was. It was no destination, that's for sure.
But the Danvers Trail starts at Wal-Mart on 114, and goes farther than I was able to make it on today's ride. At least to Topsfield. And it goes straight through downtown Danvers. Man, if I were some of those businesses, I would be working on plans to welcome with open arms the users of the path. As it stands now, it would be hard to get down the steep sides of the trail to the businesses found down there (McDonalds on 114 across from Olive Garden? Olive Garden itself?). They are next to impossible to access.
But things are still in the early stages, and this is a good thing. For a mountain biker like me, at least, it kept things interesting. Like just after downtown Danvers, when the trail takes a short detour through the woods on honest-to-goodness rocky singletrack. Loved it. There was another deep mud section which was not particularly enjoyable, but the cut through a huge glacial boulder made for a train made for a cozy, interesting trail.
That leads to one of the great things about this trail right now. The trail surface changes as you go along. Getting toward Topsfield, the gravel is fine and tightly packed down. Down at the other end, near 114, it is driveway-size, large gravel, and it doesn't make travel easy. Enjoyable, but not paved-trail easy. Again, that's a good thing. In between there is the singletrack and mud, but also a long stretch of simply perfect dirt trail. About 5-8 ft. wide and smooth, since the roots and stones have mostly been taken out when the train track was laid. Along this section, someone is working hard at building a nice wide boardwalk out into the wetland off of Rt. 35. Just past a beaver lodge. Evidence of these beavers is found a little further along the trail. I wouldn't want to be the one wading in that swamp to put in the boardwalk, so thank you whoever is working on that.
I look forward to riding further to the other end of this trail! And I also have high hopes for it as an actual transportation option to Danvers High School (which it passes very close to), to Rt. 114, and to other places I've not seen yet. Put in some exit trails like some sort of 'bike highway' (Cherry Creek does this and it is wonderful) like we're already seeing from Choate Farm, and we may have a 21st century treasure here, capable of transforming Danvers. If only it could link up with the Peabody Trail!
Pictures to come. I'm on a borrowed computer right now.
Finally, there are lots of rusty former railroad mechanisms that would be so great as signs if they were painted brightly or even just had the (nice work!) current signs bolted to them.
Lastly, let me share with you perhaps the most lasting image of my ride. That bridge next to the purple lighting shop (in the same building as Guitar Center) that goes over 114 is now a bike path bridge. Standing there, looking down 114 either way, it really sunk in that change is in the air.